Friday, 26 August 2016

Phantom of the Paradise (1974)

The producer known only as Swan is the most powerful man in the music industry.  Becoming his next 'discovery' is a near sure-fire ticket to stardom.

So singer/songwriter Winslow Leach is understandably excited when the Great Man takes an interest in his music.  Unfortunately for Winslow, his music is all that Swan wants.  He himself is surplus to requirements, and when he persists in his efforts to recover his stolen work, he soon finds that Swan's wealth and fame give the producer power outside the music industry as well.

Winslow's efforts to get satisfaction leave him horribly scarred, and he becomes a shadowy, masked figure, haunting Swan's new music venue "The Paradise" with murder on his mind.  But he might still have underestimated the other man's resources ...

So basically what we have here is Phantom of the Opera meets Faust by way of 1970s excess.  Director Brian de Palma - who is probably best known for his bloody epics Carrie and Scarface - also wrote the script, and he fully commits to the melodramatic goth-rock-opera feel of the film.  He's ably assisted by Paul Williams as amiable sociopath Swan (amusingly, Williams also provides the singing voice for sort-of-hero Winslow).  I'm also a fan of the debuting Jessica Harper, who does her own singing and who we will see again when I get around to reviewing Shock Treatment.

I first saw this film on VHS around 20 years ago, and it's stuck with me all that time.  While its mix of melodrama and black comedy won't be for all audiences, if you found any of the above intriguing at all, you should check it out.

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