A rock musical from 1974, directed by Brian De Palma with music by Paul Williams. Much like The Rocky Horror Picture Show, it did not do well in its initial release (outside of Winnipeg and Paris that is, for whatever reason) but went on to develop a cult-like following through midnight screenings in various locations. Jessica Harper, who would go on to play Janet Majors in Shock Treatment several years later, makes her film debut here as Phoenix.
Amazon.com DVD Review: Describing Brian De Palma's Phantom of the Paradise as an update of the classic Phantom of the Opera doesn't do justice to this demented movie. While De Palma's Hitchcock homages have sometimes led him into dead ends, this rock & roll remake seems to have liberated De Palma's imagination, and the result is weird and funny, with the scruffy underground spirit of the director's early pictures. The Phantom is one Winslow Leach (William Finley), a nerdy songwriter whose "pop cantata" on the subject of Faust is stolen by a freakish, Phil Spector-like rock impresario called Swan (Paul Williams). After getting his head caught in a vinyl-LP compressor, Leach is transformed into a masked creature, haunting Swan's music palace, the Paradise. De Palma proves how nimbly he can establish narrative rhythm: the story moves like a cannon shot, and the musical numbers (especially in the Alice Cooper-like Paradise sequences) are brilliantly cut. The movie seems to predict the Studio 54 scene, MTV, and punk rock--the last, especially, in the figure of Beef, a screeching singer played by the unhinged Gerrit Graham. The songs were written by Paul Williams, that diminutive '70s music icon (he cowrote the Barbra Streisand wet noodle "Evergreen"), and his performance is a reminder of his peculiar, self-spoofing presence: at one point, the preening Swan announces, "You know how I abhor perfection in anyone but myself." Comedy, musical, horror film, '70s artifact--this movie isn't quite definable, and that's what's wonderful about it. --Robert Horton
|Phantom of the Paradise (Long Trailer) - 2 minutes 9 seconds (540x416, 25 fps, 14.4 MB). "A gothic horror story... a beautiful love story... a cinematic odyssey through the rock universe... from Grease to glitter and beyond. The story of a sound, the man who created it, the girl who sang it, the monster who stole it, and the Phantom who haunts the Paradise - the ultimate rock palace." Jessica Harper makes her 1974 film debut here, as Phoenix, and Paul Williams (who also composed the music) is featured as Swan.|
|Phantom of the Paradise (Short Trailer) - 1 minute 1 second (540x416, 25 fps, 6.8 MB). "They destroyed his face, his voice, the woman he loved... and he wanted it back. He terrified a city, and no natural force could stop him." Jessica Harper makes her 1974 film debut here, as Phoenix, and Paul Williams (who also composed the music) is featured as Swan.|
|Old Souls (Live at Phantompalooza 2) by Jessica Harper - 1 minute 22 seconds (480x360, 30 fps, 6.1 MB). Jessica Harper sings "Old Souls" from Phantom of the Paradise live at the Phantompalooza 2 fan convention in Winnipeg on April 29th, 2006. Paul Williams joins her on stage after, while the crowd chants 'Phoenix'.|
|The Hell Of It (The Brady Hour) by Paul Williams - 4 minutes 27 seconds (480x360, 30 fps, 29.4 MB). Paul Williams performs his song "The Hell Of It", from the Phantom of the Paradise soundtrack, on what turned out to be the final episode of The Brady Hour variety show. He even engages in introductory banter with Greg and Peter Brady, and looks terribly awkward toward the end of the song when he's supposed to be playing the fake organ manual. Originally aired on May 25th, 1977.|
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