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Phantasm (1979)

R  |   |  Horror, Sci-Fi  |  28 March 1979 (USA)
6.9
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 20,741 users  
Reviews: 259 user | 142 critic

A young boy and his friends face off against a mysterious grave robber known only as the Tall Man, who keeps a mysterious arsenal of terrible weapons with him.

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Title: Phantasm (1979)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Mike (as Michael Baldwin)
Bill Thornbury ...
...
Kathy Lester ...
Lady in Lavender
Terrie Kalbus ...
Kenneth V. Jones ...
Caretaker (as Ken Jones)
Susan Harper ...
Girlfriend
Lynn Eastman-Rossi ...
Sally (as Lynn Eastman)
David Arntzen ...
Toby
Ralph Richmond ...
Bartender
Bill Cone ...
Tommy
Laura Mann ...
Double Lavender
Mary Ellen Shaw ...
Myrtle Scotton ...
Maid
...
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Storyline

Mike, a young teenage boy who has just lost his parents, is afraid to lose his brother. This fear causes him to follow his brother to a funeral, where Mike witnesses the Tall Man lift a coffin on his own. Mike decides to investigate and discovers a horrible world where the Tall Man, along with his flying spheres, shrink the to half their normal size and reanimate them as slaves. It is then up to Mike, his brother, and Reggie the ice cream man to stop the Tall man. Written by Chris Nickerson <cnicker@bgnet.bgsu.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

If this one doesn't scare you, you're already dead! See more »

Genres:

Horror | Sci-Fi

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

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Release Date:

28 March 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Morningside  »

Box Office

Budget:

$300,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the Fortune Teller's house, right behind Mike is a copy of the famous painting "The Starry Night" by Vincent van Gogh. See more »

Goofs

When Jody fires his Colt pistol, no empty cartridge cases are ejected. See more »

Quotes

Jody: What's out there?
Mike: I don't know. It was little, brown and low to the ground.
Jody: Ahh, it was probably just a gopher in heat.
See more »

Crazy Credits

With the exception of the title Phantasm appearing on-screen, there are no opening credits. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Digging Up the Marrow (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Sittin' Here At Midnight
by Bill Thornbury
Thornbury Music
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Imaginative, Bizarre, And Thoroughly Entertaining.
15 July 2006 | by (New York City, New York, USA) – See all my reviews

"Phantasm" is about a young teenager, Mike, who just recently lost his parents. He is worried about losing his older brother, so he follows him everywhere, including a funeral. While hiding in the bushes during the funeral, Mike sees "The Tall Man" (played by the creepy Angus Scrimm), the man who runs the funeral home, pick up a casket by himself. Mike begins spying on the man afterwards, fascinated with uncovering the strange events surrounding the funeral home. While investigating, Mike discovers a strange world within the walls of the mortuary, including flying metal spheres with sharp arrows that drain the blood from your head, and many other horrors. Turns out, the Tall Man is from another dimension, and is taking the bodies of the dead and reincarnating them in his world for slaves. Mike teams up with his older brother and the local ice cream man, Reggie, to stop the Tall Man's gruesome work.

I remember my mother telling me about how much "Phantasm" scared her when she was a teenager, and she rented it one day and I watched it along with her (I was about nine or ten at the time), and it was genuinely one of the most bizarre movies I've ever viewed. Written (as well as directed) by Don Coscarelli, "Phantasm" has become something of a horror classic over the years, and deservedly so. Coscarelli's writing here is so unique that it hurts. Everything in this film is surreal and dreamlike, and the entire plot line is so out there that I can't think of another film that can quite compete in terms of strangeness. But, despite it's strangeness, this movie works, in it's own, weird little way. The script is solid and the characters are believable (there are some real-life situations thrown in as well, so there is some sort of viewer-character connections that can be made), even though about ninety-nine percent of this film is something of pure fantasy. But it's quite a scary fantasy, and that's for sure.

There are many elements in this film that have become somewhat legendary, among them being the murderous silver spheres and The Tall Man's "Boyyyyy!" line. The thing is, among all of the randomness that is "Phantasm", this is quite a terrifying movie. A dense feeling of helplessness and foreboding is hiding in every scene, and the cinematography and locations add to this quite a bit. The imagery is bizarre and often very spooky, and the settings are perfect (especially that creepy old funeral home). The viewers themselves are easily caught up in the engrossing story, and the atmosphere is very scary. Michael Baldwin plays our lead hero well, with Reggie Bannister as the ice cream man, and Bill Thornbury as Mike's older brother, Jody. And Angus Scrimm plays his signature role as The Tall Man, and his presence alone makes this film scarier than most of it's genre. And then there's the score to the film, which is equally as effective and just as chilling. The film concludes leaving many questions open-ended and unanswered, but honestly - can you really expect genuine, fulfilling answers when the movie itself is so strange? I think it's good that this film does leave some loose ends, because it goes along with the movie's overall feel.

Bottom line - I don't think this movie is for everyone, and it might be just a little bit too weird for some. Honestly, one of the strangest, most out-there films I have ever seen, but in my opinion, that's a good thing. The story is strange but well crafted, and the bizarre imagery and atmosphere make this a painfully unique, scary experience. I can see why "Phantasm" has become such a classic of the genre. For me, this film remains a nice little piece of spooky and original nostalgia, and I'm glad my mom decided to scare the daylights out of me with it at such a young age, because I grew to love this movie later on. 10/10.


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