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Phantasm (1979)

 -  Horror | Sci-Fi  -  28 March 1979 (USA)
6.9
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 19,977 users  
Reviews: 252 user | 139 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 you're looking for horror that's got balls...IT'S FOUND YOU. See more »

Genres:

Horror | Sci-Fi

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

28 March 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Fantasma  »

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

The 1971 Plymouth Barracuda was chosen because Don Coscarelli remembered a guy in high school had one, and was a little envious of him. A Barracuda was made to look like the Hemi 'Cuda. Though in one scene you can see the designation of 440-6 on the hood. Indicating the car had a 440, with a "six pack" (3 two-barrel carburetors).Bill Thornbury then took the car to a friend of his and had it custom striped so it felt like it was really his car. The true purpose of the car was so the brothers Mike and Jody could have a means of bonding. In fact, A. Michael Baldwin learned to drive in that car, he was only 14 at the time! After the movie was finished, the car was sold, and to this day nobody is sure what really happened to it. As a result the black Hemi 'Cuda became just as much of a hallmark to the series as the chrome spheres. See more »

Goofs

At the beginning of the movie when Mike is joy riding on his motorcycle through the cemetery, the tracks of the trailer towing the motorcycle are visible in the grass behind him. See more »

Quotes

Mike: First he took mom and dad, then he took Jody, now he's after me.
Reggie: Mike, that tall man of yours did not take Jody away. Jody died in a car wreck.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Connections

Referenced in Horror Business (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

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

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Another Horror Classic, And With Good Reason
5 March 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

A teenage boy (Michael Baldwin) stumbles upon a plot by a very tall mortuary worker (Angus Scrimm) to steal dead bodies and turn them into midget slaves for an alien world. With the help of his brother (Bill Thornberry), the boy hopes to cut the tall man down to size.

Many years later, Don Coscarelli is now seen as a master of horror and Angus Scrimm somewhat of a horror icon (though to a lesser degree than, say, Robert Englund). While the plot I have outlined above may sound silly, the actual execution of this idea makes it clear why this film has really lodged itself in horror history and spawned numerous sequels (all starring Scrimm).

This film captures the feeling of the late 1970s and early 1980s horror with the young boy stumbling upon a plot of large, sinister proportions. Horror geared towards the youth of a generation who have parents who may not believe them (or in this case, an older brother). I really like this theme, much like "The Goonies", "The Monster Squad" and "Lost Boys" -- a kid's film without being childish.

"Phantasm" has become known for the silver balls, and believe me -- when Angus Scrimm puts one of his balls in your face, you won't be happy about it. A bloody mess is all you will get! I really enjoyed the effect of this (remember, this is 1979 when effects still took some creativity).

Now, some things I did not understand. For example, why are the midgets bleeding macaroni and cheese instead of blood? And more importantly, why does the tall man have to transform into a woman to stab people in the cemetery? If he is super strong and has those silver balls, he really does not have to be very sneaky about the whole ordeal, does he?

Some of the acting is cheesy -- people deliver their lines in a way that sounds forced, and Jody (the older brother) looks like he belongs behind the wheel of the General Lee. And Michael spends half the film looking like a girl. (I have met the entire cast, and I can assure you that Baldwin grew out of this phase.)

But, seriously, check this film out. Roughly in the same time period as "Halloween", you are left with a similar feeling. Only this one is more light-hearted and "feel good" and less "the embodiment of evil". I suppose it depends on your personal taste or your mood for the day. Myself, I like a little bit of the unusual thrown in to a movie just to keep me guessing.


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