Phantom of the Paradise (1974)
Brian De Palma
92min., United States
“He sold his soul for rock and roll”
The evil record tycoon Swan (Paul Williams) has sold his soul to the devil in exchange for eternal youth and success. His scheme for success is to steal the music of the songwriter Winslow Leach (William Finley) to celebrate the opening of his rock palace, The Paradise. While trying to stop Swan, Leach is framed for drug dealing and becomes a victim of an accident which leaves him disfigured. Leach decides to hide out in The Paradise, but he is hiding his face beneath an eerie mask and planning a gruesome punishment upon Swan. However, Leach signs a contract with Swan to complete his rock opera based on the legend of Faust for an aspiring singer – Phoenix (Jessica Harper) which Leach hopes to save from the terrible fate that awaits her…
The idea for Phantom of the Paradise had been nurtured by Brian De Palma since 1969 when he saw how rock acts like the Rolling Stones & Alice Cooper were incorporating the genre of horror in their acts. De Palma realized that rock music was the most important new aesthetic form present within this generation and that it could be used in a new way in films. Phantom of the Paradise is the screen’s first horror-rock musical comedy.
Regardless of the film being a box office failure and negatively reviewed, it earned much praise for its music, receiving an Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations. Over the years, the film has received more positive reviews which has resulted in it becoming a cult film.