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I went to Rome in November to attend the first screenings of Dario Argento's The Phantom of the Opera and ended up seeing the movie three times in Italian and once in English. My opinion of the film has already been published in Starburst, suffice it to say that I was genuinely impressed by how Argento and his co-scripter, Gerard Brach, had reinvented the Gaston Leroux story for today's audiences. Personally, the film works best in Italian because lead actor Julian Sands's dialogue sounds better dubbed than with his own voice. His best scene brings the house down. It's when he makes love to his sewer rat companions and slowly undoes his belt buckle as the rodents crawl down his chest. All the stars turned up for the première of the film and I was particularly thrilled to meet composer Ennio Morricone whom I pinned in a corner and babbled on about what a genius he was. Never mind that his eyes glazed over as I listed all the film themes I love - it must happen to him all the time - I was just pleased to be in his presence. Phantom opens in France in January, just as The Stendhal Syndrome is finally released in America, by Troma of all people! The only two territories where the film has not sold yet is America and Great Britain. And, yes, I have already asked to show it at the next Fantasm festival. Next up for Asia Argento is the giallo picture Almost Blue to be directed by her good friend Alex Infascelli, one of her Degenerazione co-directors. The grandson of veteran producer Carlo Infascelli (of Night Train Murders video nasty fame), Alex cast Asia as the police detective on the hunt for a serial killer who assumes the identity of each victim he kills. Based on an Italian best seller, the title comes from a Chet Baker composition and refers to the way a young blind boy describes the murderer to Asia's character. She told me, "I've played a detective before in The Stendhal Syndrome so I feel quite confident I can carry it off. My father has read the script and thinks it's as brilliant as I do". Asia's Phantom co-star Andrea Di Stefano has landed a role in Ridley Scott's movie Gladiators opposite Russell Crowe.
Blood and Chocolate
The werewolf yarn Blood and Chocolate, based on Annette Curtis Klause's young adult novel, is leaping to the big screen courtesy of MGM. It tells the story of an impetuous teenage werewolf who's bored with her lycanthrope packmates and is mourning the loss of her father. When she falls in love with a human boy, an underworld Romeo and Juliet tale unfolds as they struggle to stay together. Pending cast availability, MGM is looking to begin filming in Spring and has hired Larry Williams and Leslie Libman to make their feature directing debut on Blood and Chocolate. The husband-and-wife team have directed numerous music videos (Prince, Boy George, Roy Orbison, Paul Simon and kd lang), commercials and TV shows (Homicide: Life on the Street).
Also in this issue's news... The Toho Company will begin production on a new Godzilla film Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise in Minority Report Bond 19 casting Practical Demon-Keeping by Idle Hands writers Terri Hughs and Ron Milbauer Gary Shandling in What Planet Are You From and much more