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Phantom of the Paradise

Phantom of the Paradise (1974)
The Most Highly Acclaimed Horror Phantasy Of Our Time.
Brian De Palma

Brian De Palma

Paul Williams
William Finley
Jessica Harper
George Memmoli
Gerrit Graham
Archie Hahn
Jeffrey Comanor
Harold Oblong
Colin Cameron
David Garland
Gary Mallaber
Art Munson
Mary Margaret Amato
Rand Bridges
James Bohan,

Review by The_Void

Musical and Horror combine to great effect!,
Brian De Palma is a filmmaker that takes existing ideas, and regurgitates them into something fresh and original (or at least he tries to). Usually it’s Hitchcock that comes under De Palma’s ‘list of things to tribute’, but on this occasion it’s the classic tales of ‘Phantom of the Opera’ and the German legend, ‘Faust’ that get the honours. De Palma has managed to fuse the two stories into one…very, very weird film.

Winslow Leach is a musician who has his lyrics stolen by the megalomaniac record producer known as ‘Swan’. Winslow doesn’t take this lightly, and much less so when he gets framed by Swan and sent to Sing-Sing. However, he gets out and while attempting to avenge himself, he ends up falling into a record press, which disfigures his face…ouch. The plot thickens due to the fact that Swan is planning to open up a new rock club known as ‘The Paradise’, and it’s Winslow’s lyrics that he wants to use for the opening. However, now scarred and with nowhere to go; Winslow decides to haunt The Paradise with the help of a silly plastic mask…becoming known as ‘The Phantom’. But wait! The fun doesn’t stop there, as De Palma, not content with an already thick plot has decided to complete the Phantom of the Opera side of the story by adding a girl singer for the phantom to obsess over – here played by Jessica Harper.

This is an important film for Jessica Harper, as it is with this performance that she impressed Dario Argento into giving her a role in her career highlight – ‘Suspiria’. It’s a shame that Harper didn’t make more films, as she has a very cute look that bodes well with the euro-horror feel that is abundant in both this film and, obviously, Suspiria. I’m not sure what Brian De Palma was trying to achieve with this film…there’s no real point to it, and the plot is anything but coherent a lot of the time, leading me to believe that he simply wanted to make a flamboyant musical with horror elements, and if that is the case; I dare say he succeeded. Phantom of the Paradise is a lot of fun; the musical numbers are hilariously entertaining, and the movie is very fun overall. Some people won’t be able to appreciate it, just because it is so surreal and absurdly weird; but if you’re a fan of that type of film, you’ve come to the right place.

While not as well done as ‘Dressed to Kill’ or some of De Palma’s other tributes, and although the plot can get a little messy at times; Phantom of the Paradise stands out because it’s so different to almost anything else ever made, and it comes with a recommendation for that reason.

Phantom of the Paradise (1974)

Review by Wayne Malin

Rock version of “Phantom of the Opera”
Evil record producer Swan (Paul Williams) steals Winslow’s (William Finley) music, imprisons him, he escapes, gets his face caught in a record press and is believed dead. He isn’t, of course, and haunts Swan’s new rock palace (the Paradise) as the Phantom. He also falls in love with the lovely Phoenix (Jessica Harper)…but Swan wants her too.

An early movie from Brian DePalma that was a bomb at the box office. Easy to see why. It has it’s good points–DePalma direction is excellent (as always), the film references fly fast and furious and Gerrit Graham is very funny as the bisexual Beef. But the movie is horribly paced; Phantom’s character is tortured needlessly and cruelly; the music is so-so (VERY early 70s sound); Williams is seriously miscast; Finley overacts; Harper underacts (having her dance was a bad idea too) and the film’s tone wavers uncomfortably between comedy, horror and tragedy.

Worth a look for some incredible sets and the great direction, but not really a good movie.

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