10/19/09

Bad Songs #1: "The Hell of It" from The Phantom of the Paradise


I haven't seen The Phantom of the Paradise (1974) in forever - I really need to rewatch it. I remember it being awful, but one you could enjoy as a guilty pleasure.  I'm sort of confused how it is that Brian DePalma, the guy responsible for classics like Carrie, Dressed to Kill and Scarface, could put out something like this.  Then again, it has been a while, so maybe I should refrain from further criticism.  Evidently, some people think it's good enough to put together a big budget remake of this film in 2010.... big surprise.

Those who lived through the seventies will well remember Paul Williams - he was omnipresent in those days. You couldn't go two seconds without seeing his ugly mug. One minute he's on B.J. and the Bear and Smokey and the Bandit, the next he's hanging with Kermit the Frog on The Muppet Show and Danno on Hawaii Five-O.  Come to think of it, even if you didn't see or hear him, he was still present - you just didn't know it: he composed almost everything you heard from The Love Boat theme to "Just an Old Fashioned Love Song" by Three Dog Night and "We've Only Just Begun" by The Carpenters.  This dude was EVERYWHERE!

Listening to the soundtrack, I was stricken by a Willams song called "The Hell of It".  It's bad..... real bad. Listen at your own risk. You've been warned.

16 comments:

  1. Saw this for the 1st time last year. Soooo craptacular.

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  2. Wow! Little Enos goes from "We've Only Just Begun" to that piece o' excrement! I want to know how he made the synthesized farting noises toward the end of that disaster of a song. Did he have a keyboard like Ferris Bueller had that could make gastric disturbance noises at will? That is 3 minutes and 44 seconds of my life I wish I could have back.

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  3. I bought this for like $5 at Wal-mart a few years ago. I watch it almost every year around Halloween.

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  4. Paul Williams at his best wrote some amazing and beautiful songs. At his worst or even at his most average, his songs were awfully cloying! His acting was never (let me repeat that, never) good. Seemed like a nice guy, though. :)

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  5. Totally disagree. Love the song, love PHANTOM, love Paul.

    http://franklinmintblog.blogspot.com/search/label/Paul%20Williams

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  6. You're crazy. This song is great! Much better than the movie, anyway.

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  7. "Phantom of the Paradise" is frequently considered a distant cousin to "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." The two films have a lot in common, and Rocky's spin-off, "Shock Treatment," seems to borrow quite heavily from it (right down to star Jessica Harper, who replaced Susan Sarandon).

    As for "The Hell of It," it's so wonderfully cheesy that if they lyrics weren't so dementedly grim, one could easily envision the Muppets using it as a show-stopping tune ("Goodbye, Goodbye!").

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  8. Whoops, forgot to mention that Paul Williams performed "The Hell of It" on "The Brady Bunch Variety Hour." Which sort of summarizes the cheesetastic nature of the song.

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  9. NO! NO REMAKE! This movie is one of my most favoritest guiltiest pleasures of all time. I think I'm going to have to put together a costume and mask, move into the studio, and start killing off the remake's director, producer, writer...

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  10. Anyone remember the 'Odd Couple' episode when Felix's daughter runs away from home because she can't go to a Paul Williams concert?
    And I thought Marsha Brady's thing for Davey Jones was hard to believe.

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  11. zibbs- I need to see this again. Judging by the comments to this post, the opinions of it are all over the place from awful to great.

    hitch- How do you know the noises are synthesized? Could be genuine P.Williams emissions. Just a thought.

    metalmark- Sounds fun. Off the subject a bit, but I just saw a new release called "Trick 'r Treat" that was just plain incredible. I plan on making that my own yearly Halloween viewing from here on out!

    booksteve- True. Every artist has a few duds. Even the Beatles recorded "Mr. Moonlight". (yecch)

    franklin mint & SignofZeta- I can appreciate cheezyness as much as the next guy.... however, I have my threshold, and this one surpassed it.

    vinnie- The Hell of It sung in the presence of The Bradys?! I hope Alice covered poor Cindy's ears. (BTW - Vinnie, you have one of the best sites on all of the internets IMHO.... I'm just sayin').

    propogandrix- The remake will probably suck. But maybe the remake of the remake will be good.

    ryoki- LOL!! I remember that now! Hilarious!

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  12. I'm with Franklin on this one. This is one of my favorite flicks. (Another one, Gas-s-s-!, is currently free on demand on Comcast and I intend to watch it tonight.) And yes, I love the song. "Born defeated, lived in vain, super-destructive you were hooked on pain"--mutato nomine de te fabula narratur.

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  13. Never saw it really but remember reading that there was some issue with Led Zeppelin and this film. The makers used the Swan Logo in some scenes without permission and the Zep boys threatened a lawsuit and the scenes were cut out.

    I remember Paul Williams from the era of 70's prime time when he would appear as a guest star on every other TV show. I recall an episode of Barretta with Robert Blake with him for some reason that was not too bad.

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  14. By the way, Gilligan, I couldn't find a review of Gas-s-s on your blog. Can it be that the guru of pop culture hasn't seen it?? Hippies in a postapocalyptic world? Directed by Roger Corman? Starring Ben Vereen, Cindy Williams, and Talia Shire?
    http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/gassss/
    There's even a scene that inspired a dialogue exchange in Star Trek IV.

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  15. And I thought Marsha Brady's thing for Davey Jones was hard to believe.

    Ryoki, truth is stranger than fiction. The sixtysomething lilliputian ex-Monkee is currently married to Jessica Pacheco, a Latina hottie literally half his age. I guess she became smitten with him at the age of nine, when her parents dragged her to the Monkees' twentieth-anniversary reunion tour.

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  16. How can you say that such a fantastic piece of musical genious is bad.This song is incredible.And I saw his performance of it on the Brady Bunch variety hour . fantastic although for that show that's not saying much.

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