Sunday, November 02, 2008

Fun movie nights in little Transylvania with the Phantom of the Paradise

Ah, Faustus,
Now hast thou but one bare hour to live,
And then thou must be damned perpetually!
Stand still, you ever-moving spheres of heaven,
That time may cease and midnight never come!
Fair Nature’s eye, rise, rise again and make
Perpetual day; or let this hour be but
A year, a month, a week, a natural day,
That Faustus may repent and save his soul!

In my oddly successful career as an actor (I made a whole $200) I practised this line out of Marlowe's Dr. Faustus
till I got the full timbre and fright evoked in Marlowe's lines. Damn! Those Elizabethans were good.

Take note, you horror and fantasy writers out there. De Debbil makes the best play or novel,

So how many takes have there been on the Faust legend--a hundred?--And when Faust becomes Armand Moncharmin, the manager of the Opera, he is the perfect Beelzebub, the devil who will demand your soul--in blood--before you attain immortality. Fascinating, oddly timeless plot.

And when you combine Faust with an early 20th century chiller like Phantom of the Opera, you make bucks on the stage, big bucks as any peek at receipts of Broadway's Phantom of the Opera are any indication.

But there was an earlier work largely unnoticed --or savaged by the critics-- Titled "Phantom of the Paradise (or Fillmore, the 1970's the rock place?) which was the seminal work for movies of that type. (I shudder to use the term seminal since Phantom of the Paradise one day became the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and it was a great hit on the midnight TV channels, and as a film.It featured, in part, characters from the planet Transvesitia.

But from little acorns, tall oaks grow, if you consider Rocky Horror as a tall poppy.

It was Paul Williams' Phantom of the Paradise that broke the ground for the Rocky Horror tour de force.

Panned by critics and everbody in the film unfarily criticized, It took Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada to recognize Williams' genius as an actor and director, and I suppose, for an audience about four generations removed from Transylvania (Ukkraine is just next door, to Transylvania) the Ukies bought it. It remained on local screens for eight years.

Phantom of the Paradise remains a cult classic and it is aired on public television just about every Halloween.

Moral of this story?

You can write a genius work, partially based on the Faust legend, you can sell your soul to the devil and fail all the same.

But there are vultures circling about overhead, not so much to eat your liver, like that of Prometheus, but to steal your play. One year later, out came the cult hit, Rocky Horror Picture show.

Paul Williams produced a masterpiece, was unfairly called no good for this--and then everybody copied him and made a fortune. Only Winnipeg was in there pitching for him, and of that I am proud. Phantom of the Paradise, though released in l974, was a masterpiece that is still today played over and over again by the buffs of that kind of film.



Charles Gramlich said...

I saw that Phantom of the paradise was on TV the other night but came in too late and ended up not watching it. I do want to see it at some point. said...

Have a look when it comes up again, Charles.

I don't write tragicomic horror, but I must say the movie inspired me. Quite a bit.

Lana Gramlich said...

It often seems there's little or no rhyme or reason to such things.

Middle Ditch said...

I have never heard of that one Ivan, but how horrible that it was taken like that and re-named.

Good post. I learned something again.

How are you anyway?

ea monroe said...

Was it Alfred Hitchcock who said there was comedy in horror? ~Liz

benjibopper said...

interesting history there. i can't help but be reminded of that episode of Drew Carey when the mob of fans of the Rocky Horror Picture Show take on a younger generation mob of fans of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Now that was episode was a work of genius. said...


No rhyme or reason. Apparently whoever wrote The Life of Pi stole it from some Jewish guy in the U.K. named Sklar.

The author of the original work was gracious enough to say, "Whatever furthers the work, furthers the work. I will not sue."

I would have been furious. said...


Rocky Horror was changed slightly to have some travellers in a broken down car come upon the baroque theatre, but the plot is basically the same.

BTW, I think I sent you the standing Abelard Books advertisement (U.K.) for my novel, The Fire in Bradford.

Prokopchuk, Ivan
ISBN 10: 0969182945
ISBN 13: 9780969182948
Publisher: Island Grove Press
Publication Date: 1997
Binding: Hardcover

I have written to them, as I had no idea they were distributing me, but no answer so far.

Cheers. said...

The Aussies seem to exceed in everything, even a still one more offering of a motor crosss like Priscilla.

Lemme see if I can goose the old memory font. Ah here.

This offbeat Australian road movie about a busload of female impersonators became a surprise hit in the US, heralding a wave of cinematic interest in cross-dressing that would embrace everything from WIGSTOCK, a documentary about New York's much-loved open air drag festival, to the star-studded mainstream production...

Ah well. Boys will be girls. And make money at it! said...


Spoofing a spoof is great fun, and yes, Drew Carey is a genius.

Why does he waste his huge talent on the giveaway shows?...I also miss Ryan and Colin--what a threesome! said...


Hithcock was known for something of a character besides genius.

Can you imagine a Roman Catholic
doing Psycho or some dialogue with the devil?

I didn't know he was a devout Mick.

Jo said...

Anne Rice, who wrote all those wonderful vampire novels, has become a born-again Christian, at the age of 68. Trying to ward off devils, perhaps?

Donnetta Lee said...

Ivan: I have never heard of this before now. Very interesting. I REALLY need to see this. Will start hunting it out. Sounds like it is right up my alley. And I do so love Faust. D said...

I didn't know that, Jo.
Huh. said...


I can see why you're interested, as an English major.

Here's from Wiki:

Phantom of the Paradise (also known as The Phantom of the Filmore) is a 1974 horror-thriller musical film written and directed by Brian De Palma. The story is a loosely adapted mixture of Phantom of the Opera, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Picture of Dorian Gray and Faust. The film was marketed with the tagline "He sold his soul for rock n'roll", and then with "He's been maimed and framed, beaten, robbed and mutilated. But they still can't keep him from the woman he loves." Initially a box office failure and panned by some critics, it has since gained a cult following

Once you find it, you won't be desappointed.

I especially like the role of Phoenix, the girl singer, who also sold her soul to rock and roll. A young Jessica Harper (or Christina Dae?) played the role...But oddly critics still hate Phoenix as a character, thirty-four years later!

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