Robert Dominici is a piano virtuoso who, at a young age, is
diagnosed with a very rare rapid ageing disease. Within a
year he degenerates from a good-looking and musically skilled
thirty year old with the world at his feet to a slow and sick
deranged man of eighty. When he kills to cover his secret,
Police Inspector Datti is assigned to investigate. But it
proves more difficult than he first thought, because witnesses
give completely different descriptions after each incident.
As time goes by Dominici becomes increasingly unbalanced and
phones the inspector to taunt him. Then he learns that a woman
is pregnant with his child, and he is suddenly determined
to kill the unborn baby to prevent it suffering his own devastating
Balance, aka Phantom of Death, is an early release
in the Shameless Screen Entertainment collection, which aims
to release a number of violent horror or exploitation films,
many of which will not have been seen in the UK before. This
film's claim to fame (or should that be infamy?) is that it
was helmed by Cannibal Holocaust director Ruggero Deodato.
That knowledge doesn't help the first fifteen minutes which
is an absolute agony to endure. An overlong mimed piano piece
precedes some forced acting and non-linear set pieces which
cause you to lose interest before the film has really got
going. The curious thing is that I changed my opinion of this
movie several times in its duration, but it did gradually
grow on me to a certain extent.
not a fan of exploitation or gore-fest movies which have no
agenda other than to shock and disgust, I consider them in
bad taste. I'm not averse to violent horror, as long as what
takes place is conducive to the plot, rather than a series
of tedious set-pieces. The Shameless releases are marketed
as depraved, vile, disturbing, etc. In this case I was delighted
to discover that Phantom doesn't fall into this category.
Granted, there are violent murders, but they are over in scant
seconds with a small splash of theatre blood and positively
no glorification in the acts. This makes you concentrate more
on the plot and particularly the characters, which is as it
Pleasence reprises his role of Loomis from John Carpenter's
Halloween in all but name, and Michael York appears
to grow into his role as he goes along, as if the older his
character appears the meatier his acting part should become.
When Robert finds out about his rapid-ageing disease, we find
out that the film isn't quite linear in it's plot. The short
scene in which he visits the house of someone with a more
advanced stage of the rare disease is the most meaningful
of the entire film - and it doesn't last more than a few seconds.
conclusion, a better film than I was expecting, and worth
a look if you can stay awake through the opening scenes.