I’ve decided to subject myself to 31 days of horror films for the month of October. It will be a mix of rewatching stuff I haven’t seen in a while and brand new things. Day 31:
PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE (1974) – dir. Brian De Palma
I had to end Halloween with one of my favorite movies ever. That’s right, not just in the horror genre but rather all of cinema. PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE is one of those rare oddities that I can’t pick out anything I dislike about it. It’s the perfect mixture of horror, comedy, musical, and commentary on social issues. De Palma is one of my favorite directors that has ever lived and I can say this is one of his crowning achievements.
The plot draws a parallel from “Faust” as savant music composer/singer Winslow Leach (William Finley) makes a deal with the devil in the form of the record producer Swan (the great Paul Williams). Swan steals Leach’s masterpiece and plans to use it to open his hedonistic music venue “The Paradise” with a 1950’s style surf rock band. This rightfully angers Leach and he tries to steal back his work but is framed and sent to prison by Swan. Winslow breaks out but becomes disfigured in the process and dons a phantom look to haunt The Paradise. Of course his revenge is sidetrack and hindered by a number of problems and that’s where the real meat of the film lies.
While the plot draws from many different sources like “Faust”, “Phantom of the Opera, and “The Portrait of Dorian Grey”, it still manages to seem completely fresh and new. The music in it hits on every level whether it be the parody songs of surf rock groups, glam rock, or just operatic singing. The look of the film is so original that Daft Punk said they model their look after Leach’s Phantom look.
I love ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, but to me this film is the premiere horror musical. I love the film with every fiber of my being and I can’t say enough you should seek it out, even if musicals are not your thing. A favorite of mine not just for Halloween but any ocassion.