Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Revisit: Phantom of the Paradise

A 20th Century Fox release 1974

Written & Directed by Brian De Palma

Music by Paul Williams

A disfigured musician sells his soul for the woman he loves so that she will perform his music.

Silly, surreal, insane, dumb, infectious and hilarious, Brian De Palma's 1974 gothic rock opera Phantom of the Paradise is deliciously absurd, and one of my favorite films. Starring the beautiful Jessica Harper (best known from another one of my favorites, Suspiria) and legendary Muppets/Carpenters songwriter Paul Williams, the film is basically a suped-up, drugged up, 70's version of Phantom of the Opera.

The first time I watched this I was quite infuriated; I had no idea what was going on, what the point of it was, why the characters were breaking out into such awful songs. By the end of my first viewing, I was hooked. The film has a 'so bad it's good' quality to it, until you realize that it's actually a work of genius. The off-beat music, the ridiculous costumes, the absurd humor -- it all works together to form this highly energetic, completely insane film that can never be duplicated.

I have a particular fondness for this film, and I know not everyone enjoys it as much as I do. But give it a shot -- you may find it delightfully entertaining.

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