By Jay Quinn (Tonawanda, NY)
There are a few horror movies out there where you hear a simple theme song and you know exactly what it is without thinking. Some well-known movies with these simple themes include The Exorcist, The Fog, The Omen and the movie that I am reviewing tonight. This movie known only as Phantasm is a cult movie that spawned a franchise that I believe gets passed over by the masses of the horror community. This movie is sooo underrated, this movie isn’t your simple shut your mind off and watch kind of movie. You actually got to pay attention or you will get confused. Phantasm is a highly intelligent film that is in its own category when it comes to horror movies. Let’s not be a fool though this is a very bizarre, weird, strange horror film that went on to create 3 sequels .
A fourth sequel known only as Phantasm V Ravager or just Phantasm Ravager is being released on Digital HD and limited theater showings October 7th 2016. I for one am really looking forward to seeing this new Phantasm film. It will be the final film we see the late Angus Scrimm, who sadly passed away on January 9, 2016. With that being said let’s get into the original cult classic Phantasm! This movie was made on a shoe string budget of $300,000 that was funded to director Don Coscarelli by his father and other known associates. It was a family ran film at times when making this movie as Don’s mother did some of the special effects, the make-up and costume design. Because this was such a low budget film Don Coscarelli actually written, photographed, co-produced, edited and directed it all by himself. This was due to the fact he wanted this movie to be a vision he wanted and didn’t want a major studio screwing up what he planned to do.
This movie’s story takes place after the main character’s Jodie (Bill Thornbury) and Mike Pearson’s(A. Michael Baldwin) parents passed away that Mike is certain The Tallman(Angus Scrimm) was responsible for. Jodie is now not only an older brother but sole guardian of Mike, Mike starts to spy on The Tallman and starts to learn some weird horrifying truths that nightmares are made of. He tries to get Jodie and family friend Reggie(Reggie Bannister) to believe him about The Tallman, which they do after Mike comes home with The Tallman’s hand. We also learn that The Tallman has small robed minions that he creates from the newly deceased that he brings back to life to do his dirty work. The Tallman man also has weapons known as Sentinel Spheres to help him kill anybody that stands in his way. The Spheres were created through a twisted process of unknown technology by the Tall Man, inside these spheres are drills and blades that stab you in the head and kill you in very gory ways.
The dream like imagery and out there story is just very unique and special and not a lot of horror movies are made like that anymore. When this movie hit theaters in 1979 the reviews were mixed down the line, some positive some negative but over the years this movie gained cult status and now this franchise is up there with other well-known franchises. Again it Spawn 3 sequels over the years Phantasm II (1988) almost 10 years after the original, Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead (1994), and Phantasm IV: Oblivion (1998). The thing I love about this franchise is this is Don Coscarelli’s baby so only he will direct these movies and I am way ok with that. At least the vision and imagery is consistent and so is the story. It does how ever get even weirder in the next few sequels and I for one can’t wait to see how this story ends in Part V Phantasm Ravager.
With that being said this is part 1 of my Phantasm retrospective movie reviews and part 2 will be next. I give this original epic movie 4 out of 5 skulls!! So if you want to see a creepy, bizarre, freaky weird movie then sit back and make a bag of popcorn and check this movie out! You won’t be disappointed because as I said before this movie in my opinion is under rated and deserves more praise then it gets!!!