Why there are not more gothic horror operas in cinema I don’t know. Perhaps it’s due to the few ones being released bombing or not being successful. Phamtom of the Paradise did poorly at the box office, which is a shame considering that it’s wondeful and entertaining. I loved the musical numbers and the film’s cast compliments the proceedings well. Jessica Harper is the standout, although Paul Williams’ wonderfully evil Swan and William Finley as the tragic Winslow/the Phantom also turn in fine performances. I also enjoyed seeing Gerrit Graham as Beef, a 70s style glam rocker who is funny and entertaining.
Brian De Palma has always utilized different influences, particularly Alfred Hitchcock, although here he channels Orson Welles more. Especially in a great split scene take that reminded me of the classic Touch of Evil. The musical numbers are the film’s strongest aspect, although the best song is saved for the end credits: “The Hell Of It,” a nasty ditty sung by Williams himself. Harper has an equally great number with “Special To Me”-the dance she performs at the end of it is rather amusing. Finley’s “Faust” is strangely beautiful as well; “Dream a bunch of friends,” one of its lyrics, is poetry.
De Palma manages to create what is possibly the best of the Phantom of the Opera adaptions. While this film is cheesy at times it’s engaging and fantastic, humorous and creepy. This is the kind of musical that I can endorse, and it is also one of his best films. An overabundance of style and a quality helping of exuberance is never a bad thing, and De Palma’s films always have those aspects in bunches. “Goodbye goodbye goodbye…”