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.
J.J. Abrams, co-writer and director of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, revealed in an interview published in Entertainment Weekly that he came up with the name of the Captain Phasma character after seeing its chrome design: "It reminded me of the ball in Phantasm." See more »
After Reggie makes the physical connection between the two nodes on the gateway, he falls backward onto the floor. In the letterbox edition, the ropes used to pull him back toward the gateway are briefly visible as he falls. See more »
Now, remember: you don't aim a gun at a man unless you intend to shoot him. And, you don't shoot a man unless you intend to kill him. No warning shots. Hey, you listening to me? No warning shots. Warning shots are bullshit. You shoot to kill, or you don't shoot at all.
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The cable TV version has a extra text in the credits that reads "enter the Tall Man's Mausoleum if you dare at www.phantasm.com" See more »
There are two things that stand out in this film. The Tall Man (played by Angus Scrimm) and the chrome sphere with hook-like blades that stick out of it. Those are the two main elements when it comes to this horror series directed by Don Coscarelli.
The Tall Man comes from another dimension where he takes some of the earth's dead back to his home planet, reincarnates them and turns them into slaves for his world. He even occasionally murders some earth people in order to speed things up. Why wait for them to get old and die natural deaths. That would take too much time, right? And what better earth profession he can hide his identity behind than that of a funeral parlor director.
Everything goes smoothly for the Tall Man until Mike Pearson (Michael Baldwin) witnesses him carting a body away that's supposed to be buried in the ground. At first his brother Jody (Bill Thornbury) doesn't believe him, but when Mike shows him a cut-off finger surrounded by 'yellow blood' in a little wooden box he had saved as proof, Jody starts to believe him.
Excellent scene of the chrome sphere zooming down the funeral parlor hallway and 'accidentally' digging into the skull one of the Tall Man's henchmen. A little screw appears out of it and starts to bore a hole through his skull, ejecting the excess blood out a hole in the back of the sphere. I wish there was more of the sphere although we'll get to see a lot more of it again in PHANTASM II (1988).
I also like the portal gateway scene where if you go through the two chrome poles, you'll get to see the Tall Man's alternative universe where the slaves are busy carrying caskets down a stone pathway. We even get to see Ice Cream Man, Reggie Bannister almost get sucked through it as well.
I won't give away the ending but let's just say the Tall Man is temporarily disposed of until the next sequel comes out, although the dream element that's supposed to encompass the whole sequence of events in the film, is a big negative against it. In fact, it brings it down a notch, unfortunately.
Even so, I consider PHANTASM to be one of the best horror films of the 1970s. It managed to keep Avco/Embassy in business so they could bring us later horror stuff like ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK (1980); THE FOG (1980) and DEAD AND BURIED (1981)
The MGM DVD also has a lot more extras on it than you would expect from other DVDs released by the same company, including 8mm behind-the-scenes footage of the making of PHANTASM; a 1979 interview down in Miami with director Coscarelli and Angus Scrimm; an appearance at a 1989 Fangoria convention by Scrimm, and movie & TV trailers for the film.
It's a labor of love by the truest fans of this film.
7 out of 10
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