31 Scary Movies: ‘Phantasm’

“Phantasm” (1979) – After watching Don Coscarelli’s film about a strange mausoleum executive – unofficially named The Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) – and his best practices that don’t end in the best results for his customers, one can only conclude the writer/director marches to the beat of his own drum.  Well, you know what they say about geniuses?   Not that “Phantasm” is a genius film, because it’s not.

No one in this movie behaves like an actual person would in real life.

Many of the scenes seem thrown together, accompanied with awkward actor interactions and camera positioning.

Individual events don’t seem to have a purpose, other than to either burn screen time or to flash a lasting, bizarre image.

A few key actors (A. Michael Baldwin, Bill Thornbury, Reggie Bannister) inexplicably spend copious amounts of time driving on two lane highways – and include an ice cream truck as one of the said vehicles – in a movie that is stationed at a mausoleum.

The film also carries the production values of a clunky Saturday-morning, live-action staple like “Shazam!” (1974-1976).

Add a flying metal ball with a jagged edge that looks for its next victim, and geez, nothing really makes a whole lot of sense.

In short, “Phantasm” is kooky madness.

With a mix of a couple massively intense highlights and loads of unintended humor, “Phantasm” makes for an entertaining midnight movie like “Troll 2” (1990) or “The Room” (2003).

Coscarelli’s film may not be genius, but it is highly memorable.  You’ll know that you are experiencing a special film, when Reggie (Bannister) asks Michael (Baldwin) and Jody (Thornbury), “This guy isn’t going to leak all over my ice cream, is he?”

Oh, we hope so.

Image credits: AVCO Embassy Pictures; Trailer credits: Zero Media

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