Scream Factory’s new release of the 1974 Brian De Palma horror/musical PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE has fans grinning wide, and rightfully so. It’s clear as water how important Scream Factory felt this one was, and all stops have been pulled out, giving fans of the insane musical one hell of a release. Not only does the film look better than it ever has, but special features junkies (like myself) are given enough supplemental docs to last a viewer days.
Telling the story of Winslow Leach (William Finley), a genius songwriter who is played and left for dead by one devious villian, a Dorian Gray-like music producer named Swan (Paul Williams). Swan steals Winslow’s music, recycling it through various incarnations by different era rock bands, all while Winslow’s life takes continually tragic turns, with his face getting destroyed, his teeth pulled, and wrongfully imprisoned. When Winslow is able to break free from prison, and after a freak accident, he dons a dark and beautiful costume, becoming the “Phantom”, and getting into a deal with Swan, a deal and contract bound in blood. One can’t die, without killing the other.
It’s an excellently directed film, full of classic De Palma shots, great set pieces and some entertaining music, written by actor/songwriter Paul Williams. I’ve always picked on my wife, saying that there are two types of people in this world: PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE people and ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW people. I’ve been a rabid fan of the former, absolutely loving everything from the music, costume design, and one great performance by SUSPIRIA‘s Jessica Harper as Phoenix, a young singer who the Phantom sees as being the only person able to sing his music the way it was intended to be performed. The film has countless sequences, characters who are larger than life in the very best of ways (Beef!), and keeps you wanting more, long after it’s done. While most film fans point to films such as CARRIE, THE UNTOUCHABLES and SCARFACE as classic De Palma, I’ve always stood by the opinion that PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE and BLOW OUT are his absolute best films.
Whether you’re a De Palma fan, a PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE fan, or just a fan of really great films in general, the Bluray is worth picking up just for the film, not even counting the overwhelming amount of special features that come with Scream Factory’s wonderful release.
It would take quite a while to go very in depth into every single special feature, because there are a LOT, so I’ll list them all, but only go into detail with the ones that stand out even more so than the others.
- NEW Commentary with Jessica Harper, Gerrit Graham, Archie Hahn, Peter Elbling and Jeffrey Comanor
- NEW in depth interview w/Brian De Palma- an almost 50 minute interview, full of trivia and stories from De Palma, some of which will blow even the biggest PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE fan away.
- NEW interview w/Paul Williams- another really lengthy interview, full of anecdotes told by Paul Williams. One of which being how much PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE still continues to open doors, and how the members of Daft Punk met at a PHANTOM screening years before, causing them to getting together.
- NEW interview w/Makeup Fx artist Tom Burman
- NEW interviews w/Producer Edward Pressman, drummer Gary Mallaber
- “Paradise Regained: the making of PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE“- An in depth making of documentary, carried over from an over seas release, full of interviews and stories from all who were involved in the film, which is great, especially seeing William Finley speaking about his involvement, since he has since passed away.
- Interview w/Paul Williams, moderated by Guillermo Del Toro- a GREAT sit down discussion between Williams and filmmaker Del Toro. It’s obvious that there is a great appreciation between both men, a really good conversation.
- Interview w/Costume designer Rosanna Norton
..as well as the standard deleted scenes, trailers and the like.
It should be up for release of the year, because I honestly don’t remember a single collector’s edition film that has been released thus far, that has given fans of the film enough supplemental docs and with a transfer as beautiful looking as PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE. Every fan should rush out and pick this one up, it’s pretty phenomonal.