WITH CO-HOSTS OF THE 'WINDY CITY DOUBLE FEATURE PICTURE SHOW' PODCAST
Hello and welcome to the unofficial Brian De Palma website.
Here is the latest news:
a la Mod:
The music made us do it! This week, Peaches and Michael delve into the psychotronic, Faustian world of Brian De Palma’s 1974 rock opus, THE PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE! In addition to discussing the film’s killer soundtrack, unique style, and blurry queerness, our hosts take a deep dive into the singular fan phenomenon that caused PHANTOM to be a breakaway hit in the city of Winnipeg…and nowhere else. Joining the discussion is filmmaker Malcolm Ingram, whose documentary PHANTOM OF WINNIPEG explores this Canadian cult-status curiosity. Then, FANGORIA’s Editor-in-Chief Phil Nobile Jr. stops by to discuss the evolving nature of "phan" devotion. And finally, we’re joined by Ari Kahan, curator of THE SWAN ARCHIVES, which has been dedicated to the preservation of PHANTOM history since nearly the beginning. Rock n’roll! Deals with the devil! And a trio of in-depth interviews! Tune in and get salutations from the other side!
De Palma: It's very perceptive. I don't know if it's the first time I've made a film about things that matter to me, but it came from a very interesting idea, and I developed it into a whole scenario with characters that were full-blown. So it had a kind of emotional depth to it.
Fragoso: If she is right about making a film about the things that matter to you, I'm curious, what were those things?
De Palma: I'm obviously very interested in visual storytelling, and this lent itself to tell a story, a lot, with just pictures. And not relying on dialogue to explain everything. The whole idea of this film came from a couple of things. One was when I was cutting a soundtrack for footsteps -- I think it was for Murder a la Mod, there's a lot of footsteps in the graveyard -- I realized what we were using to separate the sounds, which is known as "fill," was Lawrence Of Arabia. Here, one of the greatest films of all time, is now "fill," in the footsteps of the mix I'm preparing for Murder a la Mod. So that irony stayed with me. And the other thing, which starts the whole film off, is when I was mixing Dressed To Kill, and I talked to my sound mixer. I said, "That effect of wind in the trees-- I've heard this!" I mean, I'd been working with the same sound guy for years, and I kept on hearing the same wind in the trees.
Fragoso: This is Dan Sable.
De Palma: Yeah, Dan Sable. And I said, "Dan, get me some new wind in the trees!" So that gave me the whole beginning of the movie, and this sort of ironic twist at the end. You know, the fact that the scream becomes just an effect to be used in a kind of tawdry horror film.
Legendary filmmaker Brian De Palma joins us this week! In celebrating the 40th anniversary of Blow Out, we discuss how the project came to be (4:17), the casting of John Travolta (7:49), a post-production mishap (8:48), and the film’s initial reception in 1981 (10:27). Growing up in ’40s Philadelphia, De Palma reflects on his complex childhood (11:06), his Quaker education (12:54), the moment he knew he wanted to direct (15:42), and the chaos of his early documentary work (20:44). Then, before we go, we revisit his masterpiece, Carlito’s Way (27:44), the end of “the director-as-superstar” era (33:16), and the enduring power of a childhood favorite, The Red Shoes (37:09).
One of the most interesting aspects of the episode is Skipper Martin's discussion of how he used to dismiss De Palma's nods to Hitchcock as nothing but a "ripoff," but how a re-watch of Dressed To Kill made it all click for him-- that De Palma was "playing" with the viewer, using what the viewer knows about Hitchcock to set the viewer up. And it made him rethink what Tarantino does, then, as well. Skipper possibly gets that idea from Roger Ebert, who says something similar in the Siskel/Ebert Untouchables-era discussion about Sisters they include in the episode.
As Disney grows bigger and acquires more properties, there are countless ways for the company to dominate the box office in any given year: a new Star Wars movie, another entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the latest tear-jerking Pixar project, even the long-awaited sequels to James Cameron’s Avatar. Such domination has come at the expense of projects that feel fresh and marginally original—these days, almost everything Mouse House churns out is a sequel, reboot, remake, or an extension of an established cinematic universe. (Even a studio as lauded as Pixar got a little too sequel-happy for its own good before Onward, Soul, and Luca.) But the box-office receipts speak for themselves, and as Disney doubles down on its strategy of maxing out its IP, the company is returning to an unsung resource: theme park rides.
Considering the studio is so risk-averse, it’s oddly amusing that theme park movie adaptations have repeatedly come out of the Disney pipeline—it’s a gambit that’s almost always failed. A middling made-for-TV adaptation of Tower of Terror got the ball rolling in 1997, but it wasn’t until the turn of the century that Mouse House started really swinging for the fences: If there’s one thing Mission to Mars (2000), The Country Bears (2002), and The Haunted Mansion (2003) have in common, it’s that their sheer WTF-ness was almost instantly met with quizzical responses. Mission to Mars is perhaps the most notable outlier and was directed by the great Brian De Palma (an auteur who’s as un-Disney as they come); it was based on a ride that was already closed and featured legitimately disturbing death scenes despite being rated PG. (This is also why Mission to Mars unironically rules, scathing reviews be damned.)
The latest in the Disney theme park movie canon, Jungle Cruise, arrives on Friday, and it’s probably not the most encouraging sign that some insiders are already bracing for a less-than-stellar financial return. But Jungle Cruise isn’t so much trying to capture the spirit of the eponymous Disney ride—given that it was recently revamped because of racist caricatures, that’s for the best—as it is trying to ape the multibillion-dollar success story of theme park ride moviemaking: the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
When the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, The Curse of the Black Pearl, was released in 2003, the whole idea of turning an amusement park ride into a blockbuster was ridiculous—especially given Disney’s previous failures in the space. But The Curse of the Black Pearl was a legitimate hit and a swashbuckling adventure so universally admired that Johnny Depp even landed an Oscar nomination. (When you think of performances that get on the Oscars’ radar, Captain Jack Sparrow hardly comes to mind.) The Curse of the Black Pearl was the fourth-highest-grossing movie of the year, and a sequel was inevitable.
Director Gore Verbinski ended up shooting back-to-back sequels, Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End, to complete a trilogy that broadened the franchise’s fantastical pirate universe—one where, to paraphrase Captain Barbossa, the audience best start believin’ in ghost stories.