A group of scientists have developed the Resonator, a machine which allows whoever is within range to see beyond normal perceptible reality. But when the experiment succeeds, they are immediately attacked by terrible life forms.
Mike, a young teenage boy who has just lost his parents, afraid to lose his brother follow him to a funeral, where Mike witnesses the Tall Man lifting a coffin on his own. Mike decides to investigate, and discovers that the Tall Man, protected by his flying spheres, is shrinking dead bodies down to half their normal size and reanimating them as slaves. It is then up to Mike, his brother, and Reggie the ice cream man to stop the Tall man.
In 1980, Magnetic Video released the full length 90-minutes long version on video, with a difused glow throughout the entire film. In the latter part of the 1980s, the film was issued again on video, but one sequence (which takes place in near complete darkness in The Tall Man's glowing white room) was accidentally edited out by the people supervising the film to video transfer. This version of the film ran 87/ 88 minutes in length. When Phantasm was issued on DVD in the late 1990s the scene was restored, but the colour balance and the soft diffusion was corrected, which I think robbed the film of some of its atmospheric effect. My review is based on Magnetic Video's 1980 release.
This haunting, dreamlike hallucination of a movie was written, directed, photographed, produced and edited by Don Coscarelli, it doesn't make much sense but it's still a great bit of fun to watch with the lights turned out. This kid named Mike convinces his older brother Jody that there is something weird going on at the local cemetery. So he and Jody break into the old mausoleum and find out that it's actually some kind of factory where people are killed by a flying metal ball, crushed down to a height of about 3'2", dressed up like little monks and packaged up into round metal garbage cans and shipped off for use as slave labour in some other dimension. A dimension ruled and resided over by the six and a half foot tall mortician (known throughout the entire ordeal as just simply "The Tall Man") working at this cemetery. When The Tall Man kills another friend of theirs, they decide to put and end to him, or at least try to.
This movie has many different layered meanings, over the years some people have said that it's a reference to corporate America coming in (in the form of The Tall Man) and killing off everyone (by turning everything into a 'business') and some have said that this movie is also about a kid's loss of innocence and fears about everyone around him leaving (or in this case dying) Whatever the hell this movie is about, it's still great fun, followed by a couple of really disappointing (and belated) sequels.
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