Wednesday, 4 July 2012


We were extremely honored that Chris Cooke agreed to provide us with a piece for our Phantom Of The Paradise program, its so good that we had to share it with you.
Chris is part of Mayhem who has been such an inspiration for us. 
Each Mayhem event feels very special and is an education in terror. They have curated some fantastic screenings in Nottingham and have that special talent of putting together some dream double bills. 
Nottingham are very lucky to have them. 

...and yes, our programs were Origami Swans.

Directed by Brian De Palma, 1974. Starring William Finley, Paul Williams, Jessica Harper and Gerrit Graham (as Beef).

He sold his soul... for Rock N' Roll.

His face destroyed in a vinyl record press, wronged composer Winslow Leach dons a mask and hides out behind the scenes at The Paradise Theatre, watching and waiting for the perfect time to take his revenge against evil record producer Swan. But as he methodically destroys one band after another he finds that his lovely muse, Phoenix, is starring in Swan's opus – using the music stolen from him... but if Leach wants success at any cost, then Swan wants nothing less than his soul.

The very definition of a cult movie, Phantom was a failure when released and built up a huge, loyal and loving fanbase that now sees the film rightly recognised as a mini-masterpiece, and if you've never seen it, you really can't afford to miss it now!

For more information visit The Swan Archives online at:

“Delirium...” Slant Magazine

“Highly inventive...” Time Out.

“Bizarre colors, vintage 70s-era rock and truly imaginative ideas... a thrill.” Combustible Celluloid.

“Outrageous... a visual triumph.” The Los Angeles Times.

Williams is probably best remembered for the brilliant score and songs to Bugsy Malone and his contributions to everything from The Muppets to Yo Gabba Gabba, but it's his work here that is well worth being reminded of.

His clever score allows him to pastiche a number of trends from rock to surf sounds, from folk to pop, all the while creating a cohesive opera of violence and mayhem. Here he creates whole bands, ranging from The Juicy Fruits, The Beach Bums and The Undeads... and of course wild solo-singer, Beef.

Phantom of the Paradise also allows him to demonstrate just what a great character actor he is in the role of the sinister Swan, creepy record producer and corrupter of all pure and innocent – but we shouldn't forget that he's also brilliant as Virgil, the scientist orangutan, in Battle for the Planet of the Apes and is great in Smokey and the Bandit, of course.

The film and William's music has had a more recent influence informing avowed fans Sebastian Tellier and Daft Punk.

Finley died earlier this year, and this screening of Phantom is a great way to celebrate a career of collaborations with his life long friend, Phantom director Brian De Palma.

The pair met at university and worked together over a series of films seeing Finley turn in increasingly bizarre and quirky performances, from a deranged doctor in love with Siamese twins in Sisters, a sweaty psychic in The Fury and a demented private dick in The Black Dahlia, De Palma's adaptation of the James Ellroy novel.

Finley also worked with Texas Chainsaw Massacre director Tobe Hooper on Funhouse as a very drunk fairground magician as well as playing Marilyn Burns' unhinged husband in Eaten Alive. But perhaps his most must-see cult performance outside of Phantom is as yet another loopy loser in the Chuck Norris starring martial-arts-slasher pic Silent Rage.

"RIP: Winslow Leach a.k.a. William Finley one of my favorite characters in one of my favorite movies." Bret Easton Ellis

Harper is given full rein to her incredible vocal talents here in Phantom and still performs the brilliant soundtrack today as the film has inspired convention screenings and retrospectives in the USA.

Her obvious interest in music is also evident in her performance as young dance student Suzy Banyon in Dario Argento's masterpiece Suspiria, the Hollywood remake of Pennies from Heaven  as well as the little remembered but very good Shock Treatment, a sequel to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, playing Janet herself!

Actor, comedian (and here singer), multi-talented character actor excels as the ridiculous and doomed Beef. His affection for the genre is evident in films ranging from Demon Seed to TerrorVision, the hilarious Chopping Mall, the cult sequel Chud 2: Bud The Chud and terrible post-Vietnam vigilante thriller The Annihilators.

His skills also extend to penning screenplays for Disney's The Little Mermaid and Oliver & Company and there aren't that many flamboyantly condemned characters called Beef who can lay claim to that.

Phantom is a genuine, quintessential cult classic from writer-director Brian De Palma and one that nearly lost him his fans.

Made before he thrilled everyone with now horror classics Carrie and Dressed To Kill and his move into big budget success with films like Scarface and The Untouchables, this bizarre rock-opera fusion of The Phantom of the Opera with the legend of Faust came after a series of explosive new wave features like Hi Mom! (starring then newcomer Robert De Niro) that marked De Palma out as a ground-breaking, left-field avant-garde film-maker.

But the real gripe of his radical fans was the score by Paul Williams. Everyone had expected a new film from their feted director to feature the music of a radical or cool underground band – not the composer of tracks for The Carpenters and Helen Reddy!

However on seeing the completed film they knew they needn't have worried – De Palma had fashioned a stunningly independent attack on the music industry itself, lampooning the scene as pompous and self important, interested only in money and not art.

The film is also a template for many of the techniques De Palma was developing for suspense – from split screens to sustained set-pieces De Palma's love of 'pure cinema' is at here at it's most evident. Plus of course, Phantom is genuinely enjoyable, thrilling and fun.

Sissy Spacek, star of Carrie, was a set-dresser on this film!
The film was nominated for Best Music Oscar!

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