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Phantasm (1979)

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

Director:

Don Coscarelli

Writer:

Don Coscarelli
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2,868 ( 322)
2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
A. Michael Baldwin ... Mike (as Michael Baldwin)
Bill Thornbury ... Jody
Reggie Bannister ... Reggie
Kathy Lester ... Lady in Lavender
Terrie Kalbus Terrie Kalbus ... Fortuneteller's Granddaughter
Kenneth V. Jones ... Caretaker (as Ken Jones)
Susan Harper Susan Harper ... Girlfriend
Lynn Eastman-Rossi ... Sally (as Lynn Eastman)
David Arntzen David Arntzen ... Toby
Ralph Richmond Ralph Richmond ... Bartender
Bill Cone Bill Cone ... Tommy
Laura Mann Laura Mann ... Double Lavender
Mary Ellen Shaw Mary Ellen Shaw ... Fortuneteller
Myrtle Scotton Myrtle Scotton ... Maid
Angus Scrimm ... The Tall Man
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Storyline

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.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Where the dead are no longer that way... See more »

Genres:

Horror | Sci-Fi

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for nudity, violence, and intense scenes | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

28 March 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Morningside See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$300,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$11,988,469
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono | 4-Track Stereo (Visurama)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

To get the inspiration needed, Don Coscarelli spent a couple of weeks in an isolated cabin in the mountains outside Los Angeles while writing the script. See more »

Goofs

(at around 56 mins) The Volkswagen originally faces the overturned ice cream truck, but when Mike breaks through the back window and the car takes off, the ice cream truck has disappeared. 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

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 »

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 »

User Reviews

 
Imaginative, Bizarre, And Thoroughly Entertaining.
15 July 2006 | by materlachrymarumSee 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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