Phantom of the Paradise

Phantom of the Paradise ★★★★

This is, I think, only my fourth De Palma movie (the others being Carrie, Mission: Impossible, and The Untouchables). It's half a horror film and half a musical and all insane. Like, this is super nuts. It takes the stories of Faust and The Phantom of the Opera and a bit of Frankenstein and The Picture of Dorian Gray and puts them in the context of 70s psychedelia and shot with De Palma's in-your-face style. At the outset I was afraid I was in for another Tommy experience, and that wasn't a nice proposition. Luckily, De Palma avoids that film's major pitfalls by having several characters about whom I care (the titular Phantom, the sleazy (and satanic) record producer, and the siren with whom both are obsessed) and injecting some actually comedic humor into what might have been overly dour/crazy happenings. I'll admit that I don't really love this style of music, and the end credit song which acts as a kiss-off to the villainous Swan, played delightfully by Paul Williams, is probably the best of the bunch, but at least I didn't hate most of them. And the visuals, oh yes, the visuals. Instead of going so over the top, De Palma reigns everything in just a bit, the slightest bit, which serves to ground the action and drama in an almost-believable milieu. It is delightfully crazy, and I'm glad I watched it.