Swan (Paul Williams) is a universally successful musician
and promoter, ever on the lookout for new acts to extend his
fame. When he steals Winslow's opus (based on Dante's travels)
and gives the work to another act, the budding composer is
understandably angry and seeks retribution. An accident in
a record press results in a cross between Mad Max and
The Rocketeer on speed. When the Phantom Winslow is
double-crossed a second time he creates havoc at the newly
opened Paradise in his attempt to kill Swan and save an innocent
female singer from his clutches. But Swan is in league with
the devil, and Winslow's fate is tied-up in the same contract...
you might have already guessed from the title and opening
paragraph Phantom of the Paradise is a purposeful reworking
of the horror classic The Phantom of the Opera. It
was written and directed by Brian De Palma, whose projects
are nothing if not diverse. That might be one reason why this
film is difficult to properly classify. Like John Carpenter's
Big Trouble in Little China the plot straddles a handful
of genres; in this case, musical, horror, comedy and slapstick.
In fact, at times the feel and movement is reminiscent of
The Keystone Cops. Essentially, it falls more firmly into
the former category.
in 1974, Phantom has been described as a send-up of
the glam rock era, but more accurately parodies progressive
rock. The idea of a musical opus relating Dante's journey
in the underworld would not have been out of place in this
period. For example, Rick Wakeman's Journey to the Centre
of the Earth concept album was released the same year
and did well in the music charts.
music itself ranges from the entertaining to the annoying.
Whether this was intentional is debatable, but overall it's
pretty good. However, the whole package is so strange and
off-kilter It would undoubtedly be better enjoyed with company
after a few beers. The manic pace certainly wouldn't stand
repeated viewings. In my humble opinion The Rocky Horror
Picture Show did this so much better, whilst knowing exactly
what it wanted to achieve.
is not a bad film, but it's close.
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