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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Phantasm Review

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One of the most underrated, yet brilliant horror films of the last 40 years has to be Phantasm. After the death of their parents, 24 year old musician Jody Pearson is raising his 13 year old brother Mike in a small town disturbed by the mysterious deaths of its citizens.
Reggie, an ice cream vendor, joins the brothers in their suspicions that the local mortician, dubbed "The Tall Man", is responsible for the deaths. Mike relays his fears to a fortune teller and her granddaughter about the possibility of Jody leaving town, and Mike in the care of his aunt along with the suspicions of The Tall Man. Mike is shown a small black box and told to put his hand into it. After the box grips his hand, Mike is told not to be afraid and as the panic subsides, the box relaxes its grip. The notion of fear itself as the killer is established and is what propels Mike towards his final confrontation in the film with The Tall Man. Phantasm is a "Thinking Mans" horror movie, if you don't pay close attention you can miss crucial plot points. While the film itself can be a bit confusing, the antagonist, aptly named The Tall Man is straightforward. I have seen Angus Scrimm in his other roles but I firmly believe his greatest was as The Tall Man. His size, evil sneer, and the way he delivers dialogue can still make the bravest of moviegoers tremble. While the film had a great cast, two of its biggest stars were not human. Jody's 1971 426 Hemicuda showed up in this and the sequel and of course we have the iconic silver cranial spheres. Originally Phantasm was given an X rating because of the sphere scene coupled with a scene of a dead man urinating. However, the X rating was overturned and Phantasm was released as an R rated flick. All around, Phantasm is a great film and has become one of my favorite horror movies ever. It may require multiple viewings to really understand the story, but it's worth it.