(Dario Argento, 1987)
Things aren't looking up for opera singer Betty (Christina Marsillach), an understudy who has just been given the lead role in MacBeth after the original diva had an unfortunate accident (the first of many to come!). An insane fan of Betty's lurks in the wings, waiting until she's alone to tie her up and tape needles under her eyes so that she can't shut them as he mutilates her friends in front of her. Sadism's the name of the game though, and he releases Betty after each killing...
Opera may just be Argento's last great thriller before he Americanized and lost his identity. The plot's a familiar one, but here Dario inserts a little commentary and black humour, no small feat considering his humour normally falls flat on it's face. In Opera he also continues with his fairy tale theme, presenting Betty, like Jennifer in Phenomena or Suzy in Suspiria, as a girl drawn suddenly into an unfamiliar nightmare world. This is again reinforced through camera angles and set design. Another theme further explored is his love of animals, in this case crows, and the uncanny abilities they supposedly possess. Still don't get it, but meh...
Visually speaking, Opera is just as vivid and memorable as Dario's prior efforts. He throws in a couple of new tricks here, creating swooping bird's POV shots, and even a slow-mo closeup of a bullet passing through a peephole. He also managed to insert his/ Mario Bava's trademark coloured lighting. Other than the weak acting and story (used to it by now!), my chief complaint, as in Phenomena, was the juxtaposition of dreamy opera with thrashy metal in the soundtrack. I can see how it might be appropriate in the gore scenes, but it makes the film feel a bit disjointed.
On the plus side, however, there's an abundance of blood and kink onboard, and a cast of familiar Italian horror players, including Barbara Cupisti, Coralina Cataldi Tassoni, Urbano Barberini, Daria Nicolodi, and others too numerous to mention. Definitely worth a watch.
10 months ago