Phantom of the Paradise ★★★½

Geoff T's Hoop-Tober 3.0 Challenge
Shock Rock Musical Double Bill #1
Phantom of the Paradise (1974)

I have to say that out of all the movie genres out there, few are as unappealing to me as the musical. I guess I never was a big fan of characters in a narrative breaking out into song and dance. Regardless of that, I have to say that Brian De Palma's Phantom of the Paradise is one exception. It's a totally insane and out-of-this-world rock opera retelling of Phantom of the Opera ad Faust that I took an instant liking to.

It tells the story of an evil record producer named Swan, played by rock musician Paul Williams. He plans on opening a rock palace by the name of the "Paradise", and is looking to use some new talent. One of such is aspiring musician Winslow (William Finley from Sisters), whose music gets chosen to for the palace on opening night.That is until he is double-crossed and framed by Swan. Now, disfigured and disgraced, he's taking to the Paradise (donning black leather and a silver mask) to extract revenge upon Swan and take back what's his.

The character of Winslow is a tragic one, but when he has everything taken from him you can only feel sorry for him. Williams puts on a fun villainous performance as Swan, and a pre-Suspiria Jessica Harper appears as Winslow's shy love interest Phoenix. As well as some satire on the music industry at the time, De Palma stages this with bonkers set-pieces with his usual split-screen techniques and stylistic touches, along with embracing it's campy nature all the way through, which just makes it all the more entertaining.

With the whole craze surrounding similar films like Rocky Horror Picture Show, I think it's a shame this one doesn't have nearly as much of a cult following. With it's memorable glam-rock music-numbers, brilliantly over-the-top characters and a campy aesthetic, this is a truly wacky spectacle that is worth your time.


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