Warning, this is a spoiler based review
They couldn't have made him look more like Freddy if they tried, the shameless gits, all you see is "Robert Englund", the word "Freddy" and then him looking like Freddy, I sent the picture to a friend without explanation and then called them to ask if they noticed what the title of the movie was, they didn't even see it.
I hadn't heard of this film at all, I stumbled across the title when researching the actor Bill Nighy and I clicked the wikipedia page to see what role he played. Once I realised this was an attempt to do Phantom, but cashing in on the Nightmare on Elm street franchise, I had to do a review.
|Written on the day of his execution, March 7th, 1544|
The first real shot of the movie is a camera sweeping over water at night, it pans up to a shot of the two towers and the title imposes itself over them. As the titles play we get a bunch of sweeping shots of New York at night and then we see a young woman leaving Tower Records and hailing a taxi to go to a music library. Inside the library the young woman walks through stacks and tables piled with bound sheet music. She goes down into a basement area where she passes some running machinery and into a section marked, "Rare and Out of Print."
The young woman is Christine of course, searching for her friend Meg whom she finally finds in the rare section. Christine has been searching for something special for an audition piece, something which no one has heard before, her friend Meg presents her with some old and crumpled sheet music called Don Juan Triumphant, by Erik Destler. Uh oh, Eric with a C is nice, Erik with a K is evil, run away, Christine, run away! The name seems familiar to Christine, but she can't place where she has heard it, Meg hands her a book which provides information on Deslter and his unfinished opera, the book also says that Destler was obsessed with a young opera singer who disappeared the night of his death and the authorities believed he was a psychopath responsible for a dozen deaths in London.
|At least he's not Freddy Krueger.|
|The sheet music think she's out of tune.|
Meg plays the piano for Christine, as she sings she imagines the threatre being full of applauding people. The actress playing Christine has a nice voice, but she's clearly not a trained opera singer as she doesn't have the strength to hold some of the notes, or I could be wrong and they want her to gradually build as the movie plays out. We'll see I suppose. A sandbag from above drops down suddenly and barely misses Christine and breaks a mirror behind her and then we get some bizarre shots of Christine turning in a bizarre costume at an opera house superimposed over more glass breaking and a horse and carriage pulling away, which repeats itself twice, then we hear Robert Englund saying, "Christine, come back, come back to me, Christine."
|Wake up, Christine, you were having that dream again where things made sense.|
So now we're in London in the late 1800's, Christine is the only american in the London opera company and she's the understudy to the leading lady Carlotta, she also seems to have no memory of New York, so are we to assume that this is some sort of past life dealy or is this like that episode of Star Trek Voyager where B'Elanna Torres lives the aliens memories?
English Meg tells Christine to relax and have a sleep because Carlotta is stressing her voice and she may have to take the lead part. We then see Carlotta singing and the camera travels through the orchestra pit into some nifty dungeons below and we see Freddy making himself a mask out of peoples skin. Nice.
|The not-so-popular, permanent kind of mask|
|Come on, movie!|
When the stage hand is alone, we hear Freddy calling him, he looks around and doesn't see anyone, but we see Freddy is walking about him in the walkways. The stage hand, Joseph, drops a new back drop onto the stag and Freddy pops down with his humanish face on. Joseph shares his bottle of whiskey with Freddy, unphased at his sudden appearance and Freddy asks him if he's sure the sandbag dropping was the work of a ghost. Joseph says it was just an accident, Freddy says "but you blamed me", Joseph says it won't happen again and Freddy confirms that it won't and kicks him off the walkway. Joseph's foot is caught in the rope and he dangles above the stage, Freddy brings him back up and cuts him with a teeny tine knife.
In Christine's room we see a shadowy figure (Freddy) in the mirror and he tells her she sounded lovely in rehearsals. Christine looks around the room and ask's if it's him, he confirms it is him, her teacher, her angel, blah blah, if you've seen any version of phantom, you know how this scene goes. Christine tells Freddy about the accident and asks Christine to sing the song for him, the lead song, now her own, she asks him to show himself, he says he will soon so she starts to sing. Christine sounds ok, not great, maybe because there's no backing music it sounds weird. Freddy is displeased so he asks her to start again, with passion
Angel of Music. Freddy tells Christine that she will peform that night and the world will love her.
Later that night Bill Nighy delivers some flowers to Carlotta whilst she is in the bath, I don't care if he owns the opera house, he really could have waited until she was done. Carlotta asks Bill Nighy to wash her back, she wants a bigger better room and she wants Christine back in the chorus as she's too good and she is threatened by her. Bill Nighy loses his temper and Carlotta refuses to sign a new contract until he's thought about what she;s said. Carlotta calls her servant, (played by Cathy Muphy who played Julie Perkins on Eastenders up until the other day coincidentally when she had her last episode), she is given a costume for the third act and told to take it to the costume department to take in, then Carlotta admires herself in the mirror. She slips on the floor on a pool of blood but catches herself, she opens the wardrobe door and is horrified at what she finds inside.
|Filmed on location in Bangkok..... too soon?|
Elsewhere, Bill Nighy speaks with his accountant about the opera house being in debt, and he complains abouta monthly debit of 300... 300 what I'm not sure, pounds, shillings, crowns, bananas? With no receipt or invoice, his accountant tells him it's for the opera ghost and box five is held for him every night, he says he knows it's silly, but you know how actors are. Billy Nighy tells his account that for 300 pianos a month and a box containing four seats he's willing to risk the phantoms curse.
People settle in to the opera house for opening night of Faust, the accountant comes to tell Bill Nighy that there's been an accident and someone comes out on stage to let the audience know that due to illness Carlotta can't perform and Christine will be playing the lead part. The audience is most displeased and start to leave, Bill Nighy says they could be done for fraud and he's going to kill Carlotta. The accountant says he'll have a word with Carlotta because Bill Nighy's too angry to speak with her.
The curtains open on stage and play begins, backstage the police arrive and push their way through the crowd of actors to get into Carlotta's room. Her servant is crying in a chair as a constable takes her statement, someone shows the inspector the wardrobe containing the dead stage hand, they tell the inspector information about the victim, the inspector tells them to take him down. A police man says that they sent Carlotta home to see a doctor and says they could bring her back, but the inspector says it can wait, because he's seen this work before and he knows who has done it and it isn't the work of any phantom or ghost, it is the work of an artist who works in flesh.
Backstage the inspector says that there must be a thousand doors in the theatre and he wants them all open, they'll find the phantom if they just look hard enough. The inspector runs into the account guy who's also the half owner of the opera house and the inspector tells him they better have a little chat.
On stage Christine starts singing and it's by far the best performance she's given in the movie so far and both Freddy and the audience seem quite delighted about it. Freddy is so caught up in the performance he almost stands up to applaud, but doesn't and leaves a gold coin on his seat and a rose in the opera box.
Later, Freddy is walking through the streets and is accosted by a couple of prostitutes till he finds one he likes and goes to a private place with her, he tells her not to turn on the light because his foundation has worn off. He tells her that for tonight her name will be Christine. I never thought I'd say this, but Robert Englund is kinda smooth, the way he's putting the moves on it really seems like this guy gets a lotta action.
|Hair by Helena Bonham Carter|
The account guy, Richard, asks Christine to marry him, she says she can't, not now, he says that after this evening he may have lost her, but she says he will never lose her. Bill Nighy conspires with an old dude because the audience wants Carlotta and Christine would need years and years of training to bring her up to the diva standards.
At the Inn where Freddy first encountered the guy who was probably the devil, Freddy sits in a corner composing, a barmaid brings him a drink and goes to serve another table. A guy asks who Freddy is and the barmaid tells him to mind his own business. The guy goes over and offers Freddy a cigar, Freddy tells him to go away because he's busy, the guy persists and lights a match, seeing Freddy's scarred face, Freddy blows out the match and the guy backs off. Later, Freddy is walking back to the opera house and is being followed by the guy from the Inn and his friends.
In the morning the prostitute Freddy hired wakes up and finds some gold coins under her pillow, aw, it's like he's the tooth fairy really. At the opera house, a English-Meg runs up the stairs with the morning paper which contains a review of the previous night's performance. Christine reads out the review, which says the performance did not hold up to expectations due to the absence of Carlotta, the company's Diva. The reviewer goes on to say that Christine's voice was not unplesant, though her lack of training and discipline was obvious and she could not hold up her role, which is kind of true, sorry, love. Then he gets a bit mean and says that he wasn't sure if she could perform the role she was billed as, which is a secondary role. Now, obviously, this guy's a bit of a git, but here's the thing, the times when she was obviously just singing on camera, it wasn't that great and certainly not high enough quality for a big opera company. Her performance on stage was better, because it was obviously a studio recorded performance she has a very nice voice, but operatically speaking it's not really a great voice because it takes years and years to fully develop that kind of voice and being an opera singer, she should really get that, but I suppose that Christine is supposed to be way better than the actress playing her.
English-Meg tries to comfort her by saying that it's only one opinion and she heard the audience applaud, but Christine says the audience were probably just clapping out of politeness. Meanwhile in a men's bath house, the reviewer guy declines his usual massage and goes into a steam room followed by Freddy. The reviewer guy creates more steam and Freddy asks if he was at the opera and the reviewer confirms that he was as he is the opera critic for the gazette. Freddy says that he found his review troubling and asks if they saw different shows, the reviewer says he was embarrassed for Christine as the role was above her.
Christine leaves the opera house as it starts snowing, carrying a bunch of flowers, she hails down a passing carriage, just missing Richard, who decides to follow after her in another carriage. She arrives at a cemetery late at night and her flowers mysteriously change into roses, she places them down on her fathers grave. She tells the grave that she felt him there the previous night and doesn't know if she can sing again and asks for guidance.
We see Freddy playing the violin in the graveyard, she thinks it's her father, Richard arrives at the gates, but they mysteriously lock themselves. Freddy tells Christine her father has sent him, he is her angel and all her lessons have led to this moment. Christine decides to follow Freddy and ignores Richards shouts as Freddy tells her that they will make the world better with their music, she just needs to take the last step towards him and he sits at a carriage, whilst still playing, his face hidden from view. The door to the carriage opens and Christine gets inside as Richards comes through the gates, the sound of Freddy's violin must be some sort of supernatural thing as it hurts Richards ears and he falls to the floor as Freddy drives the carriage off.
We see a dude trying to catch rats in a sewer, then we see Freddy round the corner, who has put his foundation back on and he lights a match and leads Christine to his nifty underground lair. He tells her that there is nothing to harm her there, except for, you know, the rats. Freddy tells her that in her dressing room he could only teach her the words and notes, but there he can teach her the real meaning of the music.
He begins to play and to his surprise, Christine begins to sing along with his music, (which the rat catcher guy hears), her performance is ok, but you can really tell in places that she doesn't have the best operatic voice. He asks her how she knew the words to his music, she says she sang them before and doesn't remember where. He says it's impossible as no one has ever heard that music, so she asks him to play the rest, but he reminds her that it is incomplete.
|So, you look like Gerard Butler under there, right? Right? No?... Frank Spencer?|
Richard goes to see the inspector and tells him that Christine's life is in danger, though where he got that idea from, I don't know. The inspector shows him a collection of photographs (completely un-period looking photographs I might add) of people who have been flayed. Richard fails to see the connection, the inspector tells him that Christine sang because Carlotta found a body in her wardrobe and the reviewer who criticised her is now dead. The inspector in a round about way says that murder follows Christine, but he doesn't think it's Richard.
The inspector tells Richard that the phantom is real and his name is Erik Destler, which is apparently a famous legend. While the inspector is explaining this, we see Freddy take off his wig, revealing that he is quite bald and you can see his skull in places, he then takes out his teeth and places them in a cool little box I want to get for my nanna so she doesn't lose hers all the time. He then starts taking off his ear, which is fake apparently and then undoes the stitches on his skin mask, though I don't know why, ok I do, but in universe, surely they could act as a sort skin graft and as long as the skin wasn't dying it would graft to his skin since he sews it on. Out of universe, they want him to look as much like Freddy as they can get away with without breaching copyright.
|Funny how those teeth he took out are suddenly back in|
Richard comes calling, Freddy watches, Christine quickly writes a note and tells English-Meg to give the note to him, which tells him to meet her privately. Christine tries to pull the ring off again, but fails. Inside the opera house, everyone arrives in masks for the masquerade ball, Christine has two masks because she's greedy. Richard looks for her through the dancing crowds. Bill Nighy sucks up to Carlotta who has arrived and asks her for a dance. The inspector and his police men put on masks to blend in with the crowd and watch for the phantom.
Richard finds Christine and she tells him to leave her alone because she's afraid of the phantom and feels that he's watching her everywhere and of course, Freddy was watching from behind a large plant. As he's getting a drink, someone tries to take off his mask and he stops them, Carlotta wonders who it could be and Freddy spins Bill Nighy away so he can have a dance with her.
The inspector goes to the buffet where the rat catcher is helping himself to some food, the inspector tells the rat catcher he has a nice costume and the rat catcher tells him the thing he's looking for has already come and gone right under his nose. The inspector tells him to show him where, the rat catcher tells him that the phantom pays him well to keep his secrets and to keep the rats out, the inspector says he will pay him more. Over time, though the rat catcher would earn more if he kept his loyalty to Freddy, years of steady rat catching work instead of one small pay off. Silly man.
The inspector drags him off and the caterers bring in a table with lots of covered dishes, people gather around to see the tasty dishes behind unveiled, and if you thought that Carlotta's head was going to be unveiled from one of the silver domes, you'd be dead wrong.
|It's in the soup.|
Freddy throws Christine down on a bed and chokes her a bit before showing her exactly what's really underneath his mask. However, he hears the others entering his sanctum. The rat catcher leaves them behind and goes off his own way, we see Freddy running through the sewers, Christine meanwhile is trapped inside Freddy's room. Christine finds a cobwebbed exit and starts trying to make her way through it, she can hear Richard shouting in the distance, but she comes full circle back into Freddy's lair.
Freddy finds the rat catcher who tells him that he won't kill him, because he catches the rats, Freddy doesn't like being told what he does and doesn't do and so kills the rat catcher. The police split up into two groups, because that's always a good idea, they start looing for Freddy's lair and mark their paths with chalk as they walk. Unfortunately for them, Freddy knows the tunnels far better than they do and tricks them with mirrors and opening doors, splitting the police up further and changing their marks so it leads them in the wrong directions and they become lost.
|Yes, I'm sure that's exactly how an English policeman held his gun in the 1880's|
Freddy grabs Christine from behind, holding a knife to her, Richard shoots the knife away, and in the ensuing scuffle, Christine is tossed to the side. Rchard and Freddy struggle, the inspector is unable to get a clean shot and is pushed down some stairs. Richard starts chocking Freddy, but his back is against some candles and his clothes catch fire, then Freddy stabs him with a candle holder and throws him off the side.
Christine pushes over a candle holder at Freddy, which causes several things to catch fire, he tells her that he told her she would never leave and she picks up Richard's gun. He tells her that only love and music are forever and holds out his hand to her, so she shoots him. He grabs her and pulls her towards him, but the inspector comes to and shoots Freddy three times, causing him to pull the ring from Christine's hand and fall back, she pushes another candle holder over and it smashes a mirror. Freddy screams and calls for Christine.
|Guess who's here?!|
Modern-Freddy takes Christine for a drink and asks her if she would like to join him in a small dinner he arranged for the other backers of the show. He asks her to wait for him to change his clothes and then he will take her out for a night on the town and tells her to make herself at home.
She sees he has lots of recording equipment around his apartment, we see modern-Freddy changing and looking quite pleased with his appearance, till he spots a bit of his skin is tearing, he opens up a fridge filled with latex Robert Englund heads and grabs a scalpel.
Christine finds some printed sheet music of Son Juan Triumphant and finds a floppy disc, also labelled Don Juan Triumphant and she sticks in it his computer, which begins playing the music. Now if it were me, I would assume the guy found the music, years ago, like she did, in the music library and simply made a copy. Yes, at times I'm paranoid as hell, but she immediately starts freaking out about it and not even me, paranoid as anything, would freak out this much, as she doesn't remember the dream/big flashback.
Modern-Freddy comes down the stairs as Christine tries to get the music to stop playing, he asks her how she likes it, he says love, music, they're forever and he knew they'd find each other eventually. She says, "you're him, aren't you?" He asks if she expected someone else and kisses her, and tells her it's just a matter of what she chooses, love or music. She strokes his face gently and pulls him in for a kiss, then decides to pull his face right off.
He tells her that he has waited a very long time for her to come back to him and they had a bargain that they would stay together forever. She picks up a weapon and stabs him in the chest, then takes the floppy disc and sheet music, just to add insult to mortal injury. She runs away into the night then rips up his music and throws it into a drain with the disc and we hear Freddy scream "NO!" We see Christine walking down the street and a street performer is playing the music for the Nostalgia Critic's Bum Reviews, on a violin (I can't unassociate that music now, ever.) Christine gives the street performer some money and turns back looking at him for a moment, then walks away. End of movie.
Yes, it's an obvious attempt to cash in on the Freddy Krueger brand, but it's actually quite a good movie. Well, Robert Englund is quite good, I'd go so far as to say that he's pretty much excellent throughout and I really feel for his version of the phantom.
I still think that the movie would have been better leaving it on a point in which the phantom wins, rather than having Christine reject him yet again.
It's not a musical version of Phantom, but it would have been nice if the singing there was, was at a higher standard. One could argue that Christine just wasn't as good to everyone else as she is in the Phantom's mind, but that's what you're going for then show that, or just hire a better singer.
Can't really fault the effects, they were pretty good throughout the movie, the plot was the standard plot for Phantom, though I did think that missing out the big chandelier scene probably let the movie down somewhat. That being said, however, it feels a lot more faithful, at least in spirit, to the original novel, the Faustian element is very present through out and it's more macabre approach is a lot more entertaining than the romanticised version in the musical.
If I could have this movie with a better Christine then I would declare it the best version of Phantom I've seen, however because she's a main character and the actress just doesn't seem to get Christine, she just seems very contrary, I can't really give it a pass on that issue.
7 out of 10