huh? a phantom?
phantom of the paradise is a cult classic, campy horror movie made in 1974 by brian de palma, starring paul williams, william finley, and jessica harper. it honestly didn't get much attention when it came out, even the reviews were a little lackluster. since it came out around the same time as rocky horror picture show, it was drowned out by that movie which had very similar vibes and themes. however, now in the modern age it's become the cult movie lover's cult movie. i feel like it's more popular now than it was when it came out.
i first discovered this movie through some fanart on my instagram feed. i thought "hmmm, this is some cool art and cool character design, let me check it out!". i wish i could remember who drew the fanart so i could share it, but alas, i do not. all i know is the character design of the phantom is what piqued my interest into watching the movie. and oh boy, did it not disappoint.
now, i won't call myself an enjoyer of musicals by any means. sure, i do love rocky horror picture show and phantom of the opera... but i wouldn't say that it's a genre that i'm a "fan" of. some of my favorite movies just HAPPEN to be musicals! so i didn't really expect this movie to ALSO be a musical. keep in mind, the only exposure i had to this movie before watching was just this fanart, so i went in completely blind.
the plot is essentially a retelling of the story of phantom of the opera and faust. a tortured composer has his music stolen by a music producer giant named swan and essentially has his entire life ruined. permanently disfigured by a record press being smashed on his face, he hides behind a mask, black cloak, and leather. he haunts a concert venue and wreaks havok on this music producer until he's forced to let him take part in the writing of HIS OWN music that was stolen. of course, at the cost of selling his soul to him. which, yeah swan is actually the devil.
the rest of the movie follows the phantom as swan continues to ruin his music under the guise of trying to help him. gets his fame stolen, his girl stolen, has his life ruined a SECOND time. he writes his entire life's work in a week and his reward is being sealed behind a brick wall in a room hidden in the paradise. of course he breaks out. he then wreaks some more havok, saves his girl from being assassinated on live TV for views, and then dies!
i really like this movie solely for how ridiculously CAMPY it is! the characters are so exaggerated and silly, the plot is dramatic to the point where it's almost cringeworthy, visually it's stunning though. i really love the costume and set design. it gives PEAK 1970's overindulgence. especially for one of the best side characters ever written... BEEF.
this fucking guy... he is the gayest, most dumbest fucking guy on earth and i LOVE him. every moment he is on screen it is a treat. beef is the singer swan hires to sing the phantom's music instead of phoenix, the love interest. absolutely the opposite of what phoenix is, just very glam rock while phoenix is more a concert singer. but my god is beef great, just the way his character talks and his interactions with the other characters is amazing. i guess... SPOILERS!!! he dies, and he's wheeled out of the paradise on a stretcher and there's a giant crowd of people outside chanting "BEEF! BEEF! BEEF! BEEF!". it's incredible and i love it.
the only thing that gets me about this movie is the ending! i feel like compared to the rest of the movie, which felt very thought out and intentional and curated, the ending feels a little rushed! it's a little confusing too. the secondary character, phoenix, just holds the phantom while he's dying on the ground. but maybe 45 minutes prior, he took her to the roof of the paradise and she was like all freaked out and scared of him. i'm not sure if on that roof scene she didn't recognize him as the man that she fell in love with at the beginning of the movie? or if she felt remorse for being disgusted by his disfigured face? i'm not really sure... it's a confusing ending! i wish the ending was a little more planned and thought out like the rest of the movie. that is my only criticism!
but yeah, i really recommend this movie if you need something entertaining and silly to watch. the music is catchy, the story is entertaining, the characters are lovable. what more could you want from a movie?