The Phantom of the Opera Dwight H. Little

You're a B mogul named Menahem Golan and you're looking to piggyback on the success of Andrew Lloyd Webber's latest smash-hit musical. You know that the show's constituency is bourgeois, mild in temperament and fond of ballet posters and ceramic harlequins, so you naturally appeal to this demographic with the sure-fire casting of… Freddy Krueger? Yes, Robert Englund is the Phantom and he's haunting the opera with a vengeance, though I can't imagine who would get much out of this cheapjack rip-off aside from the least discerning gore hound. New York opera aspirant Christine Day (Jill Schoelen) is beaned by a sandbag and sent back to Victorian London in order to go through the motions of Gaston Leroux's perennial production; this time, however, the Phantom has taken to stitching human flesh to his face and he's takin' out the trash like never before. Though it's lavish by B standards, the film's ambition reaches beyond its production values: it's clearly been thrown together at the last minute, from the cramped Budapest locations to the uneasy performances to the "atmospheric" Vaseline on the lens, even the frequent gory murders fail to register on the consciousness. Still, Englund's scenery-chewing is pretty entertaining, and though he's let down by some bad make-up and dialogue that would embarrass the least of the Elm Street sequels, he has a zesty exuberance that the rest of the production lacks. Plus: trailer. (MGM)