Phantom of the Paradise-attachment0

Phantom of the Paradise

Movie Information

The Thursday Horror Picture Show will screen Phantom of the Paradise on Thursday, Feb. 9, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge of The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther.
Genre: Rock 'n' Roll Horror
Director: Brian De Palma
Starring: Paul Williams, William Finley, Jessica Harper, Gerrit Graham, George Memmoli
Rated: PG

If anyone asks why Brian De Palma was once a name uttered in the same breath as Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola, all you need to do is show them his mid-1970s films, especially Phantom of the Paradise (1974) and Carrie (1976). These two films also offer the answer as to just why he ended up being taken a lot less seriously than the others. There was, in fact, a TV interview around the time of Carrie in which DePalma appeared with Scorsese, and the resulting interaction rendered perfectly believable the stories of Scorsese showing up on De Palma’s sets, crying out, “Someone stop this man!” De Palma fell into the category of the unruly little brother who was more interested in having fun with filmmaking than he was in being controlled or making any kind of a statement. Nothing about tackling “weighty” material seems to have appealed to him—unless it just sort of happened in the process. Yet there’s an undeniable energy about his work. There’s a love of making movies just for the sake of making them, and it makes his films—especially from this period—infectious in ways that often hold up better than some his comrades’ weightier propositions. Phantom of the Paradise is certainly one of those films. De Palma took everything that appealed to him about rock music, horror movies and the act of filmmaking, and combined it in this one cheeky movie that mixed Faust and The Phantom of the Opera into a nonstop explosion of pop-culture creativity. The result was a film as vital and fresh as anything that had come along up to that point. That it was all in fun and designed to be cartoonishly entertaining, however, worked against the film critically, and it wasn’t taken seriously. That’s more a flaw of the critical mindset than of De Palma’s style, as Phantom of the Paradise continues to demonstrate every time it’s screened.

For a more detailed take on the film, here’s my earlier review:


About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

2 thoughts on “Phantom of the Paradise

  1. davidf

    Does this win the prize for the first repeat showing at the Thursday Horror Picture Show? Seems like quite an honor.

  2. Ken Hanke

    Actually, Island of Lost Souls and Altered States were the first and second repeats. Those both had built-in excuses, though. The first was a much improved copy and the second was because our sound system had problems the first time and it was a way of sneaking another Ken Russell film in during the January Russellthon. This one there was no excuse for, except it was Justin’s birthday and he wanted to run it. That said, the fact that it was packed to capacity with people who didn’t see it the first time suggests to me that some repeats might not be a bad idea. That and the fact that we’re running low on the primo titles.

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