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Terror at the Opera

Insecure Betty steps in for the opera diva Maria Cecova in a modern interpretation of Verdi’s “Macbeth”. Her performance is a success, but a serial killer starts terrorizing the cast. A late Giallo by the Italian master of artful fetishistic ...

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Opera diva Mara Cevoa has to drop out of a new adaptation of Verdi’s Macbeth after an accident and young Betty (Cristina Marsillach) steps in. Her worry of being out of her depth proves to be unfounded. The audience and the press are at the feet of the young singer. But the triumph turns out to be a curse: a masked killer with destructive sexual fetishes stalks Betty and forces her to watch horrible murders with a sadistically refined eye device. Betty loses herself in a psychosexual maze the visual equivalent of the contorted, old European architecture which this modern gothic drama practically bathes in.

Hitchcock’s PSYCHO success encouraged a special kind of flourish: the Italians reveled in their lust of lurid material with the so-called “Giallo,” an intensely stylized subgenre with a consistent stream of masked psycho killers. Dario Argento revolutionized the form of the rote genre and emancipated it into cinematic art in a series of breathtaking films in the 1970s.

Argento’s stylish and Catholic cinematic pathos turned into downright baroque, perverse set pieces in the late-period giallo OPERA. An opulent feast for visual people trying to free themselves from the chains of stringency with the help of an unbridled and voracious camera. The film was banned for a long time and now the Italian genre classic can be seen in Germany where it belongs: in the cinema on the big screen.

Thomas Groh

Translation: Elinor Lewy

Credits

Original title: Terror at the Opera
Italien 1987, 107 min
Genre: Horror
Director: Dario Argento
Author: Dario Argento
DOP: Ronnie Taylor
Music: Brian Eno. Claudio Simonetti, Bill Wyman
Distributor: dropout cinema
Cast: Cristina Marsillach, Ian Charleson. Urbano Barberini. Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni, William McNamara
FSK: 16
Release: 05.01.2017

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