Ready for a Super Soylent Green Day Saturday Night, well, here you go! I never saw "Phantom Of The Paradise" until recently, and the basic reason is that I was never a fan of the schmaltzy pop music of Paul Williams, and that's what I thought it was all about! I was wrong, and I stand corrected, this movie rocks, and as an extra bonus, it even comes with introductory narration by Mr. Twilight Zone himself, Rod Serling!
"Phantom Of The Paradise is a musical, and as bright and snappy as it might look, the funniest thing is that it's not really a comedy, in fact despite some moments of hilarity, it is actually a pretty gruesome horror tale that was both written and directed by Brian De Palma, so what else would you expect? Mr. De Palma hasn't made any movies since 2007, but has written, and is directing a new murder mystery that is coming out next year entitled "Passion." Might be something new to actually look forward to!
So, let's just start at the end, the multi-talented Paul Williams has credits that go on forever, and if writing all the songs for the incredibly bad movie "Ishtar" in 1987 didn't kill his career, maybe he really did sell his soul to the devil! For this role, Paul is Swan, the over the top devious head of Swan Records, and the owner of the ultimate rock palace, The Paradise!
There's a young pianist named Winslow Leach who thinks the world should be his oyster, and his rebellious soul is just about to meet up with, "Did somebody call security?"
This is indeed the last guy in the world whose finger or leg you want to pull. Not only was Winslow Leach forcibly ejected from The Paradise, he now also has drugs planted on him. He was playing around with the wrong people!
Next stop, The Nuthouse!! Speaking of The Nuthouse, he ain't Irish, but today is Tabonga's birthday!
Winslow Leach didn't really die, but he was horribly disfigured, a condition he hides behind this wacky mask!
William Finley met Brian De Palma when they both attended college, and went on to work with Brian on numerous projects that included "The Fury," and "The Black Dahlia!"
Deals are made between the devil and the dead!
The desk that Swan sits at for the auditions looks like a giant 7" 45 record! Hard to believe that millions of people today have no idea what that even is! Harder to believe is that two years before De Palma's "Carrie," Sissy Spacek was the Art Department set dresser for "Phantom Of The Paradise!"
Swan's number one act is The Juicyfruits, a moldable group of guys that morph easily from Doo-Wop to Surf to Death! Left to right are Archie (Eat Or Be Eaten) Hahn, Jeffrey Comanor in his only acting gig, but he did write some of the music for "Midnight Cowboy," and Peter (Disco Beaver From Outer Space) Elbling! In all my meanderings, this is the first time I've been able to reference The Firesign Theatre, and National Lampoon in the same caption!
You gotta love these thee guys, here they are again in their incarnation as The Undeads!
Next up is the fabulous Gerrit Graham as Beef! Gerritt would be irreplaceable in flicks like "Beware! The Blob," "Tunnel Vision," and "TerrorVision!"
How about a little role reversal on the "Psycho" shower scene?
We've been trying to cut back on our photos about a third, but Beef is so animated, I could have easily just shown you 20 shots of him and been done a whole lot sooner!
The supposed so pure and innocent love interest of Winslow is Jessica Harper as Phoenix! You'll remember Jessica from her starring role in "Suspiria" when Zillagord gets around to doing it one of these days! Another one of the weirdest things about "Phantom Of The Paradise" is that if I'm not mistaken, every person I have mentioned so far is still alive and kicking to this day! That's not something that happens too often around here!
When Beef goes down, it's finally time for Phoenix's star to shine, before she is dragged down into the quagmire of despair known as Swan's world!
I told you this wasn't a comedy, and as you can well see for yourself, it's no laughing matter, nor was I kidding!!!
I took a class on the films of Jean Renoir many, many years ago, and if there was one thing I learned, it was that movies don't have to necessarily be just comedy or drama, that they can be like real life, funny one minute and tragic the next. That pretty much sums up this cross between "Faust" and "The Phantom Of The Opera!" Yeah, and no happy ending neither!