We all know Brian de Palma as a stylized, excessive filmmaker who likes to borrow and rehash left and right - just think of Blow Out (the sound engineer's Blow Up), Obsession (father/daughter Vertigo) or um...Scarface.
If you thought his love of pastiche, collage and general eccentricity were showcased in these films, Phantom of Paradise takes all of his quirks and mannerisms to the next level.
Released one year before Rocky Horror, Phantom of Paradise is a mesmerizing shape-shifting rollercoaster of music styles, cinema tropes and emotion.
Probably the best way to describe it would be as a melodrama-horror-thriller-comedy-musical.
Blending both musical and literary myths from Faust and the Picture of Dorian Gray to the obvious Phantom of the Opera, this explosive blend is a highly entertaining (and disturbing) commentary on the music industry and the obsession of fame and youth in general, spiced up with epic glam rock numbers and insane costume/production design.
I mean Winslow aka The Phantom goes from uber-geek to what basically looks like a black leather straight jacket (ok, we would call it a bondage leather jumpsuit today) complete with black lipstick and Eyes Wide Shut-worthy silver bird mask. To me this completely explains Marilyn Manson- you can not not see the connection here!
Jessica Harper (you may remember her from Stardust Memories) playing Phoenix the corrupt innocent singer pretty much rocks the 70s boho look that's making a comeback right now- kimonos, long long dresses and probably one of the best use of sequins in evening wear.
The music changes from rock'n'roll revivals to folk, hair metal and simply grandiose 70s rock operas. ''From grease to glitter. And beyond".
Just check out the trailer.
Pretty much neglected at the time of its original release in 1974, the film has been recently rediscovered and even restored and re-released in a few lucky places. Go see it in theaters if you get the chance!