Why’d I Buy It?: Well it’s fucking Phantasm isn’t it?
Why Haven’t I Watched It?: I know… I KNOW (Pt.2)
How Was It?: Well it was fucking Phantasm wasn’t it?
Phantasm is a pretty great, thoroughly strange little film. The only horror film that bases itself off of the fear of Extra Dimensional slavers who moonlight as undertakers who appear in your dreams. And also their Jawa slaves. That I know of anyway.
It tells the story of a pair of siblings living together after their parents death. Things are interrupted when one of the older brothers friends dies. This second brush with mortality as well as an encounter with a plucky indie rock fan with a terminal illness leads him to complicate his life before ultimately learning to love his brother and comes to terms with-. Oh wait, no, that’s every indie movie since The Garden State. In this one a Tall mortician turns the the deceased friend into a dwarf and sells him to another dimension for slave lavor. The tall mortician also likes throwing deadly sapient silver balls at people.
This is an odd little movie folks.
With it’s long take sequences played past the logical breaking point, cheery music interludes, and occasional bracing blasts of surrealty, Phantasm resembles nothing so much as a splatter punk film made by Richard Linklater (I mean check the scene of Reggie and the elder brother just hanging out on the porch playing music). It’s dreamlike, bordering on lackadaisical.
This paired with the same strange “Hard R Kid’s Film” Feel of the People Under The Stars, makes this feel like the sort of movie one would conceive if one had a giant doobie sticking out of one’s mouth.
I was prepared for how crazy Phantasm would get, but it’s unabashed indieness was a nice surprise. The film was shot over the course of two years by an extremely game cast. And in every frame it is obvious that it is a labor of love. It has that handmade feeling, akin to Evil Dead and the better films of Charles B. Pierce that make the film really endearing. I mean, for all the gore, bodies drained of blood, and extra dimensional beings who bleed yellow goo Phantasm is a strangely mellow movie.
The cast does a fine job. The most famous being Reggie, the ice cream man/demon slayer. I love that Reggie isn’t made into some Ash like super warrior. But instead plays the role of as a kind of dim bulb townie really good at taking things in stride. Whether they be Evil Insects who sprout out of severed fingers and survive a garbage disposaling, or Tall Undead Necromancers who Scream “BOOOOOOOOYYYYY!!!!!”
Don Coscarelli shoots with his trademark mix of warped imagination, wit, style deadpan charm and matter of fact plotting. If the film proves anything, it’s that he’s the perfect man to bring the blue collar horror madness of John Dies At The End to the big screen.
While I can’t say that it has become an all time favorite. Phantasm is a thoroughly winning little film. Charming in just about every way.