Phantom of the Paradise

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Phantom of the Paradise
October 1974 Rocky Horror Show program from the Roxy with Phantom of the Paradise advert. The film opened on October 31, though the ad says November 1.
UK Quad Poster announcing the double feature
May 1978 Rocky Horror at the Fox Venice in West Los Angeles, with Phantom followed by live Oingo Boingo concert

Phantom of the Paradise is a film that was released by 20th Century Fox in October of 1974. Written and directed by Brian DePalma, Phantom of the Paradise shares a common history with The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Both are rock-musical parodies of a familiar mix of horror films, both have outstanding soundtrack albums and both have a very devoted following.

Like Rocky Horror, Phantom of the Paradise had a special premiere opening in Westwood Village, which included a Halloween costume contest. The film was even advertised on the back page of The Rocky Horror Show program at the Roxy Theatre. As with Rocky Horror, Phantom was a commercial disappointment, though it developed a respectable cult following fairly quickly, as well as garnering an Oscar nomination for its fantastic Paul Williams score (which it sadly lost to the the less-memorable score from The Great Gatsby). The score was nominated for a Golden Globe as well.

The female lead of the film was Jessica Harper, who later played Janet Majors in Shock Treatment.

In its initial L.A. run, Phantom actually grossed higher receipts in the weeks following its opening week, indicating the power of word of mouth (since promotion and media acclaim was almost non existent) setting a precedent for Rocky Horror's handling by Fox the following year. Once going wide, Winnipeg, Canada, was the most receptive Phantom market, where the film surprisingly played for eighteen weeks, uninterrupted. It also did well in France.

With pockets of small success, Phantom was given a revamped ad campaign, and reissued in mid 1975. It was resuscitated via a run on pay cable channels not long after.

In Los Angeles, Rocky Horror had moved from Westwood to the Holly Theater on Hollywood Boulevard in March of 1976, where it ran 5 times a day until October 5th. On October 6th, Fox began to pair Rocky and Phantom, and reissued them citywide in Southern California in addition to rolling out screenings across the country and in the U.K. in revival theaters and in college cinemas. In L.A., the reissue was to several first-run theaters and drive-ins, including the famed Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Blvd. Rocky Horror, sans Phantom, also returned to the UA Cinema Center in Westwood, where it remained almost continuously until 1983.

The pairing became a regular revival-house double-bill which lasted for the duration of the early RHPS cult, slowly separating as Rocky Horror evolved into an exclusively midnight movie over the next couple of years. For early enthusiasts, it was not unusual to attend the 7 PM screening of Rocky Horror, sit through Phantom at 9 PM and stay for the rowdier 11 PM Rocky re-run. The Rocky Horror Picture Show became huge and widespread, though Phantom of the Paradise remained more of a standard cult film, with a quieter, but equally devoted following.

Plot Summary

Swan. He has no other name. His past is a mystery, but his work is already a legend. He wrote and produced his first gold record at 14. In the years since then, he has won so many others that he once tried to deposit them in Fort Knox. He brought the Blues to Britain. He brought Liverpool to America. He brought Folk and Rock together. His band, the Juicy Fruits, single-handedly gave birth to the nostalgia wave of the 70s. Now he is looking for the new sound of the spheres, to inaugurate his own Xanadu, his own Disneyland: the Paradise, the ultimate rock palace. This film is the story of that search, of that sound, of the man who made it, the girl who sang it... and the monster who stole it.


Paul Williams - Swan
Jessica Harper - Phoenix
William Finley - Winslow Leach / The Phantom
Gerrit Graham - Beef
George Memmoli - Philbin
Archie Hahn - The Juicy Fruits / The Beach Bums / The Undead
Jeffrey Comanor - The Juicy Fruits / The Beach Bums / The Undead
Peter Elbling - The Juicy Fruits / The Beach Bums / The Undead (as Harold Oblong)

Musical Numbers

"Goodbye Eddie, Goodbye" – The Juicy Fruits
"Faust" – Winslow
"Never Thought I'd Get to Meet the Devil" – Winslow
"Faust" (1st Reprise) – Winslow, Phoenix
"Upholstery" – The Beach Bums
"Special to Me (Phoenix Audition Song)" – Phoenix
"Faust" (2nd Reprise) – The Phantom
"The Phantom's Theme (Beauty and the Beast)" – The Phantom
"Somebody Super Like You (Beef Construction Song)" – The Undead
"Life at Last" – Beef
"Old Souls" – Phoenix
"Faust" - Swan
"The Hell of It" – Swan

All music and lyrics composed and written by Paul Williams

External Links

Phantom of the Paradise at IMDb [1]
The Swan Archives: Phantom of the Paradise [2]