Phantom of the Paradise ★★★★

Reviewed as part of the 50 Years of Horror Challenge. You can find my list here if you'd like to follow along!

Stitching together pieces of Phantom of the Opera, Faust, Frankenstein, and The Picture of Dorian Gray with its own brand of zealous absurdity is Phantom of the Paradise. It's a visual and sonic feast, rarely relenting in the action, comedy, drama, and eeriness. And the music is pretty killer to boot.

Brian de Palma directs this film into a whirlwind, with rapid camera movement, playful editing, and a plot line that leaps forward at several intervals to get where it needs to be. All this is supported by the musical stylings of the fantastic Paul Williams, with great variety of instruments, styles, and vocalists in tow. Though the movie bombed initially, it was still nominated for multiple awards for music; and deservedly so.

Being a musical, it's easy to get caught up in the soundtrack (and I can't stress enough how entertaining it is) but the sets, costumes and makeup work are stylish and memorable in equal parts. In particular, I absolutely love the "Phantom" costume design (inspiration for Berserk perhaps? The world may never know). There is a cheesy, showy aspect to it, yet in many scenes it can be absolutely frightening as well. The secluded recording studio sequences in particular look incredibly surreal.

The cast are all very enjoyable too, with really no weak links. They're all over the top and full of life. Honestly I've only got a few qualms with the film; namely a couple sequences that drag on a bit (especially in comparison to the film's otherwise rapid pace) and some awkwardness in the script stemming from some of the sexual implications. It's actually a pretty light movie despite these (no actual sex/nudity and very minimal blood) so it doesn't feel natural when it's mentioned in a movie that otherwise shows you nothing. These things aside though leave a very fun and creative film that deserves to be bigger than it is.

You can find this review here, as well as my other reviews at HorrorReviewed.

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