Phantom of the Paradise (1974)

This early effort by Brian De Palma has often been referred to as the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” before there was a “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” and it’s not hard to see why. The two movies have a lot in common: Both have a midnight-movie feel that didn’t exist before them, the characters are deliriously over-the-top, there’s a healthy mixture of horror, musical and broad comedy, and both wrap things up before they overstay their welcome. The musical numbers are terrific from beginning to end, thanks to an anything-goes 1970s vibe and an engaging blend of dreamy, borderline psychedelic inserts and glam rock posturing not unlike the likes of Jobriath. It’s certainly not for everyone, but thanks to its demented take on “Phantom of the Opera,” there’s a familiarity to the proceedings that makes the whole thing go down easy for open-minded audiences and fans of cult classics.

Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)

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