Friday, May 18, 2007

Pulling a Faust one


Roll on thunder, shine on lightning
The days are long and the nights are frightenin'
Nothing matters anyway,
And that's the hell of it.
Winter comes and the winds blew colder
While some grew wiser, you just grew older
And you never listened anyway,
And that's the hell of it.
--Paul Williams, Hell of It, Phantom of the Paradise

I don't want this to be construed as taking requests. But in the vein of JC Superstar, it seemed only fair to give the devil his due and dwelve into the dark lord's realm as well (at least when it comes to 70s musicals)

The Phantom of the Paradise was the only musical I could think of coming out of the early 1970s that centered on satan. It was written and directed by Brian De Palma and starred Paul Williams who also wrote much of the music for the film. Paul Williams would later degrade himself in such classics as Smoky and the Bandit I, II and III.

The plot of Phantom of the Paradise is kind of Phantom of the Opera meets Faust with a little Hunchback of Notre Dame and Dorian Gray thrown in for good measure.

Williams plays Swan, a record producer who owns "Death Records" (get it). He steals a rock version of "Faust" from composer Winslow Leach who goes beserk and is hideously disfigured by a record press when trying to confront Swan. He ends up terrorizing a production of his rock cantata at the Paradise Theater but eventually signs a contract (in blood) with Swan, but only on the condition that a woman he falls in love with, Pheonix, gets the lead.

Long story short, the Phantom dies for his love interest but not until he exposes Swan for the monster he is. The devil never actually makes an appearance in the movie, but it is all his handywork.

As with JC Superstar, I listened to the soundtrack to this album over and over and pretty much memorized the lyrics as well. There's lots of stuff about selling your soul and the supernatural (see the lyrics to "Hell of it" above). There's even one scene where a transvestite diva named Beef sings "Life at Last." He inexplicably playing the role of the Frankenstein monster in Faust. My favorite line is:

I'm the evil that you created gettin' horny and damned frustrated
Bored stiff and I want me a woman now

You can't get lyrics much better than that.

Although I liked the Beef character, if they ever made a stage version of Phantom of the Paradise, I'd probably try out for the Phantom character, instead. One, I don't look good in high heels and nylons (which rules out me every starring in Rocky Horror either). But really relate to the Phantom character the most. I always felt ugly growing up and had crushes on girls from afar. Thus I'm a sucker for unrequited love stories. I also think the Phantom's songs in the movie have the greatest range and depth (though ironically most of them are voiceovers by Paul Williams). So I'd really like to be the Phantom.

Plus I'd get to wear a mask.

So that's all I have to say about that, too.

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