Some films, for whatever reason, gain a cult following, and are able to produce numerous sequels based on the popularity of the first film. Many times, the films are not the most well produced, but would be entertaining enough to be what some may call, a “guilty pleasure”.
Today’s film may fall into that category. It has spawned 3 sequels, many fan expos, and even novelizations. There are two characters particularly recognizable, being seen in haunted houses and novelty shops alike.
31 Days of Howl-oween
A Review of Films Filled with Frights
~ Phantasm ~
Director: Don Coscarelli
Cast: A. Michael Baldwin, Bill Thornbury, Reggie Bannister, Angus Scrimm
Country: United States
Specs: 88 mins. / Color / OAR 1.85:1 / MPAA Rating: R
After a series of mysterious deaths of local teens, Mike Pearson (Baldwin) witnesses a strange event involving the caretaker (Scrimm) of the local mortuary. He informs his older brother Jody (Thornbury) and his friend Reggie (Bannister) of his observations, where they suspect the caretaker is involved with the deaths. They soon stumble upon the caretakers diabolical secret, and it’s up to them to stop him before he brings havoc on the world.
The film could never be called good. The acting itself is stiffer than the cadavers within. The plot-line is one of the most nonsensical gobbledygook plots I’ve ever seen. On one hand, the characters are smarter than the most perceptive of detectives (one character looks into a doorway/portal and suddenly knows everything about the protagonist and his minions), yet are denser than the victims of the lobotomy ball (they never once figure to call the police or adults?!?!).
The actions of The Tall Man never do make sense, nor does the metal flying orb. Some things are so silly (everyone goes to the cemetery to make love? Really?) that I wanted to provide a commentary of my own for the people viewing with me.
However, I, if truth be told, pleasantly enjoyed the film! It’s a guilty pleasure. Part of it may be the “jawa” creatures (as I used to be a fan of “Star Wars”, pre-1997.) Part of it may be the nostalgia of a 70’s movie (I had never seen it before, but remember those times). I’m guessing that the real reason, actually, was the music.
The music in this film is another case, as I wrote a few days back, of a score that will stick with the viewer in perpetuity. What a wonderful, eerie, way to set the mood, and give a theme to the characters.
I also enjoyed seeing, what obviously came first, a number of plot elements and scenes that appeared in another classic horror franchise years later. “Nightmare on Elm Street” seems to have “borrowed” from this film in ways that I will leave to the viewer to pick up on. I’ll just say…I wonder if Don and John ever spoke about that?
I’m eager to rent the sequels and see where The Tall Man, Reggie, and Mike go next. Who knows, I just may have to include them in next years series of films.
My Rating: *** / C-
Available on Amazon: Phantasm
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