De Palma is nothing if not precise and ambitious: Phantom emerges as a brutally sardonic satire of a bloated, uninspired pop music scene. Its jokes, its music, its cinematic techniques—all are incisive, sneaky rather than stoned.
It’s the ol’ show-biz yarn—artist meets bigwig, crass commercialism ensues—à la De Palma. Expect the familiar beats: split screens, dizzying cinematography, balcony-reaching theatrics and sensationalism. But in a Hitchcockian twist, it’s a musical, one genre De Palma would never touch again, even if it’s one his bombastic style most easily feeds.
My buddy and I saw this when we were teens, and loved it, even tho critics said that the Faust/Phantom of the Opera/Dorian Grey thing was over our heads...it wasn't for us. Saw it again last year, and found it slightly cheesy, but in a campy way, and still rewarding. Paul Williams is truly sinister! I know, he was composer for the Carpenters and Muppets; they are also discretely sinister. No offense, I love them all!
De Palma should delve into the abstract more often- I really dug just how stylized and mythical this film was and the fact that it drew on some of the finest pieces of tragic, gothic literature as influence, namely Phantom of the Opera, Faust, and Picture of Dorian Gray, while still managing to retain a contemporary feel that is equal parts storytelling as it is criticism of the music industry and 60s/70s culture.
Rewatch. Last time I had seen this I was in college...still fun to watch. I had forgotten how much of a corporate dystopia this film is! De Palma hates corporations. Jessica Harper sounds like Christine McVie when she sings and the design of the Death Records office is boss.
Pretty easy to forget that De Palma started off his career making dangerous comedies, and that when he works in a comic register that is when the real anarchy happens. PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE still seems like a revolutionary act, though to what end it is hard to say. There probably aren't any other movies that are more fun. Probably aren't any that are better cast, neither. As pleasurable as a really good party.
Despite the variety of source material, this one of De Palma's lest derivative works. A fun midnight flick to watch with a group of friends on a weekend. Also, might be the first instance with a person wearing a grill
De Palma buries a personal commentary on creative freedom & the exploitation of the artist beneath a post-modern blend of Goethe & Leroux, camp B-movie horror & exaggerated glam rock. The film works as both a vicious music "biz" satire & dazzling phantasmagoria, full of heightened emotions, bold imagery & clever storytelling. The intelligent, self-reflexive soundtrack by Williams is one of the films greatest assets.
A fabulous mixture of classical music & '70s rock, this is De Palma's rare tour-de-force cult classic (also one of his best). You never get to watch this kind of De Palma very often. (post-SISTERS) William Finley and (pre-SUSPIRIA) Jessica Harper are truly brilliant together, especially Harper's singing moments.
Brian DePalma's camp rock opera is definitely cheesy, but packs enough memorable imagery and sharp filmmaking to designate itself as a minor cult classic. The songs by Paul Williams are merely adequate, and the musical numbers tend to go on too long, but this is an entertaining oddity even if DePalma is a bit out of his element.