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Phantom of the Ritz (1988)

A man buys an old, abandoned theater and puts on '50s-type rock shows. Then people start being killed in a rash of "accidents"...



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ed Blake
Nancy Drawing
Russell Curry ...
Joshua Sussman ...
The Phantom
Steve Geng ...
Detective Lastrade
Cindy Vincino ...
B.J. McQueen ...
Officer Russo
Joe Perrone ...
Rock and Roll Star (as Joey Perrone)
Billy (as Bill Cowart)
Anthony Rukstele ...
Greg Johnson ...
Dan Khoury ...
Peter Esfakis ...


Ed Blake is a balding middle-aged man who decides to buy an old movie theater, called The Ritz, to shape it up into a retro 1950s music hangout. With the aid of his loyal girlfriend Nancy, his foreman Bruno, and his assistant Marcus, Ed is able to assemble a construction team to plan to be on time for the grand re-opening. But unknown to everyone, a large and disfigured man lives in the passageways of the old theater since the 1950's occasionally popping out to murder an occasional wino or intruder that happens upon his domain. Written by Matt Patay

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Horror | Musical






Release Date:

30 October 1988 (USA)  »

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User Reviews

Give me Paradise over the Ritz any day of the week.
20 February 2011 | by (Hampshire, England) – See all my reviews

If you only see one rock 'n' roll version of Phantom of the Opera, make it Brian De Palma's excellent Phantom of the Paradise; if you see two, make the second one Phantom of the Paradise as well, 'cos the only other alternative I'm aware of is Phantom of the Ritz, and it is absolute crap!

A prelude set in the 50s sets up the basic premise: horribly burned after a drag racing accident, a young man escapes from hospital and hides himself away in local theatre The Ritz, where he proceeds to terrorise the clientèle. The action then moves to the present day, and sees the now derelict theatre, still occupied by hideously scarred 'phantom', bought by 50s loving entrepreneur Ed Blake (Peter Bergman) who intends to revive his favourite decade with a live rock and roll variety show.

Assisted by girlfriend Nancy (Deborah Van Valkenburgh), project manager Bruno (B.J. McQueen), accountant Sally (Cindy Vincino) and extremely eloquent security man Marcus (Russell Curry), Ed soon whips the theatre into shape, but the phantom, driven crazy by steroids and with a hatred of the decade in which he was disfigured, intends to put a stop to the shows.

Presented as 'horror/comedy', but without a single scare or laugh on offer during the entire running time (unless you count unintentional giggles at the sheer dreadfulness of the whole mess), virtually everything about Phantom of the Ritz is utter garbage: the acting is lousy, the direction pedestrian, there's no gore, and with the majority of the film focusing on the renovation of the theatre and the organisation of the show, those looking for a fun slice of 80s horror cheeze will be sorely disappointed. There's plenty of discussion about colour schemes, a prolonged audition scene during which viewers must endure a plethora of talentless acts going through their routines, and lots of inane chat, but the phantom himself remains out of view until the finalé (save for a few shots of his hands).

After a couple of sell-out shows, during which The Coasters appear to perform their hit 'Yakkity Yak' (don't talk back), the phantom is finally revealed in his entirety (and to be fair, he's a fairly well realised monster) as he grabs Nancy and disappears into the basement, closely pursued by Marcus, Ed and the police. After a struggle, the phantom and The Ritz go up in flames. The End.

2/10 (I find it hard to believe, but I have seen worse!).

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