Phantom of the Paradise ★★★★

It's all here. Read it carefully, and then sign at the bottom in blood. Messy, I know, but it's the only way I can bind you. Tradition. What do you have to lose?

Brian De Palma creates an original rock opera melding not only The Phantom of the Opera and Faust, but by aping other stories like The Picture of Dorian Gray and Frankenstein. He also borrows, I mean pays "homage" to specific scenes from films like Touch of Evil, Psycho, The Manchurian Candidate and several others. One of the most original films he's ever made.

In all seriousness though, through the ludicrous characters and psychedelic sets, the melding of all these story elements is kinda awesome. I was expecting it to follow the Phantom of the Opera story much more closely, and why not? Telling the story as is in a present day setting with a rock theme would work perfectly, but De Palma goes for something much more ambitious here and it works, even if hardly anyone went out to see it over 40 years ago.

Something I thought was gimmicky at first is the casting of singer/songwriter Paul Williams as the evil record producer Swan. Turns out casting the 5'2" composer as the personification of evil was the perfect casting choice, even though I read that he was almost cast as the lead Phantom.

The lead went to William Finley who is amazingly over the top as the Phantom in his equally over the top costume while Jessica Harper is just this weird fantastic quirky, yet laid back persona as Phoenix. I wanted more of her in the film, but for no real particular reason, she was simply just fun to watch.

Then you have Gerrit Graham as Beef... which, like a lot of the film, I'm not entirely sure what to say about it exactly. It's not a film, it's an experience.

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