Phantom of the Paradise
De Palma’s delirious mash-up of Phantom of the Opera, Faust, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and 70s glam-rock is the musical/horror/comedy freak-out that Rocky Horror wanted to be. His rock opera stolen by Machiavellian record producer Swan and his face disfigured when it lands in a record press, songwriter Winslow Leach (De Palma favorite Finley) dons a silver mask and vows to spread terror through the duplicitous Swan’s rock palace The Paradise.
De Palma expertly employs his full bag of tracks, including marvelous camerawork and split screens, in “arguably [his] finest film.” (Time Out) Though it opened and closed with little fanfare (except for its bizarre success in Winnipeg), the film has gone on to become a midnight movie classic.
De Palma’s Carrie is also screening in Ragged Glory: Summer in the 70s.
William Finley gets the role of his career as Winslow Leach, the songwriter whose masterwork, a “rock cantata” retelling of the Faust legend, is stolen by Swan (Paul Williams), the unscrupulous owner of Death Records. Framed and ruined, Winslow gets his face sizzled off in a smoldering record press, then dons leather suit, cape, and metallic mask to haunt the Paradise, Swan’s elaborate rock venue, as the Phantom. De Palma understands the intensity of ’70s rock as the successor to opera’s shuddering arias, and the fervent charge of music electrifies the visuals.
Fernando F Croce, Slant
The film is a one-of-a-kind entertainment, with a kinetic, breakneck wit.
Pauline Kael, New Yorker
Aug 8 Only: Introduction from programmer Selina Crammond
Brian De Palma
Paul Williams, William Finley, Jessica Harper, Gerrit Graham
Grand Prize, Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival 1975
Edward R. Pressman
Brian De Palma