Hey horror film fanatics, it’s me, Slick Dungeon. Today I am going to review the first film in one of the weirdest and most unique horror franchises ever, Phantasm.
This is part of my film challenge for the year and it checks off the box, watch a movie that scares you. If you want to participate in the movie challenge you can download it right here. If you want to check out all my challenges for the year, check out this post.
Phantasm sits in an unusual place in horror. It’s a slasher film but it’s also a sci-fi film. When I was a kid, I remember watching this and being terrified. I wanted to revisit it to see if it held up and was as creepy as I remembered. I am going to give some spoilers below. This is a movie that a lot of people have not seen so I won’t give away anything too major but if you are interested in seeing it I would recommend doing that before you read the review. You’ve been warned.
In a small little town in the 1970’s a man is murdered by a woman in the middle of a cemetery. The victim is Tommy who is friends with Reggie and Jody. Jody and his little brother Mike are the stars of the film, although all of the characters shown have important roles to play. Tommy getting stabbed to death in the cemetery at the beginning of the film might be the most normal thing that happens in the whole movie.
Mike sees the tall man who runs the cemetery pick up Tommy’s coffin all by himself and load it into a hearse. The Tall Man is played brilliantly by Angus Scrimm who has a face and demeanor that is sure to be memorable. Unlike other slasher villains, The Tall Man doesn’t need a mask to be terrifying. It’s all in his face.
Soon Mike is telling his brother strange things are going on at the cemetery. There are odd sounds, creatures that may or may not be resurrected bodies and floating spheres of death that can come flying at anyone who is poking around the cemetery.
In one sense this plays out like a normal slasher film. People are at risk of death and have to escape the situation and try to kill the killer. The interesting thing about this film is the tone is utterly menacing and although the reveals at the end might seem to be odd to viewers, for the most part they work. The movie also views somewhat like an art film. There are parts that no matter how many times you watch them, they don’t quite make sense. In the end it doesn’t matter. The effects don’t hold up that well and as an adult it’s pretty easy to see how they made the scares happen. But there is no mistaking the menace in The Tall Man. And the silver death spheres are still frightening in my opinion.
If you are not a horror fan I don’t think it’s necessary to seek this one out. But if you like horror and you want something that is a little more surreal than normal and something that isn’t just your standard killer invades a home type of horror, consider checking this one out. Even if it doesn’t scare you at all, I guarantee there will be something here that you will remember long after viewing.
If you have watched this one, especially recently, let me know what you thought of it in the comments.