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Film / The Phantom of the Opera (1989)

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One, two, Phantom's coming for you...

"Only love and music are forever."
Erik Destler

A 1989 adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera, starring Robert Englund and Jill Schoelen, and directed by Dwight H. Little note .

In modern New York, an aspiring singer named Christine Day comes across sheets from an obscure opera Don Juan Triumphant. She uses it as a part of a theatre audition, which unexpectly sends her back in time to Victorian London to relive the events around the man who wrote the work: Erik Destler, a notorious psychotic killer known as "The Phantom".

This film has the examples of:

  • Absurdly-Spacious Sewer: Erik's hideout is situated in tunnels within the sewers under the opera.
  • Actor Allusion: Several of the Adaptational Villainy traits given to the Phantom in this version make him feel more like Englund's Freddy Krueger. This version of Erik made a Deal with the Devil to have his music live forever; Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare revealed that Freddy made a similar deal with a trio of Dream Demons in order to continue killing kids in their dreams. Erik's face has been horribly disfigured as a result from the aforementioned deal to the point that when Christine confronts him in the present, it's been rendered completely black; part of Freddy's iconic appearance involves his burned face as a result of the parents of his victims killing him in his origin story. Both characters are also prone to giving Pre-Mortem One-Liners before killing their victims.
  • Adaptational Villainy: This film has probably the most evil incarnation of the Phantom ever.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Raoul de Chagny is renamed Richard Dutton.
  • All Just a Dream: In the beginning, Christine is knocked out by a large sandbag, which sends her back in time a couple of centuries. After supposedly defeating Erik, she wakes up in present-day and everyone is clamoring over her accident. Then it is shown that the show's producer happens to be Erik, going by the name "Mr. Foster". He later takes her to his apartment and reveals himself to her. He also confirms that the "dream" Christine had was real and they are bound to each other for eternity.
  • And Now You Must Marry Me: Erik tries to pull this towards the end. Christine doesn't respond well.
  • And Show It to You: Erik catches one of the coppers with a net, and rips his heart out.
  • Asshole Victim: Three men attempt to corner and rob Erik in an alley. It doesn't go well for any of them.
  • Big "NO!": Erik's reaction when modern-day Christine destroys his work.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: When Richard finally finds Christine, Erik grabs her with a punch-dagger in hand, which Richard shoots off before starting to fight him.
  • Darker and Edgier: The film is much more violent and gory than your typical Phantom adaptation; people get flayed alive, drowned in saunas and decapitated. Three people are killed within the first seven minutes. Erik also sleeps with prostitutes, pretending they're Christine, and tries to rape her near the climax. Oh, and he periodically has to make himself a new face, sewn together from the flesh he's harvested from other people.
  • Deal with the Devil: Erik sold his soul to the Devil so that his music would live forever. It didn't work out as he expected. At all.
    • The same happens with Christine to Erik. This transcends into present-day (of the film) and apparently, they are eternally bound by a Red String of Fate.
  • Death by Adaptation: For once, Carlotta actually gets what's coming to her.
    • Richard, the Raoul equivalent, actually gets killed off by Erik.
  • Depraved Dwarf: The Devil is depicted as a little person.
  • Dramatic Unmask: When the modern day Christine is confronted by Erik, she rips off his false face to reveal his true features.
  • The End... Or Is It?: After defeating Erik, Christine walks by a mysterious figure playing the Don Juan Triumphant song that she tore up earlier.
  • Epigraph: The film opens with a quote from "St. Jean Vitius of Rouen", a completely made up person.
    "Pray for them who giveth their immortal soul unto Satan... For each is damned to relive that wretched life... through all times."
  • Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: Just before he strings up Joseph by the legs, Erik has this to say:
    Erik: You're... suspended!
  • Evil Laugh: Erik laughs mockingly as shots are fired at him.
  • Facial Horror: The Devil finalized his deal with Erik by ruining his face, which he continually has to reconstruct with stolen strips of flesh.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Erik is this in this version, being much more creepy and obsessive of Christine and lacking the redeeming qualities that his other versions have.
  • Flaying Alive: Erik flays Joseph the stagehand who accidentally dropped a bag of sand on Christine, and places his corpse behind Carlotta's mirror to scare her away from singing that night.
  • Grave-Marking Scene: Christine brings roses to her father's grave after her first big role in the opera as Carlotta's replacement.
  • I Am the Noun:
    Erik: Christine. Come to me... and I'll give you everything. You love the music. I am the music.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Erik impales the rat catcher on a spike on a wall.
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: The opening credits present the film as Gaston Leroux's The Phantom of the Opera.
  • Informed Ability: Due to her actress' untrained voice, Christine's singing skills becomes this.
  • It's Not You, It's My Enemies: Christine writes a "Dear John" Letter to Richard to protect him from Erik.
  • Masquerade Ball: A masquerade ball is held in the opera premises, attended by the cast.
  • Mugging the Monster: After learning about his wealth, three men decide to rob Erik. All three end up dead.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Erik unsurprisingly attempts this on Richard. And unlike in the vast majority of versions, succeeds.
  • Neck Lift: Erik lifts the third mugger up by his arm's length and stabs him in the stomach.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Erik does this to his victims. A lot. As the movie poster indicates, the film had Freddy Krueger playing Erik, after all, and by damn they were going to use him!
    Mugger: You're a thing from Hell!
    Erik: And you, sir, are hellbound!
  • Off with His Head!:
    • Erik decapitates the second mugger and rolls his head toward the third, making him run.
    • He also cuts off Carlotta's head at the masked ball, and dumps it in a soup tureen.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Erik pulls it off twice as he hounds the third mugger.
  • Single Tear: A single tear rolls on Erik's cheek as he listens to Christine singing his music.
  • Slashed Throat: As the search for Erik in the sewers goes on, one of the constables that accompanied Richard is found with his throat slit.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Guess.
  • Sword Cane: Erik has a whip which has a hidden knife in its handle.
  • That Man Is Dead: When (the past) Christine finds the sheets for Don Juan Triumphant with Erik's signature in his lair, Erik tells her that "That man... is long dead".
  • Truer to the Text: Shocking, we know. Aside from the time travel, the deal with the Devil and the flaying/harvesting of skin, this film is actually pretty faithful to the original novel in many respects. It features a lot of details that have often been left out of the various adaptations over the years, such as Erik playing the violin for Christine at Monsieur Daae's grave; the punjab lasso; the rat catcher; Erik having a black mask rather than a White Mask of Doom like most adaptations; constant references to Gounod's version of Faust and Christine being cast as the lead role of Marguerite. This line especially is used from the original novel:
    Erik: This is either a wedding march or a funeral mass. You decide.