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There isn’t a doubt in my mind; OPERA ($25) is one of Dario Argento’s finest achievements as a horror director. OPERA is an incredibly stylish film that features marvelously inventive camera work, plus all the blood and gore that fans of Italian horror cinema have come to expect. Additionally, with OPERA, Argento pushes his penchant for voyeurism to new cinematic heights. In OPERA, the film’s heroine is literally forced to watch sadistic killing by the means of having needles taped to her eyelids- making it impossible for her to close her eyes. The plot of OPERA involves a young opera singer who is understudying the role of Lady MacBeth in an avant-garde production of Verdi’s opera. When the resident diva gets into an accident, the understudy is thrust into the spotlight. Unfortunately, bad luck follows every production of the Verdi opera, and this one is no exception. As it turns out, there is a mad killer on the loose- a faceless someone who has begun to dispatch members of the company, while our heroine helplessly watches each brutal killing. The cast of OPERA features Cristina Marsillach, Ian Charleson, Urbano Barberini and Daria Nicolodi.

Anchor Bay Entertainment has made OPERA available on DVD in a THX certified, 2.35:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. This is a very good-looking transfer that provides a sharp and well-defined image. There is a bit of grain in places and a few specks, but otherwise this is a very smooth and pleasing presentation. Colors are strongly rendered, with natural flesh tones and no signs of chroma noise or smearing. Blacks are right on the money and the picture delivers a healthy dose of shadow detail. Digital compression artifacts maintain a very low profile throughout.

For this release, OPERA features newly created Dolby Digital EX and DTS ES soundtracks. Both soundtracks are highly engaging and go to great lengths to make the circa 1987 recordings to sound as new as possible. The surrounds aren’t as aggressive as they would be in a newer film, but they are effectively deployed during key moments during the film. Dialogue reproduction is clean and intelligible, but owing to the fact that much of the dialogue is dubbed into English, the vocals aren’t always convincingly natural. Since the film revolves around opera, there is plenty of music in this film, and it all sounds very good. As to which discrete soundtrack is better, in this instance, there is no clear-cut winner, with both sounding quite good. The film’s original Dolby Surround soundtrack is also encoded onto the DVD, although it is far less engaging than the newly re-mixed 5.1/6.1 soundtracks.

Music underscores the DVDs basic interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few supplements. Conducting Dario Argento's Opera is a thirty-six minute documentary on the making of the film, which includes recent interviews with members of the cast and crew, as well as a look behind the scenes. This is a solid documentary, offering far more insight than one finds on the "fluffy" featurettes contained on American movies. Theatrical trailers, a Dario Argento biography, plus a music video for "Opera" by Daemonia close out the DVD’s supplemental materials.

As I stated above, OPERA is one of Dario Argento’s very best films. Anchor Bay’s DVD looks and sound great, making this a "must have" disc for his numerous fans.




DVD reviews are Copyright 2001 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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