Phantasm (1978) caps off our first week of the marathon

An old school horror movie with atmosphere, suspense and monsters with real menace! Yes please!

So, funny personal story about this movie. For a while I was not sure it existed. I had seen pieces of the sequel, Phantasm 2, several times, or maybe it was Phantasm 3. I’m not really sure. It would air on TV and I would catch some of it, remembering the silver orbs and the Tall Man, but I had never watched any of them from start to finish. I worked at a bunch of video stores and none of them had a movie called Phantasm, just 2 and 3. Ventures to other video rental and sales places also failed to turn up a Phantasm movie without a roman numeral after the name. I thought maybe the filmmakers were doing a Lucas. I was wrong obviously, but in my defence, these were the days before IMDB and Wikipedia.

So, having found and now watched a copy, what’s it about and what did I think of it?

Well, it’s a low budget horror movie produced over forty years ago with sometimes uneven acting from a group of people who had only a couple of other even lower budget movies behind them… but it’s pretty good and still holds up well today.

Angus Scrimm is The Tall Mann

I think Don Coscarelli did a good job with the writing and an even better job directing this film. You remember how I complained bout the music and villains in Last House on the Left? This movie has great atmospheric music, and Angus Scrimm is so menacing he gives you shivers just looking into the camera. Remember how I disliked the pacing in Unsane? This movie starts with a slow burn that builds the creepiness and fear over time. I even complained about the lack of dialog in It Follows, but Phantasm has characters that talk to each other, they discuss what is going on and make plans on what to do about it.

What really stood out for me though was an aspect most people don’t talk about. The audio. The sounds and noises made by the various critters and monsters really bring them to life and are creepy as hell.

Something that struck me when watching this movie… I got a real Supernatural vibe watching the two brothers fighting monsters and driving in their black muscle car. Could be coincidence, but I wonder if Eric Kripke is a fan of this film series.

Bottom line, if you are looking for a horror franchise to watch on Halloween, that most people have not heard about, give this one a try.

Spoilers below! Read only after watching!

Have you watched? Did you like it? Wanna talk about that ending?

I do remember the guy with the ponytail from the other movies I watched, so when they killed him off the second time, I was like…. when does he come back? Because I knew I had seen him in at least one sequel. Then he’s there and Jody isn’t and the whole movie was a dream, but then the Tall Man and his dwarf zombies attack Mike, so is he still dreaming or is this part real? Was any of it real? Were you confused like me?

The first part is definitely a dream, I guess the sequels will reveal whether or not the last part is and what happened to Jody.

Here’s the cool thing about what Don Coscarelli did with this movie. Thinking back about it AFTER watching it, you can see the clues that show it was a dream, but they aren’t anything that while WATCHING it, would make you think it was a dream. It’s like when you’re IN a dream. Weird things don’t phase you. People change from looking like one person, to looking like another. The Tall Man and the Lady in Lavender for example. People are in one place and inexplicably are suddenly in another with noone reacting or commenting, like when everyone is in the portal room the lights go dark and suddenly Jody and Mike are outside. Things that should be traumatic and emotional don’t really register, like Reggies death. Jody talking about Mike as if he weren’t there, even though he knows he’s right under the car.

There’s a lot there to show it was a dream but, like a dream, you don’t notice until you wake up. It’s only after watching the movie you think about these instances. I mean, you probably noticed them, and even asked a question, but you didn’t make too much of a deal about it, you just kept going. I love that about this movie. It sounds weird to say, but this is one of those films that is even better when it’s over and you’ve have time to process it and discuss it with others.

I need to know if the ACTUAL end was also a dream. So, even though I’ve seen some of the next movie (or two) I’m going to break my rule about only movies I’ve never watched and view the rest of them. You don’t mind, right?

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