Epsilon Spires presents glam-rock musical ‘Phantom of the Paradise’

BRATTLEBORO — On Saturday, Oct. 2, a special presentation of the cult classic Phantom of the Paradise will take place at 8 p.m. in the Sanctuary of Epsilon Spires.

“Fans of The Rocky Horror Picture Show will be delighted with this lesser-known rock opera influenced by works such as Faust and The Picture of Dorian Grey, albeit viewed through the glitter-flecked lens of lavish 1970s glam rock,” organizers of the event write in a news release.

Directed by Brian De Palma (who would go on to direct blockbusters such as Carrie, Scarface, and the 1996 release of Mission: Impossible), Phantom of the Paradise explores the tension between artistic authenticity and pop-culture marketability through the story of a nebbish singer-songwriter who unwittingly sells his soul to a nefarious record producer for the opportunity to have his epic rock cantata performed by his muse.

That role is played in the film by a young Jessica Harper, years before she starred in Dario Argento's classic horror movie Suspiria.

Phantom of the Paradise has developed an intense fan following, especially in the Canadian city of Winnipeg, which hosts an annual convention dedicated to the film, Phantompalooza.

The screening at Epsilon Spires will be introduced by two Phantom devotees: Ari Kahan, who runs the obsessively comprehensive website “The Swan Archives” and Anna Feder, the director of programming in the Visual Media Arts Department at Emerson College and founder of the Boston Underground Film Festival.

Feder grew up with The Rocky Horror Picture Show and, as someone who has a deep interest in film, she was surprised that she hadn't heard of The Phantom of the Paradise until fairly recently.

“I'm a curator who is excited to find films that have been lost and reintroduce them to audiences,” Feder said in a news release. “Until someone says, 'Hey, you should see this,' folks don't necessarily find their way to them.”

Phantom of the Paradise and The Rocky Horror Picture Show have a lot in common aesthetically, but Feder prefers Phantom.

“I like the film better, the music better. It resonated with me in a different way,” she said.

But she agrees that both films should be seen on a big screen with a live audience.

“It's the perfect film for getting back into cinema and wanting to be around people, hearing people responding and laughing,” she said.

The introduction to the film will be enhanced by an act that Feder attributes to her love of showmanship: getting a tattoo of the logo of Swan's record label live on stage.

“I was thinking, 'How can we make gathering to see a movie more interesting than just watching it and talking about it?'” she said. “Everything is about stories, and now I'll have a story about this tattoo.”

Audience members are encouraged to attend the screening in their best glam-rock apparel. A refreshment will be given to anyone in costume.

Tickets are $15, and each ticket is automatically entered into a raffle for a $50 gift certificate to the downtown clothing store Boomerang.

Tickets for all events at Epsilon Spires are available at

Subscribe to the newsletter for weekly updates