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.
Phantasm is possibly my favourite film of all time.Why? It's not about the budget or the hype of a film, but mainly about how this film makes me feel. Phantasm director Coscarelli crafted a little gem of a horror movie that has bought me more enjoyment than any major Hollywood film I can remember. I first saw Phantasm as a kid in the 80's and it has stuck with me ever since. It was great to rediscover this film on a beautifully mastered DVD.
For me, Phantasm combines a nightmarish quality that few horror movies achieve with a nostalgic trip back in time to the late 70's. The central theme is that of young Mike being abandoned by his brother Jody, and overcoming his fears. The cryptic nature of the Tall Man's presence adds to the tension, and Myrow's eerie soundtrack is the perfect finishing touch.
Like a nightmare, there is no explanation or attempt to pander to desires for a logical conclusion. The little touches such as Jody and Reggie's jam session add to the homely feel of this movie - it's like a well worn pair of jeans. It's crystal clear that no studio executives were in the editing room at the last minute, trying to turn Coscarelli's vision into another mediocre horror film . For the director, this film was clearly a labor of love. Coscarelli is still an outsider from the Hollywood system. I am grateful that he hasn't been sucked into turning out mediocre movies for major studios but has stayed somewhat true to the original spirit of Phantasm.
Many of the comments here on IMDB criticize the film for weak FX and poor acting. When viewed in the context of a genre film made by young industry outsiders for $300,000 in 1979, I think the technical values are exceptional. Critics who claim otherwise have no idea of the work involved in the process of creating a movie, especially before the advent of video.
I've seen Hollywood blockbusters made for many millions of dollars with great technical values, and yet I can't think of one that I can enjoy time and time again like this film. If you consider yourself a fan of horror movies, you owe it to yourself to own this classic on DVD.
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