the movie no one saw but everyone loves

October 31, 1974: the day Phantom Of The Paradise was introduced to the world as a cinematic oddity far beyond its time; it is a film that is indescribable to those who have never heard of it, and all spoilers are off the table because the experience must not be ruined ahead of screening time. once these novices see it, they either recoil in confusion, mock the tacky 70’s outfits, or attempt to dissect the plot and its themes regardless of whether or not they have a film studies background. it has a certain appeal that, despite its initial swandive (pun intended) at the box office, managed to rise from the ashes like the phoenix (also pun intended) and outlast many cult classic films that were released in the past 40 years. pretty remarkable, for a movie that hardly anyone saw yet everyone seems to enjoy.

Esquire Magazine (that’s right, ESQUIRE) has a piece on the Phantom’s legendary legacy, and what a story it is! Brian DePalma wrote the script 5 years before the film was released, inspired by the greed of the music industry. his protagonist was played by a college friend who towered over everyone on set, and his antagonist was a left-field choice known for composing such schmaltzy 70’s hits including “We’ve Only Just Begun.” it preceded Rocky Horror by a year, but it was still just as whacked out. yet Rocky attracted a devoted following from day one, while the Phantom struggled to find his audience. eventually, he did and his creator (DePalma) went on to build a lucrative career in Hollywood. sadly, the man behind the silver owl-like mask (William Finley) passed away in 2012. but his music lingers on, 40 years and going strong!

(author’s note: i love this film, as if it weren’t obvious enough. it has maintained a special place in my life for so many years and will continue to do so for many more to come)


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