Phantom of the Paradise (Brian de Palma, 1974)

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Phantom of the Paradise, directed by Brian de Palma (1974)

Score: What the fuck did I just watch.

I came to this because both my Dad and a coworker who loves movies recommended it and I’m honestly feeling so attacked right now. I guess I’m old and sour enough to see the tag “cult” and run away in the opposite direction now.

Phantom of the Paradise is a shameless pastiche of The Phantom of the Opera, in that there is a guy in a silly costume fucking around in a theatre, Faust, in that someone makes a deal with the devil, and The portrait of Dorian Gray, in that that someone stays young and something else ages for him. Swan is like the most powerful man on earth, running an insanely successful record label, and decides to steal Winslow Leach’s music, who apparently is too ugly to be a star, no matter how lovely his voice is. Throw in Phoenix, an aspiring singer who will do anything for a standing ovation, and unintentional hilarity ensues.

The plot is retarded a hundred per cent of the time. It includes stuff like ***SPOILERS*** Winslow escaping from forced labor in a cardboard box, Beef being electrocuted to death when the Phantom tosses a lightning-shaped neon lamp at him, and of course, Swan’s demise. If the videotape is the key to your immortality, why do you just leave it lying around so the idiot with the silly helmet can find it and kill you?***END SPOILERS*** But at the same time, it is strangely relatable. A musical producer is the devil? Sure, we can all buy that, let’s stand up against the decadence of music industr– Oh, Beyoncé’s last single is out!!

The music is quite nice, actually. It was probably the only part of the movie that I really enjoyed (and it’s also deliciously ironic that it was written by the actor who plays Swan), and design production is really another highlight. The film looks good, in all its glossy, 1970’s colourful glory. And the Phantom’s helmet is quite cool, I have to admit it.

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