On the first day of Slashermas my true love gave to me Dark Night of the Scarecrow, on the second day of Slashermas my true love gave to me a crummy Freddy Kreuger movie, on the third day of Slashermas my true love gave to me a trip to Sleepaway Camp, on the fourth day of Slashermas my true love gave to me Dario Argento’s Tenebrae, on the fifth day of Slashermas my true love gave to me another Argento movie.
This time, it’s 1987’s Opera.
When veteran opera singer Mara Czekova has a car accident, it’s up to her understudy, Betty (Cristina Marsillach) to take over her role as Lady Macbeth.
On opening night there’s an accident with falling lights and a stage hand is killed. Is it the curse of Macbeth? It becomes clear that the killer has some kind of personal connection with Betty. He binds her and sticks needles under her eyes, forcing her to watch as he kills those around her.
Urbano Barberini plays Inspector Santini, a detective and opera fan who tries to protect Betty. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Barberini can genuinely act. I initially saw him in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode Outlaw (of Gor) as Tarl Cabot and that was pretty awful. He’s actually quite good in this movie.
Sadly, his voiced is dubbed over and the only version that has his original voice is the UK Arrow Films version, under the alternate title Terror at the Opera.
Of all the Argento movies I’ve seen so far, this plot feels the flimsiest. This movie pretty much exists to showcase the lush opera…
…and elaborate killing sequences.
Fun fact–after screencapping the second picture with the pins, I accidentally made that the computer’s background. So when I clicked out of the programs I was using, I was instantly startled. This is probably punishment for changing the background of my mom’s computer to the evil ghoul lady from Insidious, the Sloth Astronaut, Lil Bub, and a different picture of Lil Bub.
Anyway, I’m okay with this movie existing to showcase the opera and the killing sequences except this movie is an hour-and-forty-six minutes long and it drags after a while.
The other star of the movie is the music, Instead of working with Goblin, Argento worked with Claudio Simonetti of Goblin and Brian Eno. There’s an original score mixed with some rock songs and, my favorite, parts from different operas including “Vieni T’affretta” from Verdi’s Macbeth.
This movie uses imagery similar to Suspiria, especially the alternation between warm and cool light, and has a giallo influence similar to Tenebrae, but I think it’s the weakest of the three Argento movies. The plot couldn’t sustain the running time. Also, I just didn’t like Betty. She’s entirely passive throughout the whole movie until the very end and that just doesn’t make for a compelling character.
That being said, I think Argento did that on purpose. The point is to reverse the position of performer from creating to viewing. There are lots of shots of Betty being watched–from the entire audience of an opera house, the binoculars of the killer, and the lens-like eyes of the ravens.
This is reversed with Betty being forced to watch the killings around her. She’s also forced to come to terms with memories of her dead mother, although this plot point feels very shoe-horned in.
This isn’t my favorite Argento movie but even an imperfect Argento movie is still an interesting movie. Plus, it gives us this hot of a raven holding the fakest eyeball ever.
- Scarina--the authoress and editrix of this site. I like scary movies and have dedicated my free time to cataloging horror--the good, the bad, and the ugly. Sometimes there are books too.
There's film criticism, literary criticism, and humor here. I can be highbrow but there's lots of pop culture too. And feminism.
I fervently love "Twin Peaks" and wish it were a real place so I could move there. I can't list my favorite scary movies because they change depending on my mood, the season, and how much coffee I've had.
I'm an artist looking for ways to blend creepy with cute. I try to channel my childhood nightmares, my love of horror, and my experiences with sleepy paralysis.
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