Brian De Palma’s “Phantom of the Paradise” was not a hit when it came out in 1974, released to mild reviews and an even more unforgiving box office. At least, that was the case seemingly everywhere in the world except for the Canadian hub of Winnipeg, where “Phantom of the Paradise” became a fixation for seemingly any ‘Pegger (as they’re called) that had a feel for the crazy rock ’n roll in De Palma’s film. As other movies came through the city, “Phantom of the Paradise” would linger, and play shows week after week after week.
A whole batch of impressionable, outsider kids were never the same, and inspired them to become musicians, or to see a part of themselves they hadn’t. Canadian filmmaker Kevin Smith speaks in this movie about how these “phans” are such a select, intense bunch that they might as well have been experiments by aliens, brought back onto Earth. Watching these men and women talk with giddy smiles about “Phantom of the Paradise,” like cult members dedicated to a bonafide oddity, he’s onto something.
So goes the story of Malcolm Ingram and Sean Stanley’s documentary “Phantom of Winnipeg,” a consistently delightful collection of life stories where loving “Phantom of the Paradise” is at the center.