Phantom of the Paradise ★★★★

Quickie Review 
Brian De Palma may have made some interesting films in his lifetime but there’s never been one as outlandish or vibrant or downright insane as this rock-infused romantic-comedy-musical-horror-thriller that’s Phantom of the Opera meets “Faust”! Winslow Leach (William Finley) is a songwriter who is betrayed by enigmatic and ruthless music mogul Swann (Paul Williams, who also wrote and composed the songs for the movie) when he takes his music and even worse, he takes Phoenix (Jessica Harper), the girl that Winslow had his heart set on singing the songs he wrote. Soon after, Winslow has his teeth replaced with all silver molars while in prison, escapes prison, wrecks the building that’s home to Swann’s record label Death Records, burns half his face in a freak accident, shot by police and seemingly falls into a pier to his death. But Winslow returns as the Phantom to ensure that no one else but Phoenix sings his songs and to exact revenge on the devilish Swann by wrecking havoc on his club, The Paradise. The film is a bonkers descent into utter insanity and brings us a character in a De Palma movie more tragic than any other character in any of his previous films but there’s a darkly comic bent to his misfortunes, like you feel bad for him as all these hellish things are happening to him but there’s this jet black sense of humor permeating around his misfortunes. Still, De Palma makes sure that we remain on his side and understand that, in the midst of the grandeur, Swann is the bad guy in all this (Williams is a gleefully evil delight). Then, you have Jessica Harper as Phoenix. This was her first movie and for a debut performance, she really stands out to many who watch this the first time. She is definitely the beating heart of the entire story. Energetic, melodic, wickedly funny and surprisingly tragic, Phantom of the Paradise is truly one-of-a-kind in De Palma’s directing filmography.

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