on 30 May 2015
Two brothers and there friend decide to investigate a creepy "tall man" undertaker, when it seems he is connected to killings and deadly sliver spheres.
Highly atmospheric horror thriller that'll keep many genre fans enthralled. Encompassing several horror elements including, supernatural, zombie, sci-fi and even stalk'n'slash and doing a very good job in all. The biggest standout is the very creepy atmosphere that the film maintains throughout, the brilliant soundtrack adds to this, its understated but always there and makes its presence known when needed. The set-pieces are another strong point, the attack sequence in the car is excellent and very intense and scary as is the climax, the low budget was used very well, not made for much but it does have a bigger budget feel and standard that many of its contemporaries don't. Acting wise everyone does a fine job, A. Michael Baldwin as our young hero stands out as does (quite literally) Angus Scrimm as the the malevolent "tall man". The writing and story are decent particularly in the first half where the story unfolds very well but after 30-35mins the story becomes far less interesting, the set-pieces and pace never let up and the scares do keep coming but for me the story just couldn't hold as much interest and my mind did start to wonder as the less enthralling supernatural element became more prominent.
A very good horror with much to admire (especially young director/producer/editor Don Coscarelli), more mass appeal than might be initially thought, although there is a fare bit of blood it's far from extreme of offensive and can be easily enjoyed. Placed on the Section 3 nasty list probably because of the sphere's gory brain drilling sequence's, but with the authorities at the time it could have been the cemetery romance that offended them!
on 22 March 2013
Don Coscarelli created a fantastic series of horror films with the Phantasm series, these films would definitely appeal to those who are looking for something different within the sci/fi horror genre. If you like low budget cult sci/fi horror films then your going to love this. 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. His well-crafted cuts in specific tension- filled scenes helped to heighten the emotion of fear and pending doom in the film. It was only his third film and he was 23 years old when he made it.
While spying on his older brother at a friend's funeral, Mike (A. Michael Baldwin) notices strange things happening at Morningside Cemetery. He witnesses a Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) picking up a full coffin and placing it back into his hearse. Unable to convince his brother Jody (Bill Thornbury) and the local ice cream man Reg (Reggie Bannister) about what he saw, he heads out to do a little investigating on his own. He discovers that their local mortuary hides a legion of hooded killer dwarf-creatures, a flying silver sphere of death, and is home to the sinister mortician known only as the Tall Man. The first film while it does have a little gore in it, mainly focuses on the dark and moody atmosphere and it has a surreal style, there's also the possibility that it wasn't real but a bad nightmare, great stuff.
Phantasm II begins right after where the first film left off. The freaky dwarfs have invaded Mike's home and Reggie must foil the Tall Man's attempts at kidnapping him. Flash forward seven years and Mike is in a mental institution. He is released upon admitting that the whole Phantasm experience was made up only to find that in his absence the Tall Man has been plundering many of America's small towns and thousands of graves are empty. As before, the Tall Man is the best thing in the film. Angus Scrimm is so wonderfully silent and unholy that no matter how slick and entertaining the rest of the film is he'll come out on top. This also being one of those great 80's sequel as it's filled with more action, blood and gore and humor.
Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead is a pretty inventive and fun sequel. Following Part II, this time Reggie (Reggie Bannister) is continuing his search for the Tall Man to stop him from his deadly work. Mike (Michael Baldwin) is captured by the Tall Man after falling into a coma, and now it's up to Reggie to save him. With the help of Jody (who is mainly in the form of a silver sphere now) and some others that he picks up along his journey, including a young boy named Tim (Kevin Connors) and a woman from the Army, Rocky (Gloria Lynne Henry), Reggie begins a relentless search for the Tall Man's current location, where he has Mike, and what he plans to do with him. A different but very entertaining entry, "Phantasm III" is a very fun film. Although a couple of scenes felt abit ridiculous there were some cool scenes especially with that demon nurse. Phantasm IV is the weakest of the series. Despite the intriguing and effective integration of unused footage from the first film and some nifty location work, it remains too unfocussed. In terms of atmosphere and suggestion, Phantasm IV scores rather well, with Mike's in-car visions and Reggie's initial encounter with the phantom patrolman proving genuinely creepy, but the rest of the film lose steam quickly and becomes a bit dull. No doubt about it, Anchor Bay has done a great job with this set, it has a ton of great features and the discs all feature DTS tracks and commentaries, plus a well specified bonus disc which includes Phantasmagoria, a feature-length look at the making of the series, starting with Coscarelli's first films Jim the World's Greatest and Kenny & Company, which then takes us through all four Phantasm films in some detail. I highly recommend this.
I hadn't seen this for more than 25 years, so to watch the DVD on a big widescreen TV was a real treat. The film has many good points: Its errie atmosphere, the unexplained spheres and in fact the general surreal nature of the goings on. Especially the portal to another world scene. Its also well photographed, the special effects for 1979 look good and on DVD the picture is mostly very sharp and it looks great.
On the downside the script does the actors no favours, and there is some very wooden acting going on!
But I enjoyed the film and will watch it again and would probably give it 3.5 stars if allowed.
on 14 May 2002
The film takes place in a quiet seemingly innocent town. Jody (Bill Thornbury) and Reggie (Reggie Bannister) are attending a funeral at morningside for their best friend Tommy who apparently killed himself. Jody's little brother Mike (Michael Baldwin), who wasn't supposed to attend watches the proceedings from a distance with his binoculars. After the services Mike sees more than he bargained for. A mysterious Tall Man arrives in a hearse and picks Tommy's coffin up by himself and loads it into the hearse with his bare hands. Mike, bewildered by what he saw, rides out of Morningside in a hurry, but not before being spotted by the Tall Man.
Mike visits a psychic living in the neighborhood and confesses to her about what he saw at the cemetery. The psychic tells Mike that it was all in his mind and that fear is the real killer. Still not convinced, Mike begins to notice strange things and decides to break into Morningside at night and spy on it's occupants. After encountering the Tall Man and his minions, Mike narrowly escapes and returns home. Mike tells Jody about the horrific things he saw at Morningside and that they have to do something. Jody, reluctant to believe his little brother, is finally convinced when Mike shows him his evidence. Now its up to Jody, Reggie and Mike to figure out the nature of the Tall Man and stop him.
on 15 February 2016
The first film in my opinion. is easily the better of the three, but it is good to be able to watch all three as they fit together as one, and for me at least I understand and appreciate more each time I view. The box is a superb fold in mechanism and the artwork is very pleasing to the eye. At the price something to own, watch and cherish
on 2 October 2001
Phantasm rates as one of the better lower budget horrors of the latter 70s.Released at the tail end of 1978, Phantasm has now gone on to acheive cult status within the horror movie fraternity.The story revolves around two orphaned brothers who happen to live near a cemetry, where all manner of sinister occurrences have become common place. Events begin to take an ominous twist for the brothers when a close friend meets a mysterious demise.During the funeral, the younger brother notices a giant undertaker known simply as the Tall Man,played to great effect by Angus Scrimm, single handedly lifting a casket and loading it into the back of his hearst and driving away.In true horror film style, the curiosity of the boy gets the better of him and decides to investigate-oh dear.As expected, his meddling opens up a can of worms he wished he hadn't.Within the cemetry, all manner of ghoulish events await those who dare to enter. Resurected corpses, blood thirsty hooded dwarves reign terror, and perhaps one the most memorable forces of evil being a metal ball with protruding spikes which flies through the air mercilessly pursueing its prey before draining the victims of their blood.Phantasm has spawned a number of sequels, although being credible films in their own right, none can ever equal the masterful original, which even by todays standards over twenty years on remains a true testament of classic horror movie making. Aside from the excellent story, spine chilling moments and a truly fantastic nemesis in the shape and form of Angus Scrimm, who lends a great deal of presence to the role as the maniacal undertaker,is in my opinion among one of the best on screen foes the horror genre has seen, the film's soundtrack score is also worthy of praise.All in all, Phantasm has the lot. Oh, I haven't even mentioned the ending, well I wouldn't want to give to much away, but its a great finale-one which leave your nerve endings shot. Phantasm truly is a classic of its time, when you consider the film's limited budget and distribution via a small independent production company-it has certainly stood the test of time. So be prepared for a rollercoaster ride of thrills and moments to make you cringe in the dark.Beware of the tall man.
When you think of horror, usually you think of gore, ghosts and/or slashers.
But Don Coscarelli introduced an eerier kind of horror in "Phantasm" -- the kind that flies at you in little metallic balls and drills into your head. This low-budget horror movie quietly worms its way into your soul and exposes all sorts of little fears -- of death, loss, undeath and creepy old men -- while also spooking you with the horrors that you can't even identify.
While his older brother Jody (Bill Thornbury) is at a funeral, Mike Pearson (Michael Baldwin) sees something odd outside the funeral home -- an old man (Angus Scrimm) casually lifting the casket and singlehandedly slinging it into a hearse. Soon Mike is being stalked by the Tall Man and his gibbering, dwarfish minions in their hooded cloaks. Think undead Jawas, but much, much more primally horrifying.
Of course, Mike tries to tell Jody and their old friend Reggie (Reggie Bannister) what is going on, but they believe that Mike is just reacting to his brother's impending departure. So he sneaks into the Morningside Funeral Home, and comes back with the Tall Man's still-moving, yellow-bleeding finger. Finally convinced, Jody and Reggie help defend him from the Tall Man -- but what they find lurking with him is more ghastly than they could even imagine.
Reportedly Don Coscarelli originally wanted to adapt Ray Bradbury's "Something Wicked This Way Comes," but the rights weren't available to him. So instead he crafted a movie out of his own nightmares. After all, the best horror movies are about more than the trappings -- they are the ones that tap into primal terrors that lurk in the shadows of your soul, and frighten you with the unnerving wrongness of everything that is going on.
Coscarelli directs the whole film in an oddly dreamlike manner, with lots of floating voiceovers and eerie marble halls. But the dream slowly turns into a nightmare, where scuttling things come out of the dark and collapse cars on you, or drag you screaming into the graveyard. Even the pleasantly shabby 70s home isn't safe from anyone. And the climax is terror of a different kind, especially when Mike sees where the Tall Man and his minions come from.
All the actors in this were relative newbies to the craft, but they give excellent performances -- Michael Baldwin as the gawky, inquisitive teen who adores his cooler older brother, but dreads his impending departure. The fear of loss and death permeates the entire story, underpinning the whole role of Mike. He clicks well with Bill Thornbury, who has the disbelieving-older-sibling role down without being a jerk about it.
And of course, Reggie Bannister and Angus Scrimm. Bannister isn't the central character as he is in later Phantasm films, but he gives a nice, solid, everyman performance as the boys' rock. As for Scrimm... he's every creepy old guy you ever saw in your life, encapsulated into one lanky unblinking creeper.
One slight flaw, though: the box scene. It's ripped directly from the beginning of "Dune" (it even has the same message -- I started babbling about fear being the mind-killer) and it honestly baffles me why this scene as-is is in the movie.
Don Coscarelli made a horror movie like no other with "Phantasm" -- an eerie, freaky movie haunted by the horrors that you usually can't see. You won't see anything else like it.
on 7 April 2012
Old school fantastic-horror of the 'is this all a nightmare?' narrative playground. The first has low budget, no, i mean proper low budget not the modern equivalent, late seventies & early eighties low budget constraints. Thus, enthusiasm & imagination must rule the day to carry the flick. Oh does it..
If the following films develop & expand the themes of the first film, of varying budgets & demands, still there is a consistent drive to each one. Give the viewer a playful midnight movie, draw 'em in, let 'em roam about, throw some crowd-pleasers at 'em. In the form of the Tall Man, the floating spheres that drill and spill blood, the femme fatales, the dwarves, the ice-cream vendor, the creepy soundtrack..
One of those flicks commonly assumed to be categorised as either really like it/really fall into the world-view, or don't even bother throwing your popcorn. In many ways a better nightmare in four 'variations' than that Elm Street nonsense. The deft playfulness & indie film-making need no mainstream veneer to sell it, nor an attempt to make it's bogeyman palatable. Recommended pleasing entertainment of a gothy driven drive-in. And in this box set within the special features you also get every facet of production given air-time & everyone involved seemed to have a blast..which shows throughout the four films.
on 30 November 2015
Great set of movies.the old ones are the best.great value and delivery was good.scary and also a bit funny.the "tall man"was creepy and weird.if you like classic horror movies then give this a look
on 13 October 2014
The most arthouse mainstream sci-fi/horror hybrid ever committed to celluloid finally arrives on a shiny disc, and the wait has been worth it!
For die-hard "Phans", this release is everything that they could've hoped for, and much, much more; for the uninitiated, it's the perfect point of entry into the bizarre world of The Tall Man and his minute minions.
To even try to submit a synopsis of the movie, and it's more than acceptable sequels, here would be an exercise in futility...the features contained within this frankly stunning package are more about implication and nuance than they are a linear, coherent storyline.
Fans of David Lynch will revel in the surreal atmosphere conjured up by the underrated Don Coscarelli, whilst admirers of Seventies cinema will no doubt enjoy the movie's Grindhouse aesthetic.
Weird, wonderful, exciting and essential...It'll change the way you look at grave yards forever! :)