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Archive for November, 2013

phantom

Brian De Palma’s Phantom of the Paradise.

Last week, I tag-teamed a feature article with Hubert Vigilla on 12 films that should receive prestige re-releases from the Criterion Collection. The piece appeared in Pop Matters. You can read it in full here.

For this exercise, Hubert and I tried to select films that would tangibly benefit from a Criterion release. This wasn’t a simple (re: lazy) listing of films we like that aren’t in the collection. Instead, we sought to highlight films that are either hard to find or woefully under-appreciated. We stressed rare cult oddities, genres often ignored by Criterion (musicals, animated features), and films that deserve better than the bargain bin. I wrote the entries for Beau Travail, Possession, Phantom of the Paradise, True Stories, Begotten, and Turkish Delight. You’ll find my entry on Phantom of the Paradise below. Here‘s a second link to the Pop Matters piece for good measure.

Though it came first, Phantom of the Paradise has for decades lived in the shadow of that other ‘70s rock opera: The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Now, in 2013, Brian De Palma’s deranged horror-comic opus appears primed for its cultural moment. Earlier this year, the members of Daft Punk hailed Phantom of the Paradise as “the foundation for a lot of what we’re about artistically”. Just look at those masks. Daft Punk’s omnipresent new record even features Paul Williams, Phantom’s costar and the maestro behind its music. All this is to say: Criterion should ride those “Get Lucky” coattails with a re-release of this underseen acid trip of a musical. The company has already resurrected two De Palma films (Blow Out, Sisters), and Phantom’s current DVD is a minimal affair from 2001. Like Rocky Horror, Phantom makes for great group viewing. The film has inspired costumes, festivals, musical covers, and other cult marginalia. An entire community of fans exists around Phantom of the Paradise. That community deserves, at last, a definitive home release of its beloved film.

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