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.

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  • ★★★★ review by Todd Gaines on Letterboxd

    Mike is a little kid who lost his parents in a tragic accident a couple years back. His hero is Jody his super-cool bell bottom jeans wearing older brother. Together along with Reggie the most gangsta ice cream truck driver known to man they must fight an evil like no other. A dark evil. A spooky evil. An evil that is beyond evil. This evil is known simply as The Tall Man. One of the creepiest villains ever in one of the oddest but awesomely awesome horror films ever made. Graveyard bump n' grind. Tit touch. The first time you see The Tall Man. Creepy funeral parlor. Bionic strength. The score is freakishly similar to Halloween. Badass Jody. Mike's dirt bike riding skills. Grandma's glasses. Reggie is quite possibly the only non-creepo ponytail sporting guitar playing ice cream truck driver in the history of cinema. Barroom pimpin'. Why do people enjoy fucking in graveyards? A bed or kitchen counter will do the trick. Panty mouth. Bootleg Tatooine Jawas. Angus swag. I want to drive Jody's car. Fuck! The Tall Man is one scary motherfucker. Hammer time. Slow Timmy. Jody's Stones t-shirt. Mike's curiosity. Casket peek-a-boo. Silver spheres ain't no joke. I would run like a motherfucker if The Tall Man was chasing me. Yellow blood? Finger box. I'm pretty sure these fucked up creatures are the types of shit you hallucinate when you're on strong acid. Garbage disposal nightmare. Always shoot to kill a motherfucker. Jody's steady aim. Car chicken. Mike drives a car like a boss. Reggie's bow tie and vest. Everybody talks like they're high as a kite. Top hat baddie. Tall Man stroll. Jawa carjack. Tall Man snatch and grab. Tall Man giggle. Is it ever fun to ride in the back of a hearse? The bond between Jody and Mike. Reggie the Fearless. Windy wind. Ice cold stab. Tall Man snarl. The last motherfucker you want to see at your window. Fuck fear! Boobie trap. Giant rock. Fireside chat. Don Coscarelli's Phantasm is so much more than a psychedelic horror film. It introduced the world to Angus Scrimm's iconic Tall Man character. His screen time is limited but his legend is infinite. Phantasm is also a film about grief and how we cope when extremely shitty things occur beyond our control. Mike has been to hell and back and through his grief we get to truly experience the monster that is The Tall Man. This is one of my all-time favorite films and I can't recommend it enough.

  • ★★★★★ review by Ian West on Letterboxd

    In the early to mid 90's I was an expert at sneaking around my Dad's VHS collection... one day while in extra snoop mode I came across something he had taped off tv... in big block letters read "PHANTASM". I thought it the coolest word ever so, as inquiring minds do, I looked it up in our dictionary and BOOM... There was no way I wasn’t totally going to watch this mysterious sounding spectre of movie.

    I was the perfect age to watch Phantasm, roughly the same age as our main character Mike, maybe even a little younger. I kept asking myself why he lived with his brother and it dawned on me... his parents were dead. My comprehensions of death up to that point were non existsnt. That moment, along with a death in my family pinpointed my understanding that once you're gone, that's it, you don't come back. You can imagine the effect that had on a young preteen.

    By that time I was already a fan of Halloween, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street, but this one was different... the creepy sci-fi factor, little jawa dudes, mausoleums, bald hero with a ponytail and an ice cream truck, flying death spheres, creepy Tall Man, the soundtrack, and the insanely forboding atmosphere filled with surreal nightmare fuel at every turn absolutely drove my young imagination wild—and honestly, it still does. This is an all timer for me, containing a prime example of dreamy atmosphere that I go nuts for... sleepy lingering dread, the waking nightmare.

    In a weird way every revisit feels like staring into a pictureshow time capsule of what it felt like to be young and all the soon to be dangers of adulthood in the form of a tall, lumbering spectoral reaper of innocence. Yeah, I love Phantasm.

  • ★★★★★ review by Tony the Terror😼 on Letterboxd

    I had this rated at 4.5 stars and I’m so sorry, I don’t know what I was thinking because this is without a doubt a 5 star masterpiece of surreal nightmarish 70’s cinema and it has possibly the best atmosphere of any horror movie made during a time known for amazingly atmospheric horror movies.

    I can’t remember the first time I saw this, but I think maybe the reason I didn’t give it the full 5 before was because I just hadn’t seen it in a while and I had sort of forgotten exactly how beautifully surreal and disjointed this is. Watching it during my heavy drug days was certainly a fun time, but it really didn’t help me in remembering, well...anything actually.

    There are some major heavy Italian vibes during parts, especially that brilliant score. The whole movie is great, but that final twist is completely perfect. The Tall Man was a terrifying figure when I was younger and honestly he still creeps me out, especially during that damn perfect last scene. Perfect!

    Can’t wait to revisit all the sequels because this whole series is good...and because duh they’re sequels.

    Bananameter: 🍌 “BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOYY!!!!!” 🍌

  • ★★★★ review by Naughty aka Juli Norwood on Letterboxd

    Foreboding atmosphere that sparks a heaviness in your chest! The menacing tall man and the wicked sphere of excruciating and untimely death are the stuff of myths, legends, nightmares or tripping for that matter and I'm not talking about tripping the light fantastic or fandango! Anywho it's from the 70's so I'm leaning toward the latter!

    This flick scared the bejesus outta me back in the day! Messed me up something awful and contributed to my deathly fear of cemeteries and pasty white complexioned morticians!

    An original film that influenced future horror films and many horror film directors! So big props go out to writer and director Don Coscarelli for giving us something that keeps us up all night long tossin and turnin and checking under our beds!

    With that being said and having seen the film tonight it looks and feels dated! Some of the special effects weren't so special after all lol! And why does the acting seem so much lamer now than back then! Regardless of the outdated effects and other superficial flaws.. the film still kicks like a mule!

  • ★★★★ review by DirkH on Letterboxd

    I love how this film makes no sense.

    The plot basically follows the premise of boy discovering evil in hometown and tries to fix it. As simple as that sounds, it truly does not do justice to the completely bonkers nature of the narrative. It is anarchic, creative and bizarre.

    The danger here is of course that refusing to make sense will just frustrate your audience and at this it probably succeeds marvelously. But give in to the creepy atmosphere and you'll be eagerly awaiting what weirdness Coscarelli will come up with next.

    A villain called the Tall Man, flying metallic orbs with knives, spontaneous songs, people turning into Jawas from Star Wars, the worst opening sex scene ever, mysterious babes with knives, fingers turning into evil flies, it's all there.

    And I'm not ashamed to say that I love it to bits.

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