Thursday, May 3, 2012

Things I Love Thursday: The Phantom of the Paradise

I think I kinda started a trend with myself a couple weeks ago with my Things I Love Thursday Special Edition entry for Sleep No More, which a lot of people seemed to enjoy (myself included). So I'm gonna talk about something else I love at length this go-around, being my 2nd favorite movie in the whole wide world, The Phantom of the Paradise!

With added reason for this 'TILT' entry, being that the Phantom himself, actor William Finley sadly passed away a few weeks ago, which inspired me to draw a portrait of the titular tragic hero he portrayed.

"My music is for Phoenix. Only she can sing it. Anyone else who tries, dies."

If you've never heard of it, it's Brian De Palma's 1974 Satanic/psychedelic rock opera based on a combination of Phantom of the Opera, Faust and The Picture of Dorian Grey. A scathing satire of the music industry, it's the first of DePalma's movies to use the split-screen method he would use again during the infamous pigs blood scene in Carrie. The entire movie also features an amazing original soundtrack by legendary singer/songwriter Paul Williams (who wrote The Rainbow Connection... so yeah...) who also plays the movie's villain, the nefarious record producer Swan. The late William Finley plays Winslow Leach, an ill-fated singer/songwriter who amazingly terrible circumstances becomes the Phantom and terrorizes Swan's music palace The Paradise. I always love movies about talented musicians (or artists) that are just starting out that get swooped up into the cutthroat world of recording/business, then screwed over only to exact their sweet revenge. Or something to that effect. Mostly I just love movies about the music biz and the crazy egos involved, especially with 70s-80s rock.

Here's the schlocky, grindhouse-esque trailer!

Though Phantom, like all my favorite movies, is a bit of an acquired taste and not for everyone (my parents turned it off before Swan's big reveal), if you're a fan of crazy cult movies I highly suggest checking it out. I first saw Phantom in high school and then subsequently went on to buy it on VHS, then DVD and have been slowly collecting the few various bits of merch that they have had available.  I own a replica of the Phantom helmet that I sat on a waiting list for 3 years to be able to purchase. Even though I no longer cosplay, I reserve a very strong desire to construct a femme version of the Phantom's costume for a *dream* photoshoot. Ugh, those would be the coolest publicity shots ever. What a way to truly capture my nerdy insanity. Haha... One day... I also have the ultra-rare Medicom Real Action Heroes figure of the Phantom as well, which I purchased 5 years ago ago at Toy Tokyo in NYC when I first moved here for $150, which compared to current eBay listings is a steal. My husband also drew me Phantom fanart for my first birthday we spent together as a couple.

My coworker made a quick little video of me when 
I *finally* got the helmet in the mail at work.

What I love about the music in Phantom is how the same songs are played over and over in different genres and by different musicians and it all sounds awesome. They really push that idea in the movie, about the importance of the music, not necessarily who sings/performs it. I really wish there was a full version of the random country guy singing 'Faust' and Beef's over-the-top version of 'Old Souls'. Also, Beef is AMAZING. Though he's only onscreen for the second act, everything he says/does is comedy gold. He's usually everyone's favorite, he's such a great character.

By my husband, Ballsy
See more of his work here!

There's been heresay that the Phantom's costume inspired the look of Darth Vader, what with the gnarly yet awesome voicebox and imposing black leather getup. No word whether this is true, but it's an interesting connection. Phantom is actually the favorite movie of one of my most favorite directors, being Edgar Wright of Shawn of the Dead/Scott Pilgrim fame, which is super cool and makes me love his work even more. Edgar Wright has a very touching tribute to William Finley on his blog, that you can see here. The parallels of Swan to Scott Pilgrim's Gideon Graves are such a sweet Phantom phanservice (see what I did there?) that I couldn't help but nerd out when I saw it. There was also talk of them remaking it back in the day (about 10-12 years ago) with Marilyn Manson as The Phantom, but that fell through. While I think this movie is perfect the way it is- such a product of it's time, I gotta admit seeing Manson dressed as the Phantom during his Mechanical Animals heyday would be kinda awesome. Though I'd hate to see a remake, it'd have been pretty sweet if they had done an homage to it for a video or something. Manson has the perfect face to go under the Phantom helmet. 

If you haven't seen Phantom yet I hope you give it a chance. It's a strange yet beautiful gem of a movie full of great music, iconic characters and some hilarious scenes.


  1. You've seen "Mondo Collecto", yes? There's an interview with a PotP collector who has amassed a pretty impressive amount of items. An interesting guy. :)

    1. Noooo I haven't! I'll have to check that out!!!

  2. I love your post (and your husband's and your art is amazing) but I feel the need to point out De Palma did use split screens in SISTERS, 1973, during the crime clean-up scene. If you haven't seen that (though you probably have) I highly recommend it as well. De Palma's flair is always amazing and I would watch William Finley in anything. PHANTOM is my phavourite philm (two can play at that game).

    "Thursday! Today is Thursday."


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