Phantasm (1979)

DVD Cover (Anchor Bay)
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Overall Rating 63%
Overall Rating
Ranked #2,250
...out of 12,525 movies
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Connections: Phantasm

A young boy and his friends face off against a mysterious grave robber known only as the Tall Man, who keeps a mysterious arsenal of terrible weapons with him. --TMDb
Review by Tristan
Added: July 22, 2007
Jody, Reggie and Tommy are friends. Unfortunately for Tommy, old rules don't die. Premarital sex is just a no-no. Especially in a graveyard. Even more so, when after you're done the woman plunges a dagger into your belly. Yeah, I know. Shit happens. As far as Mike and Reggie know, Tommy killed himself, but we all know otherwise. Just before the funeral, we get our first look at the "Tall Man" as he's known. During the funeral procession, we see young Mike, who's Jody's younger brother, wandering around with a pair of binoculars, but still keeping his eye on the funeral. Their parents had just recently passed, so Jody felt it would be better to keep Mike away from all of that. After the ceremony ends, and everyone has gone home, Michael watches as the Tall Man pulls the casket out of the ground, load it into a hearse, and drive away with it.

Sure it's weird. But not as weird as Mike visiting a fortune teller who speaks through her granddaughter, where he rattles on about his abandonment problems. As it would seem, he's afraid of Jody leaving him, and is always following him around when he leaves the house. Oh, and did I mention he watches his brother "do the nasty"? Well, he does.

Mike's suspicions get the better of him, so he returns to the Morningside Cemetery, to see what this Tall Man business is all about. After getting caught breaking into the funeral parlour, his punishment, or attempted punishment is quickly ended, as that familiar silver sphere with a drill and blades on it punches into the caretaker's skull. Mike runs away, but the Tall Man and some evil Jawas are hot on his heels. There's something rotten going down at this Morningside Cemetery, and it's up to Mike to figure it out.

I know, what a cliffhanger. Well this movie doesn't have much set up, so I felt it best to give you the basics, and let you see for yourself. Aside from now, I hadn't seen this movie in probably 8 years. It scared the hell out of me then, and now I couldn't help but laugh at it. It's a somewhat decent storyline, wrapped up in a quick 90 minutes, and with some of the most atrocious acting I've ever seen. Not to mention some pretty horrible ideas. A 13 year old who drives like a professional stunt man? His older brother owns an Army issue Colt and a pump action shotgun, and they're just lying around the house? If you add up all of these different variables, you get Phantasm, a mediocre film which has somehow gained a cult status.

I'm not really sure why I didn't like it. It had the potential, and there were a few decent scenes and some unique ideas. I think it's mainly the acting that ruined it for me. Aside from the Tall Man, who honestly didn't have to do much, everybody in this movie was horrendous. The fact that there was 3 sequels, and supposedly a 4th on the way, baffles me. I won this movie along with a few others in a Anchor Bay, now Starz Entertainment, contest and I'm very glad that I got to see it again, and not pay for it. Unfortunately, it was nowhere near as good as I remembered and I don't really recommend it to anyone, unless you've got a thing for watching the horror classics of the 1970's and 80's.

Cryptorchild #1: Cryptorchild - added 07/27/2007, 02:46 PM
This movie is a classic. Suprised it only got a 6 but to each their own. Wasn't expecting the ending but I still enjoyed the whole movie. 8.5/10.
Crispy #2: Crispy - added 02/09/2010, 01:40 PM
Great potential pissed away with shitty acting and a massively incoherent plot. Agnus Scrimm is the only shining light here, and like Tristan said his role is pretty limited.
Chad #3: Chad - added 03/06/2010, 05:30 PM
I liked it more than some of you, but I agree that it's no classic. The "incoherent plot" was intentional, at least it seemed that way in my view: they seemed to be going for a dreamlike atmosphere for the entire film (building to the ending), and Coscarelli specifically stated that this was supposed to feel like watching a nightmare. I thought it succeeded and I really enjoyed pieces of it, but again, a classic it isn't. 7/10 sounds about right.
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