Brian DePalma’s Phantom of the Paradise is one of the most endearingly awesome films of the ’70s. The Faustian fable riffing on the soul-rending temptations of success predates The Rocky Horror Picture Show by a year and should have become the same kind of midnight movie sensation. For more in-depth analysis, read our previous love letter from John Semley.
Though it unfortunately flopped at the box office, Phantom has been famously described as Daft Punk’s “foundation” (inspiring their work with Paul Williams on Random Access Memories). It might also come as a surprise that the film found its most devoted fanbase in Winnipeg, though the city’s appreciation of campy entertainment can be found in their cable access follies. After closing within weeks in most cities, Paradise ran for months in the ‘Peg and saw 20,000 local sales of its soundtrack.
Since 2005, Winnipeg’s Gloria Dignazio has hosted Phantompalooza events at home and in Los Angeles for a swelling group of fanatics. These gatherings have seen special guest appearances from the late William Finley (Winslow Leach/The Phantom), Gerritt Graham (Beef), Paul Williams (Swan) and other cast members. The 2015 screening on Friday, Oct. 30 at The Met theatre will include the second annual performance from tribute band Swanage along with Peter Elbling, frontman of The Undead for the film’s shredding standout “Somebody Super Like You.”
Maclean’s ran a piece on the Winnipeg Phantom phenomenon last summer (written by Semley again, ‘natch), which inspired a Toronto film crew to visit this year’s event and shoot a documentary. Life at last, salutations from the other side.