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Reviews & Ratings for
Opera More at IMDbPro »

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Index 102 reviews in total 

Moisture of Giallo

Author: Yelisey ( from Russian Federation
12 January 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

If this idiotic piece of turd is among the Argento's relatively high-rated items, then I can't imagine how bad are his subsequent works. Even in his 70's flicks (that weren't that great too, to put it mildly) he didn't care that much about acting and writing decent or (at least partially) logical scripts, but in Opera he simply spat on these "unnecessary" elements. "Picturesque" killings were the only goals to reach, you know. But unfortunately he had to somehow fill the ~100 min film format, hence a great bulk of absurdities, cretinous dialogues ("Are you scared?" - "A little. No, a lot!") and one of the most moronic final twists.

Just some gaping moments: 1) If the murderer planned his deeds so painstakingly, then why did he miss the baton-armed wardrobe mistress? 2) What a "clever" idea was to catch the murderer with these ravens flying around the hall! For the dubious price of finding the killa man you just have to scare the whole audience, thus giving the worst possible advert to the theatre. 3) The final "utterly unexpected" resurrection of the Maniac Inspector is beyond laughability. At least he should has taken the key with himself escaping from the burning room. Did you know that even Orion (the American film's distributor) wanted to cut this f**ked out ending, but our Italian master of crap stood his ground.

I don't want to bore you anymore, though I haven't mentioned some other great moments of this idiocy-fest like the scene featuring the Nicolodi's headeye shot.

If you are into trash horror Z-movies, then you'll enjoy it. If you're a newcomer to DA, then you'd better check his early works.

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Argento's "giallo" taken on "The Phantom of the Opera"

Author: matheusmarchetti from Brazil
5 November 2008

Being both a Dario Argento fan and a Phantom of the Opera fan, I was dying to see his first take on the story, before the so-bad-it's-good "Dario Argento's Phantom of the Opera". The film is just terrific, even the plot, which here is one of Argento's best at a coherent story. The way he turns a classic romance story into a creepy slasher is just terrific. The film has a very nightmarish feel, which helps on keeping you on the edge of your seat. The colors have never been better in an Argento film since the jaw-dropping "Suspiria". The murders are clever and gory, all done in Argento's trademark style. The thing with the eyes in this film is just unsettling, and done some much better than in Fulci's splatter. The acting is so-so, but once you seen the movie more times you understand the characters' motivations better, and you get used to it. My two biggest complains about it is the use of rock music. I think it was a clever idea to mix beautiful opera fragments with heavy-metal, but it's not executed very well here. The ending is VERY disappointing, which is the worst thing about the movie, seeming to echo Argento's previous "Phenomena", but done terribly, it just didn't need to end that way. The same thing happened in the director's cut of "The Exorcist". I wished they kept the original ending. But still it's a fantastic motion picture and really a must-see, if only for Daria Nicolodi's memorable murder sequence.

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The last great giallo?

Author: hypostylin from SoHo, NYC
28 March 2008

Beware the Scottish Play! In his riveting and harrowing Opera, Dario Argento returns to classic form, regaining the composure he lost while filming convoluted and delirious psycho- shockers like Tenebre and Phenomena. Indeed, predicated on a simple narrative that is offset by opulent set pieces, imaginatively brutal murder sequences, and refined photography, the film feels like the Argento we once knew. Opera's only real infraction is its lack of a score by Goblin, who provided unusual, iconic, and timeless music for many of Argento's greatest films (the opera selections used here are wonderful, however).

The production is filled out by several competent actors. While she's no Jessica Harper, Annabella Sciorra lookalike Cristina Marsillach manages enough pluck and compassion to grasp the role of the tortured heroine. Ian Charleson is interesting as horror-film-helmer- turned-opera-director Marco. And Daria Nicolodi is fantastic as always, even in her relatively brief role (watch the making of featurette on the DVD for a hilarious interview with Nicolodi about her role -- clearly brash and resentful over the end of her relationship with Argento!) Fans of Stage Fright (another excellent 1987 giallo, directed by Michele Soavi, who served as the second unit director for Opera) will barely recognize the final girl from that film, Barbara Cupisti, as a stage manager here (I think it's the glasses that do it).

With me, it's often the little things that matter, and Argento's fascination/obsession with solitary nightmarish images makes him my ideal filmmaker. Opera is full of minor details that left me smirking. For instance, I love that we never see "The Great" Mara Czekova's face. I also love the scene where the killer is scraping the tip of his/her deadly sharp dagger across a television screen showing Betty's performance as Lady Macbeth. Finally, I defy even the most grizzled slasher veterans not to cringe as the "pin grates" are placed over Betty's eyes.

In short, Opera is a clean, tense, and taut thriller. With its solid performances, lucid focus, and literate cinematography, it begs to be in the same league as Deep Red and The Bird With the Crystal Plumage. Might Opera be the last great giallo?

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Tantalizing And Brilliantly Nasty Argento

Author: Bensch from Salzburg, Austria
1 March 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Having enriched the world of Horror with masterpieces such as "Profondo Rosso", "Suspiria", "Tenebre" and "Phenomena", the Italian Dario Argento doubtlessly ranges among the most brilliant Horror directors of all-time (in my humble opinion, he is one of the greatest filmmakers ever, regardless of genre). Nobody is capable of showing vicious acts of brutality in an astonishingly elegant manner as Argento does, and "Opera" is a perfect example for the Italian Horror deity's unique talent. "Opera" (aka. "Terror at the Opera" of 1987 is yet another tantalizing and brilliant film that no Horror lover can afford to miss, and that will keep you on the edge of your chair from the beginning to the end. This stunning and ultra-violent Giallo could well be described as the master's nastiest film, which is quite something considering that Argento's films are not exactly known for the tameness of their violence. The violence is extreme and very stylized in a brilliant way that makes Opera a film censor's nightmare.

- Warning! SPOILERS ahead! -

Just when Betty (Christina Marsillach), a young opera singer, is becoming successful, a murderous and incredibly sadistic psychopath starts stalking her... The murders are truly brutal, and of particularly sadistic nature. The killer attaches needles to the tied up Betty's eyelids, so she has to keep them open and watch while he brutally murders people close to her in abhorrent ways. When done with the butchering, the killer releases Betty and leaves, just to come back for other friends of hers...

As usual for Argento's films, the violence is extremely graphic and very stylized. "Opera" truly is a brutal film, and what a stylish and atmospheric film it is. This film is absolutely tantalizing and pure suspense from the beginning to the end. The performances are entirely very good, especially Christina Marsillach is brilliant in the lead. A stunning beauty and great actress alike, Marsillach fits perfectly in her role of the talented singer, whose fear and horrid experiences are slowly making her crazy. Other great performances include those of Ian Charleston as a Horror film director who is directing an Opera, and director Argento's real-life girlfriend Daria Nicolodi, who has a role in many of his movies. The camera work is excellent as in all Argento films and The huge Opera House is an excellent setting that contributes a lot both to the film's beauty and its permanently creepy atmosphere. The score, which is partly classical music and partly heavy metal is brilliant, as are all scores to Argento Classics. The soundtrack includes work by the great Claudio Simonetti, whose band Goblin also contributed the fantastic Progressive Rock scores to most other Argento masterpieces. "Opera" truly is a terrifying and absolutely breathtaking Giallo experience. This is an absolute must-see for any Horror lover, and I highly recommend it to any other film-fan who is not too sensitive when it comes to extreme violence. Excellent and absolutely tantalizing!

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Perhaps the last truly definitive Argento horror.

Author: Graham Greene from United Kingdom
29 December 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Opera (also known as Terror At The Opera) was a notoriously difficult shoot for Argento, with a number of personal tragedies and professional setbacks befalling the film before it had even reached the production stage. It would also be something of a monument in his career; a return to form in the sense of it being the follow up to his much-criticised supernatural horror/thriller Phenomena, and his return to the giallo-style of film-making that he had earlier perfected with masterworks like Deep Red and Tenebrae. It was the third Argento film that I saw after later films, The Stendhal Syndrome and Trauma, neither of which left too much of an impression on me. Opera, on the other hand, was much more impressive, as it is the film of his later career that seems more indebted to the style and freedom of his earlier, more-groundbreaking works.

Opera remains, perhaps, the last truly definitive Argento thriller... with the usual giallo trademarks employed to a dizzying effect in a number of vicious, though no less elaborate, dramatic set-pieces. Admittedly, like much of Argento's work, Opera can occasionally seem like something of a throwaway... a lurid thriller, populated by lightweight, clichéd characters, over-the-top performances, and too much style-over-substance. However, one scratch beneath the surface reveals something deeper, with Argento once again playing with the self-reflexive notion of films about film-making; the idea of seeing and the audience's relationship to the perspective of his characters. Like Tenebrae, his boldest experiment in self-reference, Opera frames it's scenes of orchestrated gore around the production of Verdi's Mac Beth, allowing Argento to comment on his own persona and attitude to his film through the character of Marco, Mac Beth's strained director, trying to do his best whilst murder and chaos is breaking out all around him.

There's also the reliance on Argento trademarks... the gloved hands; the drifting point of view shots; the close-ups on the eye; and the lead protagonist who ends up knowing more about the killer than they initially suspected. However, unlike previous Argento giallos, Opera doesn't focus on a male outsider turned amateur sleuth (Bird With The Crystal Plumage, TheCat O' Nine Tails, Deep Red, Tenebrae), but instead, takes it's cue from Suspiria and Inferno, with a female lead setting something of a template for his later films, the above-mentioned Trauma and The Stendhal Syndrome. In terms of enjoyment, Opera certainly rivals Argento's debut picture, Bird With The Crystal Plumage, with that continuing combination of "who-dunnit" detective work (with clues for the audience and the characters), and brutal stalk-and-slash set-pieces, the best of which involves Argento's former muse Daria Nicolodi, a peephole, a shadowy figure, and a gun.

The cinematography is excellent, as ever; falling somewhere between the lurid stylisation of Suspiria's Technicolor abstraction, and the more low-key recreation of reality in Tenebrae, with the camera always moving, establishing a mood of paranoia and unease, or adapting to various character's points-of-view to swoop or linger around the grand, majestic opera house. The colours are vivid, with the interplay between the dark-shadows at the edges of the frame and the deep reds of the opera curtains (or the buckets of blood) that surprisingly pre-figure the use of colour-coding in Kieslowski's final masterpiece, Three Colours Red. Like all of Argento's best work, Opera is violence at it's most shamefully beautiful... with the director composing his scenes of murder and abuse with a painterly eye and an exquisite attention to cinematic detail.

As usual, the acting isn't Oscar worthy, but, at the same time, it's hardly as abysmal as it has been in some of the recent crop of U.S. horror films clogging up our cinemas. The best version, for me, is the original Italian language release, since the dubbing is less obvious and most of the actors seem to calibrate better with their voices. There's some nice turns from lead actress Cristina Marsillach and supporting players Ian Charleson, Urbano Barberini, and the aforementioned Daria Nicolodi (in what I believe to be her last Argento role), which lend an air of prestige and performance believability to the film... though as ever, there's no doubt that it's Argento and his technicians who are really the stars of the film. Although it doesn't quite top the levels of violence seen in the earlier Tenebrae (which is still, perhaps, his most controversial work), Opera manages to stake it's claim as another vicious and violent symphony of blood, with the killer here, at one point, taking the time to stab a victim in the neck... with Argento cutting to a lovely close-up showing the knife sawing away at the jaw-bone.

Another repeated method of torture involves having the heroin tied to a chair, with a strip of needles taped under her eyes, so that every time she tries to blink away from the terror, the needles dig into her eyeballs (unbelievably, Argento actually toyed with using this as an "in-cinema" marketing tool!!!), which is one of his absolute, most vicious concoctions. Unsurprisingly, Opera was heavily censored (like much of Argento's work) at the time of it's release... particularly in the UK. However, now with censorship becoming more relaxed, we can see a film like this (and Tenebrae, and Suspiria... but sadly not Deep Red and Bird With the Crystal Plumage, both of which are still cut) as the director originally intended. Opera looks great here in a re-mastered, uncut, widescreen print, with the format really making the most of Argento's bold use of cinematography.

The ending has often garnered mixed reviews from most Argento fans, perhaps because it's a bit drawn out... However, while I'll admit it's nowhere near as intelligent or satisfying as the endings of his earlier films, it's still no reason to down-grade Opera, which is, regardless of the slight flaws in the finale-act, an entertaining, thrilling and mostly gripping giallo... whilst it's also, perhaps, the best place to start for those new to Argento's work.

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Another solid giallo from Argento, albeit slightly flawed...

Author: Schwenkstar from United States
20 November 2007

Often considered Argento's last "great" film, this entry into the giallo canon is unquestionably better than any Argento film that has followed it (though I have yet to see "Mother of Tears"), but to call it his last "great" film might be stretching it a bit.

The directorial and stylistic flourishes - the hallmark of all Argento films - is indeed present, with some of his sequences of suspense ranking up with his best (the "peephole" sequence is especially memorable), and the cinematography by Ronnie Taylor is outstanding (the fluorescent lighting is beautiful).

However, the narrative - which is hit and miss in all of Argento's films - is missing here. There is indeed a potent sense of mystery and intrigue, but the plot resorts to what is essentially a string of murder sequences, with one following the another, leaving no real time to fully construct a right, focused mystery to be solved. All of this results in a climax that is... well... anti-climatic, as the film did not invest enough interest to make us truly care.

Regardless, this is recommended simply due to the masterful direction and beautiful imagery that Argento evokes. I wouldn't' recommend this as a starting point for Argento's films, however (for that, I would recommend either "Deep Red" or "Suspiria"), but if you enjoyed those, or even any giallo, then this is a very good addition to your viewing repertoire.

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A cut above

Author: WarpedRecord
23 October 2007

"Terror at the Opera" is one of Dario Argento's better films, but it's far from his best. What the film lacks in acting and suspense, it almost makes up for in directing and visuals. Almost.

Christina Marsillach plays Betty, an opera diva whose associates are the target of a mysterious, deranged fan who wants her for himself. The killings are extremely gruesome, as are the blades the stalker puts on Betty's lower eyelids to keep her from blinking. In her dreams, Betty has a vision of her tormentor and connects him to her childhood.

The musical scenes are well performed, with Betty's vocals provided by Maria Callas. Unfortunately, the acting is much less convincing, and the scenes drag between the killings. Argento's style is distinctive, though he borrows liberally from Hitchcock's "The Birds" in this film.

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Dazzling, Loony-Toon Mad Slasher Obsessed With Opera Singer Italian Crime Caper

Author: ShootingShark from Dundee, Scotland
11 March 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Betty is as an understudy in a production of Verdi's Macbeth who is asked to go on when the diva is hurt in a car accident. However, in the grand tradition of "The Scottish Play", the production seems cursed with problems, not least of which is some madman slicing up the crew. Unfortunately for Betty, the killer seems to have special plans for her ...

This is one of several must-see Argento mad-slasher flicks, in this instance primarily for the extraordinary photography by the great British cameraman Ronnie Taylor. I haven't measured it, but I reckon around two-thirds of the shots in this film involve either pans, dollies, tracking or cranes - the sheer amount of camera movement is just astonishing and makes the movie ten times more exciting than a standard thriller. The imagery is wild and dizzying - closeups of the heroine's eyes forced open with nails, a swooping glide around an opera house from a raven's point of view, shots of the killer's brain squirming, a bullet fired through a peephole, a swallowed chain dug out of a victim's trachea. Conceptually it's just amazing and could only be realised by this director. The movie isn't without some shortcomings though; the cast are variable at best - Marsillach and Barberini are both a bit shaky (and his dubbing in the English version is appalling, even by Italian standards), although Argento regular Nicolodi is fun and Charleson gives a thoughtful performance in a role that is more than a little autobiographical (a horror director much maligned for his remoteness and reliance on technique). The material is a nice three-way mix of The Phantom Of The Opera, Shakespeare and slasher flick, scripted by Argento and his usual collaborator, Franco Ferrini, with shifty suspects galore and the usual disdain for boring expository scenes to explain what's actually going on. Full of all sorts of different music - Brian Eno, Claudio Simonetti, Bill Wyman, Puccini, and of course, Verdi. The scenes in the beautiful opera-house were shot at the Teatro Regio in Parma. For some bizarre reason the UK print of this movie has the alternative title Terror At The Opera.

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"Go back to horror films, forget opera."

Author: Backlash007 from Kentucky
3 December 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***


It's no secret that I'm not the biggest Argento fan. I do not understand why Suspiria is considered his greatest achievement when I find Tenebre to be a much better film. I thought Deep Red was an absolute bore and Phenomena a creepy horror experience. But Suspiria and Deep Red are his most talked about pictures. How can that be? I think it's his total disregard for logic that puts me off. Dario Argento's Opera falls somewhere in the middle for me. It has a coherent story, but parts of said story are completely ridiculous. The film follows a young opera singer who is being stalked by a deranged killer. However, he's not simply trying to kill her. He makes her watch while he kills others. The young girl, bound and gagged, with needles under her eyelids paints a detailed picture of the movie Argento has created. It's a strong visual indicative of his style. That's one way you can always spot an Argento movie. Not to mention the striking and unique camera angles. Another positive element of the movie is the soundtrack. As you could guess, operatic music plays a large part of the score. But every time the killer strikes, heavy metal comes into play. Who knew heavy metal and opera music complimented each other? Many critics don't like this, but I find it fitting. Without getting too spoiler-heavy, some of the more logic-bending sequences involve ravens as well as a wooden mannequin. And the ending is also a bit on the weird side, what with the incoherent babbling and all. If the finale would have been stronger, Opera would have been a first class, horror treat.

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A short comment by an Argento fan...

Author: ravenlord666 from Slovakia
29 October 2006

No matter how much it hurts me to say this,the movie is not as good as it could have been.Maybe I was misled by the countless exaggerated reviews here on IMDb,but I expected so much more...

Sure,the idea is a good one,the violent scenes and the camera-work are outstanding,the imagination of genius Dario is breathtaking, but the movie is "soiled" by a couple of mistakes that I find unforgivable. First of all, am I one of the few people who feel that the Heavy Metal music played in the most intense scenes simply rips the atmosphere apart??? With a different kind of music (Goblin????) during the "needle" scenes,it would have been SOOOO intense!... Instead,the soundtrack destroys any chance for tension... Secondly, the final killing scene and the last few moments of the movie are simply silly and uninspired. I don't want to say "amateurish", cause I love Argento's movies.The ending left me feeling empty.Talk about a final impression! This is hardly what happens in most of Dario's films! Though,admittedly,Suspiria also suffers from a rushed finale (even if most of it is brilliant)....

In short,watch this movie,try to make the most of its good points,but be prepared for some bad ones as well. This is NOT a perfect movie by ANY means.

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