Lock Up (1989): #Watch1989

Lock Up (1989): #Watch1989

Lock Up original film art

Lock Up (1989)

Your body has to be here, but your mind can be anywhere.

As I watched my latest 1989 film, Lock Up, I began contemplating the future of the #Watch1989 enterprise. According to the original tenants of the program, my 1989 movie marathon would conclude on December 31st, 2019. At that time, however, I anticipated having felt some sense of closure. I’d have watched a few dozen movies from 1989, discovered some gems along the way and completed a handful of chapters (all of them?) in the manuscript about the Summer of 1989. Alas, reality has clubbed me upside the head as I’ve taken stock of my year of #Watch1989.

I’ve watched around 65 movies from that great year. But there’s so many left to watch. I’ve barely scratched the surface. I’ve discovered some gems, but I also still have a bunch on my “must-watch” list that just haven’t been handled. I still haven’t seen My Left Foot, for example, and that’s a problem. Don’t talk about the manuscript. I got a new freelance job a few months ago and I’ve been struggling to make time with my own writing. So I went ahead and devoted a sleepless evening hyped up on non-drowsy antihistamines to watch Sylvester Stallone’s Lock Up (1989) which had just arrived from Netflix DVD.

Maybe I don’t need to put an expiration date on this, after all…

Netflix DVD Lock Up

Netflix DVD, those fine distributors of physical media, came through with a copy of LOCK UP, delivered to my door.

A Sylvester Stallone movie from the 1980s that I hadn’t seen? I suspect foul play based on reputation. Indeed, I’d never bothered with Lock Up due to it’s less than stellar reputation. And by less than stellar, I mean steaming pile of prison-cell fungus. That said, I’m still surprised I’d somehow sidestepped the movie entirely considering I watched everything indiscriminately during the late 1980’s.

While Lock Up plays like a stripped down Escape Plan (2013) prequel, it has the distinct benefit of featuring Stallone without a shred of self-awareness and a nefarious prison warden played by Donald Sutherland. Both hit all the predictable, necessary, and occasionally delicious 1980’s cinema beats. The result is a film that adheres to an outdated model of filmmaking, the delusional B-movie that masquerades as top-flight entertainment. We love the 1980s and the 1980s loves us back with entertaining mid-budget refuse like this.

Sylvester Stallone Lock Up

Sylvester Stallone confronts the bully (Sonny Landham) trying to take his lunch money in Lock Up (1989).

Shackle Your Disbelief

If we are to go along with Lock Up‘s absurd premise, we have to accept a series of absurd events that take place even before the events of this film. Sylvester Stallone’s Frank retaliated against a bunch of goons that beat the owner of the body shop in which he worked. That he was then incarcerated for a very long time and eventually escaped said prison because the warden (Donald Sutherland) committed unspeakable acts against his inmates. Instead of being fired, the warden gets reassigned to a hellhole maximum security prison where his further misdeeds can go even more unnoticed. The warden also exists in a prison system that would then somehow permit the transfer of the prisoner (from a minimum security facility) back into his custody.

I understand that our penal system is a shit show, (I read the New York Times and am therefore m’f’ing informed), but even this stretches the limits of the imagination.

Donald Sutherland Lock Up

Donald Sutherland as Lock Up’s evil Warden Drumgoole.

Warden Drumgoole launches an initiative to break Frank and cause him to do something that would result in his life imprisonment at his maximum security hellhole. He employs inmates to bully, intimidate, bait and torture Frank. He throws him in solitary whenever possible. I won’t reveal the straw that finally breaks Frank’s back, but it’s absolutely despicable. The lengths to which Drumgoole will go, give the film its only sense of surprise. Let’s face it. We know Frank’s going to get out. We know that somehow Sylvester Stallone is going to mug and grunt his way to freedom. The twist comes during the final act when you think just maaaaaybeeeee the Warden’s finally snared the fly in his web — and yet Sly evades him yet again. How he manages to escape an unwinnable scenario might also require some more suspension of disbelief (if you haven’t already exhausted it).

And you might shed a tear at what they do to a newly refurbished classic mustang.

Sylvester Stallone

Frank (Sylvester Stallone) picked the wrong day to quit knocking heads.

Lock Up Verdict

The director, John Flynn, made a name for himself making gritty 1970’s neo-noir like The Outfit (1973) and Rolling Thunder (1977). After a slow period to begin the 80’s, he wound up directing Lock Up and Out for Justice, a far cry from the kind of freedom he had been afforded.

Despite the intermittently laughable melodrama that speckles the Lock Up landscape, the movie finds it limited range and delivers a watchable exercise in “giving the bad guy what’s coming to him.” Stallone suffers constant physical and emotional torture — some of it rather undigestible and viscerally unnerving.

The supporting cast gives more than the movie’s worth — the cast of familiars like Tom Sizemore, Frank McRae and John Amos carry some of sly’s Sly acting burden. Oddly, when Stallone faces off against Donald Sutherland, their give and take styles (constant overt vs. underperformed rage) fit together like puzzle piece that someone mashed into place. It doesn’t work, but it kinda does if you don’t look too close — much like the entire movie.

If you’re the kind of person that enjoys Sylvester Stallone vanity projects for all the wrong reasons, you’ll definitely have some fun with Lock Up.

Check out some past #Watch1989 write-ups: Sea of Love / Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure / The Experts

Sylvester Stallone

Sylvester Stallone strikes a statuesque pose in Lock Up (1989)

James David Patrick is a writer. He’s written just about everything at some point or another. Add whatever this is to that list. He hosts the Cinema Shame and #Bond_age_Pod podcasts. Follow his blog at www.thirtyhertzrumble.com and find him on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.

Disclaimer: I earn rewards from DVD.Netflix.com, which has thousands of movies to choose from, many that you won’t find on streaming services. I do this because the availability of physical media is important. The popular streaming notion of “everything available all the time” is a myth. We are always our own best curators. #PhysicalMedia #DVDNation #ad

5th Annual 30/007Hertz 2019 First-Watch Hertzie Award Nominations

5th Annual 30/007Hertz 2019 First-Watch Hertzie Award Nominations

The Academy released the Oscar nominations this morning. It’s not much of a surprise that we’re all a little agitated. I won’t go into the gory details, but it’s a bit of a JOKE(r) that not one woman was nominated for director considering the amazing films the females of our species produced this year.

And since the Oscar nods dropped, that also means it’s time for the 2019 First-Watch Hertzie Awards. In case you’re just catching the Hertzie bug for this first time this year, these are my own personal commendations for excellence. It doesn’t matter when the movie dropped, it only matters that I watched it between January 1st and December 31st of 2019.

I’ve consulted my @Letterboxd diary for all the relevant statistics to make this journey more enlightening. I watched 234 movies this year — which is a down year for me. What was I doing besides watching movies? I have no idea. I tried to read more. Tried. Maybe they were all just longer movies. (Don’t do the math.) After compiling my list of nominations, one thing is clear: I watched a lot of movies from 1989… because #Watch1989.

The Academy Awards aren’t bothering with a host again this year, but Myrna Loy has agreed to return for her 5th consecutive Hertzie hosting gig and I promise there won’t be any 5-time Ricky Gervais Golden Globe scorched earth histrionics. Nothing but class in this ceremony. Class and booze.

First, links to all prior nominations and ceremonies: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015

myrna loy

 

Now presenting the 5th Annual First-Watch Hertzie Award Nominations.

(Prior-year winners now appear on the nomination banners.)

 

Favorite Supporting Actress:

Pam Grier, Scream Blacula Scream (1973)
Anjelica Huston, Seraphim Falls (2006)
Ida Lupino, Road House (1948)
Michelle Pfeiffer, The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989)
Madonna, Desperately Seeking Susan (1985)
Dorothy Malone, The Nevadan (1950)

**WINNER** — Ida Lupino, Road House (1948)

Commentary: Is it possible to say that this category features five surprise nominations plus Michelle Pfeiffer? Thus, if all most are surprises who were the front-runners? Personally, I have no idea. Some of these women contest that they were more “leading lady” material, but those women should know that they’re here because they didn’t stand a chance in the Best Actress category, which features a f’ing powerhouse lineup. 

 

Favorite Supporting Actor:

Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)
The Horse, People in the Summer Night (1948)
Michael Caine, Jaws: The Revenge (1987)
Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (2019)
Wesley Snipes, Dolemite Is My Name (2019)
Billy Zane, Dead Calm (1989)

**WINNER** — Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)

Commentary: The Hertzies have been known to dish out nominations for inanimate and animal actors. “The Horse” should just be happy to receive the nomination, but we can’t wait for the reaction shot when someone else wins in February. Since I doubt many of you have seen People in the Summer Night, you’ll just have to trust me when I say he steals the entire movie. Billy Zane? The guy from Critters? And that Michael Caine nomination is ironic right? Can you do irony in awards shows?

 

Favorite Actor:

John Barrymore, Counsellor At Law (1933)
Taron Edgerton, Rocketman (2019)
William Holden, Wild Rovers (1971)
George O’Brien, Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)
Tyrone Power, Nightmare Alley (1947)
Denzel Washington, The Mighty Quinn (1989)

**WINNER** – John Barrymore, Counsellor At Law (1933)

Commentary: A silent, a musical, a western, a noir, a Caribbean murder mystery and a pre-code drama walk into a bar. There’s no punch line. 

 

Favorite Actress:

Roseanna Arquette, Desperately Seeking Susan (1985)
Janet Gaynor, Sunrise: Song of Two Humans (1927)
Edwige Fenech, All the Colors of the Dark (1972)
Emily Lloyd, In Country (1989)
Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)
Samara Weaving, Ready Or Not (2019)

**WINNER** — Samara Weaving, Ready Or Not (2019)

Commentary: I thought you called this “a powerhouse lineup” earlier? I’m seeing two scream queens, a comedian, an Arquette, another silent performance, and 19-year-old Emily Lloyd. 

 

Favorite Adapted Screenplay

Hampton Fancher, The Mighty Quinn (1989)
Jules Furthman, Nightmare Alley
Nicole Holfcener and Jeff Whitty, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)
Roy Huggins, Pushover (1948)
Kurt Luedtke, Out of Africa (1985)
Elmer Rice, Counsellor At Law (1933)

**WINNER** — Nicole Holfcener and Jeff Whitty, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)

Commentary: There were screenplays for some of these? And wait? Out of Africa? 

 

Favorite Original Screenplay:


Leora Barish, Desperately Seeking Susan (1985)
Scott Glosserman and David J. Stieve, Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)
Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, etc. Booksmart (2019)
Rian Johnson, Knives Out (2019)
Joseph Minion, Vampire’s Kiss (1989)
Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (2019)

**WINNER** — Leora Barish, Desperately Seeking Susan (1985)

Commentary: Multiple female screenwriters? You must be insane.

 

Favorite Director:

Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born (2018)
Blake Edwards, Wild Rovers (1971)
F.W. Murnau, Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)
Susan Seidelman, Desperately Seeking Susan (1985)
Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (2019)
Oliva Wilde, Booksmart (2019)

**WINNER** — F.W. Murnau, Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)

Commentary: That Bradly Cooper nomination comes out of absolutely nowhere and you’ve never seen a category with both Olivia Wilde and F.W. Murnau and that feels special. 

 

Favorite Picture:

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)
Counsellor At Law (1933)
Desperately Seeking Susan (1985)
Pushover (1954)
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)

**WINNER** — Desperately Seeking Susan (1985)

Commentary: A Favorite Picture category that spans 1927 through 2018? I don’t know what to make of these nominations, but I love it. The early front-runner has to be Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, but all those Desperately Seeking Susan nominations… 

 

Favorite B-Picture:

All the Colors of the Dark (1972)
Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)
A Bucket of Blood (1959)
Dead Calm (1989)
Earth Girls Are Easy (1989)
Vampire’s Kiss (1989)

**WINNER** — A Bucket of Blood (1959)

Commentary: You still don’t know what to do with this category and that’s fine. It just feels like a dumping ground for movies that you couldn’t justify as the best best — the ones you’re too ashamed to throw your entire support behind but deserve the love. But Earth Girls Are Easy? Really? You couldn’t do better than that? Nominations elsewhere suggest a frontrunner or two, but this is the B-Picture category so all bets are futile. 

Good luck to all of our 2019 First-Watch Hertzie Award Nominees! The winners will be announced the evening of the 2020 Academy Awards on February 9th.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989): The Five Movies of Christmas

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989): The Five Movies of Christmas

Like many households, the Patrick family has their own traditional holiday rituals. We have our stockings and tree ornaments, our exterior light decorations, Mexican aniseed cookies, opening one present on Christmas Eve, essential Christmas Records — but the one we cherish the most is our annual Christmas movie marathon. Each of these five must be watched before the clock strikes midnight on Christmas Day. I’ll count them down now until Christmas.

On the first day of Christmas my reel love gave to me… The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

On the second day of Christmas my reel love gave gave to me…

Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo - Christmas Vacation (1989)

Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

The Five Movies of Christmas: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation didn’t actually become the essential Christmas movie in my household until I had children. I enjoyed it, certainly. And watched the John Hughes-penned comedy once in awhile around the holidays. It just wasn’t until I had children myself that I completely and totally identified with Clark Griswold.

Not with the need to spot my house from orbit (though the intricacies of our outdoor decorations certainly increased alongside toddler napping). And not even with the size and eccentricities of my immediate family. Both sides of the family tree boast a share of unique characters, but unlike Cousin Eddie they don’t happen to drop by because everyone’s scattered across the country from Santa Fe to Wisconsin, Georgia to New York. Occasionally Christmas gets lively, but we’ve never roasted cats or chased squirrels or exploded chemical toilets.

Clark Griswold in the National Lampoon’s Vacation films is every man. His intentions are pure, even when the go astray. His aim always a “good old fashioned family Christmas.”

Christmas Vacation family dinner

The Griswolds all seated around the Christmas table.

We all want Christmas to run smoothly. It never does. We hold it together as best we can. Sometimes we succeed. Family’s always most important, even when you absolutely 100% cannot stand the sight of any of them.

The scene that now stands out for me — actually two scenes — but we’ll start with the one that provides the emotional backbone of the entire movie. Clark, trapped in his attic after the family has gone shopping, discovers a box full of old family film as he digs around for old clothes to keep him warm. He loads up the film reels and watches his childhood Christmases huddled underneath clothes once belonging to elder family members. Certainly sappy. I’m sure I glossed over that scene as a kid waiting for more terrible things to happen to Todd and Margot next door.

national lampoon's christmas vacation christmas eve

The Christmas Eve cacophony reaches a crescendo in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

Today, however, that scene makes Christmas Vacation more than just “tolerating” family. It’s the scene that remind Clark and all of us that these are the moments we’ll remember and cherish as long as we live. Even if every single one of these goddamn people drives us insane.

So when Christmas Vacation reaches its second emotional crescendo — when Christmas Eve goes totally, irrevocably wrong — and Clark screams “Hallelujah. Holy shit. Where’s the Tylenol?” it’s not the ravings of a soulless patriarch. It’s the ravings of a patriarch who’s been reminded how much each moment horrible, wonderful moment matters. This is Chevy Chase’s greatest line reading in the history of his career, by the way, and I say that as a devoted, obsessive fan of Three Amigos!, Caddyshack and Fletch.

Merry Christmas, everybody. Happy holidays. Remember to cherish the lunatics in your own life.

christmas vacation poster art

Christmas Vacation poster art by Barrett Chapman.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is available everywhere. If for some reason you don’t have a copy of your own, you’ll find no shortage of ways to watch this classic during the holidays including Amazon Streaming, Netflix DVD service,

James David Patrick is a writer. He’s written just about everything at some point or another. Add whatever this is to that list. He hosts the Cinema Shame and #Bond_age_Pod podcasts. Follow his blog at www.thirtyhertzrumble.com and find him on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook

Disclaimer: I earn rewards from DVD.Netflix.com, which has thousands of movies to choose from, many that you won’t find on streaming services. I do this because the availability of physical media is important. The popular streaming notion of “everything available all the time” is a myth. We are always our own best curators. #PhysicalMedia #DVDNation #ad

 

 

Friday the 13th Part VIII (1989): 31 Days of Horror

Friday the 13th Part VIII (1989): 31 Days of Horror

#14. Friday the 13th Part VIII (1989)

Friday the 13th Part VIII Jason Takes Manhattan posterNature of Shame:
YET ANOTHER UNSEEN FRIDAY THE 13TH. 

Hooptober Challenge Checklist:
Decade: 1980’s
#Watch1989

AT LAST. I’ve reached my goal. I had to watch through Part VIII to satisfy my personal requirements for my #Watch1989 marathon. (Thanks, DVD Netflix, for fueling this madness.) Huzzah. Calling this a pyrrhic victory would be generous. I spent 20 minutes at a bar struggling to differentiate between all 8 Friday the 13th movies. I had to rewind for some do-overs, but I hit my stride after the second pint of Imperial Stout.

friday the 13th part viii netflix dvd

‘Friday the 13th Part VIII – Jason Takes Manhattan’ Elevator Pitch

Right — lovely. So based on the title, Jason’s unleashed in Manhattan. What a wonderful premise! I can’t wait to hear more. 

Noooooo, no no no. Wait. This is even better. Jason’s stuck on board a high school party river cruise. Fish in a barrel!

Wait. So he’s not in New York City? 

Not until the very end! But trust me on this river cruise thing. It’ll be perfect. Die Hard on a river cruise! Except not Die Hard, but Friday the 13th!

Tell me one thing. Does Jason at least maul a boombox blasting rap music once he’s in New York City?

You know it!

Friday the 13th Jason Takes Manhattan skyline

Jason shakes his machete angrily at the skyline.

‘Jason Takes a Party Cruise’ Doesn’t Have the Same Ring To It

But then again, maybe “Jason Takes a Party Cruise” would have been appropriately reflective of how little Jason actually “takes” because it’s definitely not Manhattan. It also speaks to the dearth of creativity found in this eighth entry in the series. While I’m no apologist, I also can’t abide the critics who lament a rapid and steady decline of Friday the 13th from its glorious heights.

First of all, what glorious heights? And second of all, the original wasn’t well made nor was it all that entertaining. You want a solid slasher flick? Try Part II. If you want wild and entertaining, try Part VI. You want trashtastic? Part VII‘s got your number. If you’re a masochist, I recommend Part V.

If you’re looking at this series as a steady decline, you’re not actually watching the movies.

Reverting back to tired old teenage “types” and putting them aboard a party cruise for Jason to pick off one by one isn’t a bad premise. It at least tries to push the series beyond Crystal Lake. (If you’re a camper or vacationer aren’t you steering clear of that place by now?) Friday the 13th Part VIII seems content to go through the motions in the new and shiny locale that serves as a stand-in for invention.

Tom Caldecott and Jensen Daggett in Friday the 13th Part VIII

Jim (Tom Caldecott) and Rennie (Jensen Daggett) take on Jason in a nonsensical sewer throwdown.

The teenagers have no personality. Jason does Jason things. Worst of all, director Rob Heddon seems perfectly content to invoke a Freddy Krueger brand of illusionary, red herring dreamscape terror. Our “final girl” sees visions of young Jason around every corner. Heddon’s trying to humanize our inhuman evil, but it rings false because he does so in a way that invokes A Nightmare on Elm Street and concedes that Jason’s run out of momentum.

In Friday the 13th Part VIII Jason Takes Manhattan -- or does he?

In Friday the 13th Part VIII Jason Takes Manhattan — or maybe just a souvenir, like a I Heart NY t-shit.

Final ‘Friday the 13th Part VIII’ Thoughts

By the time Jason actually makes it to Manhattan, there’s no saving this movie. We’re only treated to this one image that hints at the promise of a movie called Jason Takes Manhattan. There’s no tension, no thrills, and no surprises. It’s a 100-minute slog that wears out its welcome after the first 30 and Jason doesn’t even sniff the ripe garbage of New York City until the one-hour mark.

 

 

friday the 13th blu-rayFriday the 13th Part VIII is available on Blu-ray and DVD.

2019 @CinemaShame / #Hooptober Progress

#1. Shocker (1989) // #2. Etoile (1989) // #3. The Phantom of the Opera (1989) // #4. Blacula (1972) // #5. Scream Blacula Scream (1973) // #6. Jaws: The Revenge (1987) // #7. Blood Bath (1966) // #8. Friday the 13th Part V (1985) // #9. Friday the 13th Part VI (1986) // #10. Friday the 13th Part VII (1988) // #11. Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966) // #12. Pet Sematary (1989) // #13. Eaten Alive (1976) // #14. Friday the 13th Part VIII (1989)

James David Patrick is a writer. He’s written just about everything at some point or another. Add whatever this is to that list. Follow his blog at www.thirtyhertzrumble.com and find him on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.

Disclaimer: I earn rewards from DVD.Netflix.com, which has thousands of movies to choose from, many that you won’t find on streaming services. I do this because the availability of physical media is important. The popular streaming notion of “everything available all the time” is a myth. We are always our own best curators. #PhysicalMedia #DVDNation #ad

The Phantom of the Opera (1989): 31 Days of Horror

The Phantom of the Opera (1989): 31 Days of Horror

#3. The Phantom of the Opera (1989)

phantom of the opera 1989 posterNature of Shame:
Unwatched 1989.

Hooptober Challenge Checklist:
Decade: 1980’s
#Watch1989

I didn’t realize I owned this until I was sifting through some multi-movie releases. This particular DVD set, “MGM Movie Collection – 4 Musicals” featured The Phantom of the Opera, Absolute Beginners, The Saddest Music in the World, and Sandra Bernhardt in Without You I’m Nothing. Just because a movie title contains the words “opera” or “music” does not make it a musical. I’m hoping just one person tossed on this version of The Phantom of the Opera expecting classy production values and Andrew Lloyd Webber soundscapes.

The Phantom of the Opera Elevator Pitch

In modern day Manhattan, Molly Shannon hands young opera singer Christine Day (Jill Shoelen) a mysterious piece to perform for her audition. Having never heard of the composer, Eric Gessler, the two do some digging and discover that he may or may not have been a mass murderer. Fun! As Christine performs the piece during her audition a sandbag falls from the scaffolding and knocks her unconscious. She awakes in 1885 London, the understudy to the diva of an opera company. She develops a secret admirer who may or may not be killing anyone who stands in the way of Christine’s success.

phantom of the opera 1989

If You Sing It, He Will Kill (And Try to Marry You)

Originally a Cannon release, the film changed directors and shifted to Menahem Golan’s 21st Century Film Corporation when Cannon went bankrupt. During the transition, the screenplay gained the modern framework and the expectation of a sequel called A Phantom of the Opera 2: Terror in Manhattan, which feels a little too close to a real-life Hamlet 2 for comfort. Fortunately (or unfortunately?) the sequel never came to pass and all that we’re left with is this surprisingly competent adaptation of Gaston Leroux’s novel.

I say “surprising” because my expectations were based on Menahem Golan. As if Globus was the steady head in that legendary film production duo. I threw this in immediately after Etoile because thematics. Ballet to opera — a can’t miss double feature of mediocrity and missed opportunity. Sometimes I just can’t with you, #Watch1989.

robert englund phantom of the opera

Like Etoile, this Phantom adaptation fails to go for the jugular. If I expected anything out of this film, I expected layers of grotesqueries on top of kitsch laced with tackiness. In an ideal world, of course. Instead of all that, this Dwight H. Little (Rapid Fire, Free Willy 2) directed film settled for a couple moments of legitimate shock alongside some fine (and squishy) Phantom prosthetic effects. Fine production values set a mood that have welcomed a more gonzo performance from Robert Englund as the Phantom and a few more creative kills. The movie sets expectations when the Phantom takes on a few naysayers in the alley and bowls a severed head at their feet. In that moment I thought I’d discovered something glorious. Unfortunately Freddy at the Opera this was not to be.

Phantom of the Opera settles into a Hammer Horror gothic-lite complacency. Everything looks great (all things considered — it is a Menahem Golan production after all), but Little fails to establish the underlying mood that carries the Hammer films, making those British productions more than what appears on the page. Without much humor to prop up this plodding and routine film, it falls just on the right side of watchable but short of “worth gushing about on Twitter.”

phantom of the opera 1989

Final ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ Thoughts

When I go Golan, I’m expecting to be bewildered by some facet of the production. Golan assembled the necessary pieces, but like Robert Englund’s patchwork face in The Phantom of the Opera, it’s all just a teeny bit limp and sticky. Gore fans will find some practical effects to admire, Englund fans will find a cautiously subdued version of Freddy Krueger (though he does show his real face for a good portion of the film), and the rest of us can appreciate a good bowling-with-heads scene and a rampaging Bill Nighy and then bugger off to our next #Watch1989 and.or #Hootober feature.

 

The Phantom of the Opera  is available on MGM DVD. 

2019 @CinemaShame / #Hooptober Progress

  1. Shocker (1989) // 2. Etoile (1989) // 3. The Phantom of the Opera (1989)