TO PUT A STAMP ON THE INTRO TO TONIGHT'S SEASON FINALE
Hello and welcome to the unofficial Brian De Palma website.
Here is the latest news:
a la Mod:
A poster for Brian De Palma's Carrie appeared way back in episode two of season one, on the apartment wall of a character named Tyler, who gets an unexpected (and unwelcomed) visit from Nate:
That same episode featured a poster from another De Palma film, Scarface, on the wall of the drug dealer Fezco:
Episode four of season one found Levinson staging a carnival in which all of the series' main characters attend in one form or another, with a bit of a Bates High/prom-like tension to the various proceedings. That same episode ends with Rue and Jules on a bed that rotates into flashes of their relationship, set to a Pino Donaggio cue from Nicolas Roeg's Don't Look Now, "Laura's Theme". IndieWire's Steve Greene mentioned it in an article from 2020 about the music in Euphoria, for which he talked with Labrinth, who composes music for each episode, and music supervisor Jen Malone:
Finding that synergistic energy between music and picture doesn’t happen by accident. The shifting nature of TV refinement meant that it was never one clear-cut task after another. Labrinth said work on the carnival sequence came while he was juggling 20 other cues. Clearing part of Pino Donaggio’s score from “Don’t Look Now” for the show’s breathtaking rotating bed scene meant that Malone had to make calls to Italy in the middle of the night on a 48-hour deadline.
Tonight, the philm_philes watched Phantom Of The Paradise -- here are their reactions:
Joshua: on paper, there was almost a zero percent chance I was gunna dig this movie. Turns out I’m very thankful movies aren’t paper. What a ride! Why does no one talk about this movie?!??! And De Palma’s directing MAKES this film.
Hayley: THIS MOVIE RULES! It’s as if Phantom of the Opera and Rocky Horror made a baby on acid.
We love Kenny Caperton. He’s the Halloween fan who built and lives in a replica of the Myers House, as covered in FANGORIA v2, #1. Kenny is our kind of cinephile; he not only walks the walk, he lives the life. In the damn Myers House. Respect.
One would think that amount of dedication would scratch any horror location fan’s itch for good, but not Kenny. Kenny has, for the last couple of years, curated a traveling film screening series called On Set Cinema, and its premise is simple: you watch a classic horror movie at the location where it was filmed. From Friday the 13th to Rocky Horror to Twilight and beyond, Kenny hosts amazing fan events where you can enjoy a movie with fellow fans in the environs where it all happened.
And this summer, Kenny wants to ask you to prom. Carrie White’s prom, to be specific.
On July 30th, fans will gather at the Hermosa Beach Community Center Gym to pose for prom photos, compete in a costume contest, and watch the 1976 Brian De Palma classic Carrie with Tommy Ross himself, William Katt!
SATURDAY, JULY 30, 2022: CARRIE (1976)
WITH SPECIAL GUEST WILLIAM KATT (TOMMY ROSS)
Hermosa Beach, California • Bates High School Gymnasium
On Set Cinema cordially invites you to be our date to the Bates High School “Love Among The Stars” senior prom! Cover up those dirty pillows and head with us to Hermosa Beach, California on Saturday, July 30, 2022 for a very special screening event of one of the greatest movies in horror film history ...CARRIE! And I'm excited to announce that everyone's favorite prom king, Tommy Ross (William Katt) will be a special guest at this event! He will be signing autographs, taking prom photos with fans and doing a Q&A before the screening. I'll be showing the film inside the actual gymnasium from the movie! So many great scenes were filmed here - including where Miss Collins (Betty Buckley) gets the girls to line up after they humiliate Carrie in the girl's locker room and tells them about her detention deal, also where Carrie (Sissy Spacek) tells Miss Collins outside that she was invited to the prom and of course where the infamous prom takes places! Just the exteriors of the prom were filmed at this location - the interior was a massive set constructed for safety reasons because of all of the fire special effects, but this is where the iconic shot of Carrie covered in blood, walking from the burning gymnasium takes place! There will be music, silver stars, streamers, dancing, a prom photo backdrop with a blood bucket, a King & Queen costume contest and a glorious screening of Brian De Palma’s cinematic adaptation of Stephen King’s groundbreaking first ever published novel, CARRIE! Fans are encouraged to dress up for the prom or in costume as your favorite character from the movie, but of course it's not required to attend. This is going to be an absolutely unforgettable experience for Carrie fans! ...here piggy piggy.
• Location: Hermosa Beach Community Center Gym - 710 Pier Ave, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254
• Date / Time: Saturday, July 30, 2022
- 5:00pm: Event check-in starts
- 5:00pm - 7:00pm: Music, dancing, prom photos
- 5:00pm - 7:00pm: William Katt autograph signing and meet & greet with fans
- 7:00pm: William Katt Q&A
- 7:30pm: King & Queen costume contest (winners get prizes, including William Katt signed item)
- 8:00pm: Screening of “CARRIE” (1976, Rated R - 1h 38m)
• Facebook event page / IMDb / Movie trailer
• Admission: $50.00 *** CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE TICKETS ***
WILLIAM KATT PRICING:
- AUTOGRAPH & SELFIE COMBO: $40 - 1 autograph (your item or his item) from William, 1 photograph (your camera) with William at table
- $40 for each additional autograph - you can get as many as you want!
- PROM BACKDROP PICTURE WITH WILLAIM (YOUR CAMERA): $25
After going a bit into the production and plot details, Dr Lenera continues:
The overall message of the film can be summed up by the scene where he’s relaxing in the grand bath in his grand mansion ranting at people on his TV screen and also the people around him. The world may his his but he can’t enjoy it. Many claim Pacino’s performance to be over the top but I don’t think it really gets there; he’s playing a mouthy lout whose every other word is “f***”, but the performance is controlled. Pacino doesn’t make Tony sympathetic, yet we can still identify with him in a way even if we don’t like ourselves for doing so. This is because most of us have visions of being able to be rich and powerful and not have to actually do much in the way of work to achieve this. Turning to crime for this to happen is surely a temptation when the ‘right’ way seems impossible. The image of Tony sitting at his desk desperately plunging his face into a pile of cocaine for reasons of both boredom and wanting some energy perfectly sums up how it can all go wrong even if you get ‘there’. “In a way Tony is a near-compendium of common criminal personality traits; laziness, low self-esteem, the idea that the world owes him, pipe dreams, a chronic inability to be happy etc.
You could say that Tony sells his soul, but did he have one in the first place? He doesn’t show much of one when he’s with Elvira who becomes the trophy wife of two kingpins; ignored, bored and driven to addiction to the Bolivian marching powder. Okay, Tony acts like he’s really keen on her at first, but even then it seems like she’s just something that he wants to own which will in turn raise his status. Michelle Pfeiffer brings some real sadness to a role that would probably be criticised today because now all female characters have to be strong, though I will admit that her sudden switching from disdain and even revulsion [seemingly more of class than anything else] of Tony is a bit hard to swallow. In any case, Tony, just like his predecessor in the 1932 version which this does resemble in a few ways, has much stronger feelings for another female – his sister Gina There’s a poignant scene where he visits the house of Gina and their mother and gives them money. Mother doesn’t want any of it because she knows that her son has got it by doing bad things, but Gina secretly accepts it, Tony telling her to go out and have fun. But unfortunately Tony doesn’t let her have very much fun, In fact he goes berserk whenever he sees her with another man while we slowly zoom into Tony’s face and a loud sinister musical chord comes on the soundtrack, in an example of the kind of dramatic heightening of something that isn’t done much today and which critics and audiences may not take seriously. But this was 1983 and Brian De Palma, so you’re never going to get subtlety anyway. This subplot reaches a climax which borders on high camp but does so in the very best way and is acted with not just power but genuine sincerity by Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio.
Elsewhere characters may speak in dialogue which borders on being parodic, but they don’t seem to come out of the dictionary of gangster stereotypes – well, as much as it existed back then. Of course there are hardly any Cubans in the cast, but then some of us wax wroth for the days when people didn’t whinge about things like that. We could have done with more scenes involving Harris Yulin’s bent cop Bernstein who extorts money in return for police protection; the two exchanges between him and Tony really fizzle. But we get a very good idea of how this organisation works and flourishes. Nothing after the chainsaw scene is as grim despite a helicopter hanging and loads of bloody shootings. Like many films in this genre, the much ballyhooed violence takes up very little of the running time, though we do get a classic climax of carnage where we finally, yes, get that well known line about Tony’s little friend. There’s no doubt that the De Palma quirkiness that us fans love so much has been deliberately minimised, but would really be appropriate for this particular film anyway? We do get a nightclub shootout which is proceeded by a man wearing a bizarre head mask dancing on stage, and a superbly suspenseful section involving a slow car pursuit where Tony has to kill someone and reveals that, though it’s hard to believe, there are limits as to what he’s willing to do. Camerawork tends to be slower and more unobtrusive than usual for a De Palma film, but we still get some fine things like a cut to a city in sunset which, when we adjust our eyes, we is really part of the front of a lavish restaurant as the camera slowly zooms out to reveal a little sandwich van parked near it but virtually insignificant by comparison, with Tony and Manny working in it.
There’s a considerable smoothness to the edits and the lensing, but that still allows the cinematography by John A. Alonzo to gloriously show the pull and the sexiness of what Tony desires replete with vibrant colours, then close in on small, tight compositions as Tony’s world shrinks. Giorgio Moroder’s score is only slightly less conspicuous than what you’d get from De Palma’s usual composer Pino Donaggio and is truly essential to the experience of Scarface. His electronic compositions provide a mood perhaps of a lifestyle and a culture that has no real depth, which is all surface, and which doesn’t have the comfort of real luxury. Having Moroder also write and produce nearly all of the pop songs heard [usually in the nightclubs] means that there’s a synchronicity of sound throughout; so many films separate the songs and the score in a jarring way. Moroder’s main theme [sadly not properly available on the soundtrack album] has a mock grandeur that suits what we’re watching, while Gina’s theme is unabashedly sentimental, an illustration of Tony’s feelings for her. They once tried to re-do the soundtrack with rap music. Much as I love Moroder’s work, it would have been an interesting exercise that I’d have liked to see, though it may have glorified Tony and the criminal life too much, something the film as it stands doesn’t. Perhaps its most incisive scene has a very high but very unhappy Tony, in possibly his only real moment of clarity, going on to customers in a restaurant about how they need him and telling them to “Say goodbye to the bad guy”. This suggests that, incredible though it may seem, we need people like Tony Montana so we can blame him for things and feel better about ourselves. In short, the bad needs to exist so we can have the good.
Where the Juicy Fruits come across as unselfconscious and ironic, and where Phoenix comes across as earnest almost to the point of desperation, their successor (Gerrit Graham) is willing to lean into knowing camp, and all the excesses that come with it. Even his improbable (incredible!) name—Beef—is a wink toward voracious appetites, and more than just a nod to sexual innuendo. Beef is artificial, swimming in irony. Beef knows the rules of the production game, and he’s in on the joke. He matches Swan’s excesses with excesses of his own, slipping across the stage in wooden high-heeled shoes, his hair caked in glitter and coiffed like that of a classical Greek statue. He pronounces the word “professional” with extra syllables. The Juicy Fruits’ presentation might have been cobbled together from genre to genre, but Beef beats the label band at their own game by performing dressed as Frankenstein’s monster—a man created by the label purely to sell music in spectacular fashion.
And De Palma—like Swan and his cronies—sells spectacle here, more than anything else. The entire film is soaked in color: crimson and gold in the hallways of the titular Paradise club, metallics shining in the microphones and musical instruments, and the flash of neon lights in pink, green, and yellow in the background at every show. Paradise attendees and auditioning hopefuls wear clothing in natural fibers and floral prints, nature untouched by Swan, the devil in a shag haircut and leisure suit. The performers on stage, in contrast, wear sequins and spandex, synthetic materials in spectacular colors and shapes. Phoenix starts off dressed simply enough, but dons a coat made entirely of pheasant feathers once she’s been crowned Swan’s newest favorite. The Phantom wears black skin-tight leather, a void of a man who’s been emptied of his art by a soulless producer. Even the blood, when it’s finally spilled, is cherry red. It pops off the screen, mortal seriousness masked in a cartoon shade.
The cartoony nature of the visuals sells the faux-glamor of the Paradise better than any realistic style could; the exaggerated nature of the sets, cheap as they might look, gives the movie an appearance of being that much larger than life. Swan’s production company, Death Records, features winding, impractical black-and-white corridors that twist through the building with no discernible logic, in an inefficient and extravagant use of space. Before he becomes the Phantom, Winslow Leach enters the building hoping to be signed by Swan. He finds nothing of substance: no recording studios, no instruments, no producer, just a woman in a Death Records t-shirt filing her nails behind a desk, and a record press that will maim Leach’s face, driving him to haunt the Paradise for revenge.
Where Death Records is sparse, the Paradise is ornate: the club is festooned with mirrors, doing double duty to make the building’s interior look bigger, even though the images those mirrors reflect have no real substance. Swan can see himself from any angle in those mirrors, can admire his own self-declared perfection whenever he’d like. He knows himself for the devil he is. The Phantom, on the other hand, can’t confront himself in those same mirrors. He shies away; they magnify his burned face, and with it his failure to hold on to the rights to his own music. The Phantom covers his face in shining metal armor to protect him from pity and scorn, including his own.
Before it all goes to hell, before Leach is signed to a contract under Swan, before he’s disfigured and trapped within the Paradise’s walls as the Phantom, before the opulence of the Paradise is shown to be a sham, Leach plays piano in a club. He might be an unsigned artist playing unpopular music, but De Palma treats that art with respect. The camera swirls around Leach as he plays and sings, the lens holding a tight focus on his face. Everything else falls away. There’s no artifice: Leach’s music, with no frills added, is the only art in the world that matters. He’s certainly the only artist in the building; he’s playing to an empty club. The only person in-film who can hear him is Swan, and tragically, Swan doesn’t hear Leach the way we do. He only hears a song that he wants to repurpose for the opening of the Paradise.
Months in the future and miles away, Phoenix is pushed on the stage at the opening of the Paradise. Beef has flamed out on stage, murdered by the vengeful Phantom, and in his desperation to keep the show going, Swan turns to the singer he’d rejected for being too perfect and too innocent. She steals the show with a song Leach wrote for her.
“Old Souls” is an anomaly—a slow love ballad, far more restrained than any other song in the film. The piano accompanying Phoenix’s performance takes a back seat to Jessica Harper’s voice. The maximalist stage setting from Beef’s performance is gone, replaced by a simple velvet curtain; the raucous audience screaming that they want Beef is silenced. They’re held rapt by everything Swan has previously discarded. Instead of glitter, darkness; instead of Beef’s stagy hypermasculinity, Phoenix’s unpracticed and unguarded femininity; instead of processed false youth, a song about a love older than the lovers experiencing it.
“All souls last forever so we need never fear goodbye,” sings Phoenix, and for a moment, the artifice driving Phantom of the Paradise falls away. There’s no need to sell youth anymore, because there’s nothing to fear from aging. Phoenix’s song is genuine because it embraces change and age, and it refuses to put a price tag on the love around which the lyrics turn. Phoenix isn’t selling anything to her audience; she’s giving it away for free.
If you haven't yet wandered off from this Quentin Tarantino-OCD-party conversation crash course in film music's oddities and digressions, rest easy knowing that the last of this month's selections come from a real movie — and a bona fide classic at that. As always, Waxwork Records releases some of the best-produced soundtracks from the horror genre's top films, and its premier release of 2022 is Pino Donaggio's music for Brian De Palma's Carrie. Looking back at it, this score is essentially a dialectic between the romanticism of late '60s and early '70s horror composers like Morricone and Riz Ortolani and the emphatic suspense of the scores from '70s "prestige" (read: studio bankrolled) films like The Exorcist, The Omen and The Amityville Horror, where luminaries like Jerry Goldsmith and Lalo Schifrin offered their riffs on Bernard Herrman's music for the shower scene from Psycho. Some of it's too pretty for horror, and some of it's too simplistic for it (especially in 1976), but together it operates in the same referential way that De Palma's films do, for a simultaneously visceral and almost nostalgic effect.
Donaggio also composed a few goofier cues like "Calisthenics" or the halfhearted disco of "The Tuxedo Shop" that break up the sweet-scary rhythms of the rest of the score in a welcome way. Still, it's ones like "Carrie and Miss Collins" that so unforgettably underscore Carrie White's tragic, alienated journey, while "The Coronation / The Blood" is so vivid and operatic that you can see every swing of the camera as it follows that rope up to the rafters where a bucket of pig's blood waits to rain down on Carrie, unleashing the full intensity of her powers during the film's climax. Finally, some extra fake pop tune cues conclude the record. Versions of library music recorded deliberately as background or "source" music played not over the scene but inside them, whose AM-radio vibes manage to lull you into a state of calm and vulnerability that's unexpectedly, thrillingly broken by the brilliance of Donaggio's mastery of melody and mood. Of course, De Palma's film operates the exact same way, even before Carrie's hand juts out from beneath the rocks on her grave to grab Sue Snell; but the score for Carrie is a bit of an overshadowed classic, and like the other records listed here, revisiting or focusing more intensely on it offers multiple rewards.
Yes, it’s a mafia story, and a gangster story, and Brian De Palma had seen a film I did called Indochine, directed by Régis Wargnier. He is a very good friend of Régis Wargnier. And after that, he heard the score, he called me up himself to speak to me, and asked me if I would do this. Of course I said, ‘I think I can do this.’ [laughter] I said yes immediately, of course. He’s an iconic director – unbelievable. So this was an incredible assignment. And I suppose I just delved into all my perceptions and years of watching The Godfather and a million other gangster movies, from James Cagney, White Heat, or whatever. You name it. I was brought up in a world where you only had two or three stations. We had ITV and the BBC. And of course, you saw every film that was from the previous fifty years. So I watched so many of these American gangster pictures, and so I felt as if I had a passion and a feel for it. And it was wonderful to have this opportunity to create a jazz-driven score, really. It was quite a jazzy score. And also a great opportunity to write passionate… it was a passionate love story mixed with this mafia background, and a sort of dilemma. It was a guy who had to make a choice between the old world and the new world, finding love and going off with the bride of his dreams. There was romance and there was excitement and there was tension in it, and there was this jazz feeling. And a wonderful drive. And the action sequence at the end, you know, the locomotive. And this movement at the end, it sort of was [handled] out throughout the score… and ultimately planting some subconscious connections to the chase sequence at the end.
I’ll tell you an interesting story about the chase sequence. The famous Grand Central sequence that he shot. I happened to be in New York to watch, to see what Pacino, comes in, and he holds the dust bin up over his head, and he’s looking up to his girlfriend Gail who is dancing in a loft in New York. And the following day, I went to see that particular sequence. And I watched the ten-minute sequence. And this was presented to him by the editor. He had never seen it before, cut together, and obviously neither had I. And he turned over to me and he said, ‘Bill’ – it was Bill Pankow, the guy’s name – and he said, ‘Bill, go back to…’ and he went back a couple thousand feet or whatever it was, he said, ‘In this scene, I want DA BA DA BA BA! DA BA BA BA BA!’ In terms of the cut. And that was his only note in that ten-minute sequence. And that taught me immediately that this guy was extremely rhythmical and musical. And it turns out his knowledge of classical music and the repertoire was quite formidable, because we’d talk about Tristan and Isolde, we would talk about anything… At one point, I wrote a piece of music, and he said, ‘Patrick, you’re driving my scene. You’re telegraphing my story.’ And he also taught me, I’m embarrassed to say, to look closer to a picture. Just look at, you think you’ve seen all of it, go the extra twenty percent, study every corner of it. And I thought I was doing that. And so I learned a lot from him. What was interesting was, he said, ‘You go finish the score, I’ll see you in four weeks.’ I said, ‘No, we have to have a meeting.’ ‘No, no, I’ll see you in four weeks.’ I said [laughing now], ‘No, no, no, I’m not ready to score all the other sessions without you having heard nothing.’ Okay. That’s the reason I went to New York – I asked to go over to him and play material to him. ‘Okay, if you like.’ And he loved it and that was it! But I still needed that reassurance before I run the sessions… I think it helps clarify the work and that.