I can’t stop recommending this early Brian De Palma rock musical masterpiece enough to anyone who’ll still listen. It’s one of those only-in-the-’70s kinds of films, cheapest one which is so indefinable (or difficult to explain) that the only category it can fit into is purely itself. editorial review Robert Horton sez:

Describing Brian De Palma’s “Phantom of the Paradise” as an update of the classic “Phantom of the Opera” doesn’t do justice to this demented movie. While De Palma’s Hitchcock homages have sometimes led him into dead ends, this rock & roll remake seems to have liberated De Palma’s imagination, and the result is weird and funny, with the scruffy underground spirit of the director’s early pictures.

The Phantom is one Winslow Leach (William Finley), a nerdy songwriter whose “pop cantata” on the subject of Faust is stolen by a freakish, Phil Spector-like rock impresario called Swan (Paul Williams). After getting his head caught in a vinyl-LP compressor, Leach is transformed into a masked creature, haunting Swan’s music palace, the Paradise.

De Palma proves how nimbly he can establish narrative rhythm: the story moves like a cannon shot, and the musical numbers (especially in the Alice Cooper-like Paradise sequences) are brilliantly cut. The movie seems to predict the Studio 54 scene, MTV, and punk rock–the last, especially, in the figure of Beef, a screeching singer played by the unhinged Gerrit Graham. The songs were written by Paul Williams, that diminutive ’70s music icon (he cowrote the Barbra Streisand wet noodle “Evergreen”), and his performance is a reminder of his peculiar, self-spoofing presence: at one point, the preening Swan announces, “You know how I abhor perfection in anyone but myself.” Comedy, musical, horror film, ’70s artifact–this movie isn’t quite definable, and that’s what’s wonderful about it.

If you’ve ever found yourself humming a tune from “The Muppet Movie” or “Bugsy Malone” (two other films that Paul Williams has scored as well), then you’ll know exactly what to expect from this soundtrack. It’s irreverent, bubbly, silly, sharp and altogether brilliant.

Various Artists – “Phantom of the Paradise” soundtrack (ZIP file)

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  1. Jim Donato says:

    When I finally saw this movie the incredible Gerrit Graham as Beef reminded me of none other than Erasure’s Andy Bell. Coincidentally, Bell was working in a meat packing plant when he spied the ad for a singer that Vince Clarke placed in the Melody Maker musicians wanted classifieds. At least according to Wikipedia (whatever that’s worth).

  2. Plague says:

    Effin’ great movie. Effin’ great soundtrack.
    I remember buying a DEATH RECORDS shirt a lifetime ago when this movie came out…

  3. michael says:

    discovered this film when I moved to France, every bit a good as The Rocky H. Pic Show, though at the time, late 1980′s criminally ignored in the UK. GREAT FILM

  4. mike says:

    A wonderful film. Set designs by Sissy Spacek.

  5. thesecretlivesofcats says:

    I concur. I’d been holding off, and then I saw it two years ago. Fucking fantastic. Paul Williams is an underrated talent.

  6. Yo, Yo, Yo says:

    Just wanted to note that EggCityRadio is being too modest in their blurb here. This download isn’t the soundtrack album; rather, it’s the soundtrack album plus lots of cool stuff that’s not available on CD or vinyl. Download, download, download! (And thanks, ECR!)

  7. Diego says:

    i have a japanese CD of this soundtrack.
    love those songs and the movie as well.
    great pick.

  8. Diego says:

    Yo, Yo, Yo is damn right!
    it´s the soundtrack + loads more!
    THANK YOU!!!

  9. filmgoerjuan says:

    I got to see this (for the first time) a few years ago at a double bill with The Muppet Movie and with Paul Williams in attendance. The print was pristine (having been loaned from the studio’s archives) and it was a great experience. Bought the album and it’s in regular rotation on my iPod.

    I only wish that North America would get a proper DVD issue of the film with commentary and bonuses!

  10. Robert1014 says:

    I saw this movie when it was first released and I had to see it again within days! I was 18 and it blew my mind and I have seen it many times since. (At the time, the younger brother of my oldest friend took to calling me “Winslow,” as I guess he thought I sort of looked like the erstwhile Phantom. Years later, after moving to NYC, I saw Mr. Finley browsing at the lamented Coliseum Books on 57th Street.)

    Paul Williams’ music for this is haunting, beautiful, and brilliant. Thank you.

  11. @Mike: “A wonderful film. Set designs by Sissy Spacek.”

    A wonderful film, yes, but Ms. Spacek was the set dresser, not designer; the production design, including sets, was done by her husband, Jack Fisk. You can read more than you’d ever want to know about this film at my Swan Archives site:

  12. Julian says:

    Thank you so very much for this gem. Any thoughts on the aformentioned
    Bugsy Malone? That film along with the Muppet movie shook me to my childhood core. I still yearn for a banana cream pie machine gun.

  13. Those who have mentioned that this contains more than the original soundtrack album are exactly right. This is a bootleg of a bootleg. It is in fact this:

    The material that Roger put on this that’s in addition to the original soundtrack stuff appears to have been pulled mostly off a laserdisc edition of the film.

  14. marie lauterbach says:

    We did not know that this wonderful film had finally started getting its due, My husband gave me the blu ray French version for mothers day this week-end and when we watched with much older eyes we noticed so many things and truths that we were blown away by the movies “advanced” themes.
    Anyway to get to the point, My husband and I were greatly affected by the movie here is our story:

    In the summer of 1976 in Anaheim California my friend Debbie and I went to the local theater “The Brookhurst” to see The Phantom.
    Being just all of 15 at the time we feel in love with this love story and we cried (of course) and like many teens do we saw this movie over and over again throughout the summer of “76″.

    I feel in love with poor “Winslow” my friend fell in love with “Swan”.

    Now this is where it gets interesting.

    We were back at the theater/strip mall again when her and I spotted a young man with an older woman (his mother) coming out of the optical shop next to the theater.

    My friend and I both said “Oh my God, he looks just like Winslow” and he did! She dared me to go up and give him my phone number which I did in front of his real Irish (catholic) mother!
    My future husband was getting contacts for the first time so he didn’t have to wear his “Winslow” glasses anymore.

    He really did look like Winslow when he was young, he was 17 yrs old. And he had the same soft voice and was “nerdy”

    We dated on/off for a year then went our separate ways, But at the ages of 42 and 44 we met again on Classmates and a year later we were married, it has been six years now. And Phoenix got her Winslow.

  15. David says:

    Thank you.
    Took me right back!

    (btw, my Captcha was “depalma”)

  16. Teh Phantom says:

    Captcha was ‘meatboat’ so I had to post.

    I saw Paul Williams on the Merv Griffin show in ’75 or thereabouts promoting the film, and between his smart ass ironic attitude and the clip they showed, I was sold. But I was on Guam at the time so there was no way… On my return to the ‘real world’ in ’76 I got a chance to see it at a drive-in. It exceeded expectations in every way.

    I downloaded a low quality copy a couple of years ago (low resolution, un-removeable French subtitles, probably recorded from Canadian TV). Since then I have shown it to a dozen or so people and they all loved it. Imagine my reaction when I found it on DVD at the local library a couple of weeks ago – yow!!

    That #%&@! thing had four distinct layers of “copy protection” on it. I suppose I should have given up and gone looking for a copy on Amazon or somewhere, but all that sabotage pissed me off. “Anything you can play you can copy” is a law of nature (information theory), so a full day and quite a bit of learning about video file formats later, success. This copy will probably appear on the torrent networks sooner or later.