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Imaginative, Bizarre, And Thoroughly Entertaining Films.,
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This review is from: Phantasm 5 DVD Box Set [DVD] (DVD)
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.