Opera Blu Ray Review (Scorpion Releasing)
Opera (aKa Terror at the Opera) is a 1987 giallo directed by horror maestro Dario Argento (Deep Red, Suspiria, Inferno, Tenebre, & Phenomena). Argento based the movie on his own experience from directing a disastrous production of Giuseppe Verdi’s Macbeth. So it’s pretty obvious the character of Marco is based off himself. Argento made a tough decision early on when he decided to cast an actual opera singer over a trained actress for the lead role of Betty. Which lead to numerous arguments with Cristina Marsillach, Dario said she was the most difficult actress he has ever worked with in his entire career. This set/film seemed to be cursed considering Vanessa Redgrave dropped out of the film the last minute, Ian Charleson (This was his last film appearance) found out that he was HIV positive during it, an actor was accidentally killed on the set (crushed by a car), Argento’s relationship ended with Daria Nicolodi, & his father died during the production of this. Orion Pictures picked up U.S. distribution for this in 1989 but due to financial issues & Argento refusing to cut the film’s final sequence after they demanded it to be removed. It went from a planned big theatrical run to basically a direct to video release. Despite all the problems during production it was commercially successful in Italy & other places overseas, One of Dario’s BEST selling movies in his home country. Opera is considered Dario Argento’s last GREAT film by most (Personally, I still really enjoyed Two Evil Eyes, Trauma, & The Stendhal Syndrome).
The egotistical & short tempered star Mara Cecova is injured after getting hit by a car outside the theater. Before she is informed about her new found luck Betty (played by: Cristina Marsillach from “Every Time We Say Goodbye” & “Marrakech Express”) receives an mysterious call informing her about the change before her agent Mira (played by: Daria Nicolodi from “Deep Red”, “Beyond the Door II”, “Inferno”, “Tenebre”, “Phenomena”, & “Delirium”) can give her the good news. This means the young understudy FINALLY gets her shot at the famous role of Lady Macbeth. She knows every line & she hits every note, she has been prepared for this moment. She is an instant success with her performance, a stranger sneaks into the opera house to watch the new star shine but quickly gets caught by a stagehand in the empty box. She is greeted by her first “fan” after the show, it turns out to be Police Inspector Alan Santini (played by: Urbano Barberini from “Demons”, “The Black Cat”, & “Casino Royale”). Later on Betty is at her boyfriend’s apartment. Stefano (played by: William McNamara from “Copycat”, “Dream a Little Dream”, “Surviving the Game”, & “Chasers”) is also the stage manager of the Opera production. The unknown monster from earlier has tracked down the new star of the show & overpowers Betty while he’s away. This stranger wants his own audience for his murderous work so he gags her with some tape, ties her up, & putting needles beneath her eyes so she can witness everything he does to his next victim.
She is forced to see every gruesome detail with no way of helping or stopping this living nightmare. She remembers her troubled past & childhood terror, a similar hooded killer who murdered her mother years ago. She confides in her director Marco (played by: Ian Charleson from “Chariots of Fire”, “Gandhi”, & “Jubilee”). The curse of Giuseppe Verdi’s Macbeth continues. Giulia (played by: Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni from “Demons 2”, “The Phantom of the Opera”, & “Mother of Tears”) from wardrobe complains to Betty about having to repair her dress already & shows her a gold bracelet sewn onto it that wasn’t there before. Betty is confronted by Santini about marks on her body & what she has to do with these events. People close to her keep getting killed off one by one by the mysterious madman. The next day, Betty returns to the Opera House & director Marco has a plan to find out who’s the person behind all this mayhem. During the next performance, he unleashes a flock of vengeful ravens into the audience. The birds recognize the face of their attacker from the other night & starts gouging out one of his eyes! THE KILLER IS REVEALED!!!! He captures Betty again & reveals the motivation for why he’s been after her. A fire takes over & destroys everything, is the killer gone for good? or Is he still out to cause more madness to the young girl????
NOTE: This was one of my first reviews so my style was a little different with this one. Let’s discuss the film, high definition presentation, & special features from Scorpion Releasing! This is one of my favorite Dario Argento films, I think it’s highly under-rated. It’s one of the wildest visual experiences that you will ever have when it comes to film. Some of the deaths here are shot in the most original way & it’s very impressive. I loved everything about it. The metal soundtrack added a whole other level of mayhem to the production. The suspense & thrills were well executed, I enjoyed the killer playing games with the main girl during the whole time. The special fx were very entertaining & fun. Cinematographer Ronnie Taylor makes this a GREAT viewing experience, you are moving with the camera in various ways & angles throughout the film. It’s a crazy cinematic viewing with this original style of film making. You get to witness some of the most unique shots in movie history with this 1080p (2.35:1) transfer from a brand NEW 2K scan with over 45 hours of extensive color correction! This is the BEST that Opera has ever looked on home video, the last time I watched this film was in 2001 with the Anchor Bay DVD so this blu ray looked like a completely different production compared to that older release. This retail version is the familiar English dub which has two different options that includes English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 & English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 on the blu ray.
This is the audio that I grew up with so I am not upset about it at all but it does have the controversial echo to the dialogue that I remember from past home video releases. The Heavy Metal score from various musicians which includes Goblin’s Claudio Simonetti pounds through the sound system for this & it sounds amazing. It has a few special features on the disc. First, it has an almost 22 minute interview with director Dario Argento from 2016. He says that it’s one of his best films. He goes over the cinematography & visual style of the production. He brings up his musical influences during the shoot. He chats about his rough relationship with star Cristina Marsillach. He talks about the special fx in Opera. It has an almost 17 minute interview with actor William McNamara. He chats about how he got the gig. He was working on a television mini series at the same time. He goes over his experience on the movie & working with Dario Argento. He brings up that actress Vanessa Redgrave was hired for this but she never worked on the film. He says later on that he got an audition from Tarantino because of this film. It has a few promotional items that includes 2 “Theatrical Trailers” & a “Coming for Christmas” teaser. I was happy to see two labels like Scorpion Releasing & Doppelganger Releasing come together to bring us some quality Italian horror in HD, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! It’s available everywhere right now, check it out. BTW, Scorpion Releasing re-released Opera with a limited edition 3 disc release with so much more added to it for all you die hard fans plus some corrections from this retail version at Ronin Flix.