Synopsis by Cavett Binion
This mundane, predictable psycho-thriller was originally conceived as a sequel of sorts to the 1989 version of Phantom of the Opera, another unsuccessful horror vehicle for Robert Englund. Filmed on location in St. Petersburg, the film stars Englund as the co-director of a prestigious Russian dance academy whose students are systematically murdered by an unknown interloper shortly after the arrival of an American student (Michelle Zeitlin) -- whom Englund perceives as a young version of his former lover, the wheelchair-bound Svetlana. By the time the clueless ingenue figures out who's responsible, half of her classmates have already been drowned, hanged or thrown from various heights. Unfortunately, the entire "mystery" hinges on a laughably transparent attempt at visual deception; it's painfully obvious from the get-go that Englund's relationship with the invalid Svetlana is remarkably similar to that of Norman Bates and dear old Mom -- something the students fail to recognize, even to the bitter end. A few red herrings are batted about, but they serve more to annoy the audience than to convolute the plot. It's hard to tell whether writer/director Greydon Clark (who graced us with the likes of Satan's Cheerleaders) wanted to draw parallels to Dario Argento's Suspiria, but he's definitely out of his league here regardless. The atmospheric locales provide some degree of class, but their somber potential is sadly wasted.
academy, dance [art], dance-troupe, murder, wheelchair