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Phantom of the Paradise

4.5 out of 5 stars 359 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Composer Winslow Leach (William Finley) is determined to seek revenge on Swan (Williams), an evil record tycoon who steals his pop cantana of the Faust legend to launch his enemy's palace as the mysterious Phantom of the Paradise and continues to plan his gruesome retaliation.


Describing Brian De Palma's Phantom of the Paradise as an update of the classic Phantom of the Opera doesn't do justice to this demented movie. While De Palma's Hitchcock homages have sometimes led him into dead ends, this rock & roll remake seems to have liberated De Palma's imagination, and the result is weird and funny, with the scruffy underground spirit of the director's early pictures. The Phantom is one Winslow Leach (William Finley), a nerdy songwriter whose "pop cantata" on the subject of Faust is stolen by a freakish, Phil Spector-like rock impresario called Swan (Paul Williams). After getting his head caught in a vinyl-LP compressor, Leach is transformed into a masked creature, haunting Swan's music palace, the Paradise. De Palma proves how nimbly he can establish narrative rhythm: the story moves like a cannon shot, and the musical numbers (especially in the Alice Cooper-like Paradise sequences) are brilliantly cut. The movie seems to predict the Studio 54 scene, MTV, and punk rock--the last, especially, in the figure of Beef, a screeching singer played by the unhinged Gerrit Graham. The songs were written by Paul Williams, that diminutive '70s music icon (he cowrote the Barbra Streisand wet noodle "Evergreen"), and his performance is a reminder of his peculiar, self-spoofing presence: at one point, the preening Swan announces, "You know how I abhor perfection in anyone but myself." Comedy, musical, horror film, '70s artifact--this movie isn't quite definable, and that's what's wonderful about it. --Robert Horton

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Paul Williams, William Finley, Jessica Harper, Gerrit Graham, George Memmoli
  • Directors: Brian De Palma
  • Writers: Brian De Palma
  • Producers: Bill Scott, Edward R. Pressman, Gustave M. Berne, Jeffrey L. Hayes, Lynn Pressman-Raymond
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: September 4, 2001
  • Run Time: 92 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (359 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005LIRB
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,140 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Phantom of the Paradise" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The movie synopsis:
In the 1974 film PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE, William Finley stars as Winslow Leach, a very talented composer who is working on a rock opera based on FAUST. Pop composer Paul Williams plays Swan, an aloof and mysterious record producer who has made the careers of many popular rock musicians. [For the youngsters reading this, a record is, like, an antique version of a music CD.] Swan has built the Paradise, a massive enclosed amphitheater that will be used to showcase the many bands and musicians under his auspices, but he wants to find new material and new talent for the extravagant gala he is planning for opening night. Enter Winslow--who wants Swan to consider his FAUST material for the Paradise grand-opening--and an attractive and talented young female singer named Phoenix (played by the cute Jessica Harper, here in her film debut). While waiting to audition for Swan, Winslow and Phoenix meet and...well, it's love at first sight. Unbeknownst to the two lovebirds, though, is their imminent appointment with destiny--and with the evil Swan. Swan indeed wants Winslow's music for the theater debut, but he wants to present it as his own work, and with knowledge of the feelings that the composer and singer have for each other, he uses Phoenix as leverage to manipulate Winslow like marionette.

So Swan steals Winslow's work, then arranges for Winslow to get arrested on a bogus drug-possession charge. In prison, Winslow learns of Swan's manipulation, which spurs him to escape and, soon after, to break into Swan's record factory and destroy the machines cranking out recordings of his stolen music. However, in a freak accident, Winslow's head gets caught in a hot record press and his face is thereby mutilated.
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The 1974 rock music film Phantom Of The Paradise is perhaps one of the most unusual and intriguing films i've ever come to know. This film was one of Brian DePalma's best films to date next to 1976's Carrie, 1983's masterwork Scarface and 1987's The Untouchables. The film is seen as somewhat as a rock and roll version of Phantom Of The Opera but it's a film about getting revenge on those who have hurt us. The hero in the film is nerdy and disgruntled composer Winslow Leach(played by William Finley) whose rock cantata about the magician 'Faust' whom was stolen by music impressario Swan. Swan had his own record label Death Records(originally Swan Song before Led Zeppelin coincidentally came up with the record label name and the producers changed the label to Death) and his own music channel(predated MTV by many years. Swan then proceeds and destroys Leach's life (steals the lovely Phoenix from Winslow, has him wrongfully framed, arrested, teeth pulled and had metal teeth in its place(predates the look that rappers and rockers like Marilyn Manson would adopt) and appearance). After being badly disfigured, Leach disguises himself as a phantom (whose Phantom outfit and make-up could easily have been the predecessor to the Goth Rock era of the 80's) wreaking havoc on the devilish (and that terms comes in quite handy here) and will stop at nothing to terrorize Swan. He tries arson (blowing up the set design during one of the 'Faust' rehearsals with a Beach Boys send-off The Beach Bums) and even murder (electrocuting over-the-top singer hard rock singer Beef mid-performance whose backing band look like what KISS would appear like a few months after this film was made. Also, the people at the door scene predicts the Studio 54 scene by a few years as does the partying/wedding scene at the end. The music in this film is great and the story proves that in the end, the nerds win over the arrogant types! Highly recommended!
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Format: DVD
Talk about a strange brew... a mixture of horror, comedy, rock music, unrequited love and fantasy. A songwriter's music is stollen by a promoter (Paul Williams) who has the writer thown in jail, beaten and almost killed. The songwriter returns as the "phantom" and haunts the rock palace of the promoter.
It's hard to recommend this movie to someone. If they like the music, they may hate the horror elements, or visa versa. But if you're a child of the seventies, this will probably appeal to you.
First off: the music is excellent. It was written by Paul Williams, who also sings some of the songs. It was nominated for an Academy Award (it is also available on CD).
Next: If you like Brian Depalma, with his split screens, mood lighting and quick cuts, it's all here.
Also: Jessica Harper, in her film debut as the love interest, is great, and she does her own singing. Gerrit Graham is absolutely hysterical as "Beef" the glam rock KISS wannabe.
A truely strange film that will appeal to the more adventurous, but if you like a happy ending, you'll have to look elsewhere.
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Format: DVD
Although often compared to Rocky Horror Picture Show, Brian DePalma's very strange Phantom of the Paradise is not in the same genre, if only because it works so hard to define its own quirky niche. It is, perhaps, DePalma's most original film, inasmuch as his usual penchant for homage (of everything from Rupert Julian's 1925 Phantom of the Opera, to 50's nostalgia group Sha Na Na, and even Welles' Touch of Evil) is tempered with heavy doses of righteous Liberal indignation.
Composer Winslow Leach (played by DePalma regular William Finley) is a dedicated but naive artist who is ruined by his entanglement with a record producer known only as Swan (the impish Paul Williams). Swan steals his music, his would-be girlfriend (Jessica Harper), and eventually, his soul, in the Faustian developments that follow.
As dated and ham-handed as some of the material is (the 70's era slang, the costumes, the anti-establishment rhetoric), Phantom is curiously redeemed by its earnestness. In spite of what you may have heard, this film is NOT camp; it is SATIRE - the major difference (in my estimation) being that camp is self-kidding; it knows of its outrageousness and wallows in it. Satire is nearly the opposite: it adopts an external perspective, dissecting human behavior from on-high - as aliens from another planet might regard us in all our wondrous absurdity.
I approached this DVD with some trepidation. Having only seen Phantom of the Paradise once as an eight year-old in its theatrical release, I was left with an indelible impression. I missed the satire and remembered only the horrific surface elements (the disfigured anti-hero with his creepy electronic voice, the Dorian Gray-like climax, etc). But how would I see it through adult eyes? Would it hold up?
The answer, in a word, is yes.
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