Don Coscarelli’s ‘Phantasm’: Jinkies, What a Great Movie! (movie review)

Mike (A. Michael Baldwin) and Jody (Bill Thornbury) are brothers who have recently lost their parents. When Jody’s friend Tommy dies, they discover strange goings-on at the funeral home. Seems the proprietor, known only as the Tall Man (Angus Scrimm), is stealing corpses and reanimating them (and shrinking them, for some reason) so they can be his slaves on another planet. Thanks to their constant meddling, Jody, Michael, and their friend Reggie (Reggie Bannister) are next on his list.

phan4
“Dink-dink, dink dink dink dink dink dink…”

When I see the plot written out, it sounds ludicrous. Indeed, it is rather silly. But my major complaint is that sometimes there doesn’t seem to be a unified plot—it seems like just a series of events; Jody and Michael go to the funeral home, they run away, they go back individually, they run away, etc. It would have made a dynamite episode of Scooby Doo if the Tall Man had been trying to scare them away from a diamond mine.

phan2
“And I would have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn’t for you meddling kids!”

However, the film has a number of saving graces. The score is eerie—there’s no trace of ‘70s dorkiness. The special effects are okay; they were top-notch for 1979. Then there are the Tall Man’s silver balls—his weapons, that is. If you like gore, they’re pretty groovy; they fly around and attach themselves to a victim’s head and drill. There’s even a practical hole in the back to let out the consequent big spurt of blood. Last but not least is the scene that made #25 on Bravo’s 100 Scariest Movie Moments:

Despite not having seen this movie until a few years ago, I feel the same affection for Angus Scrimm as I do for the other horror movie actors I grew up watching (and crushed on) like Robert Englund and Tony Todd. Maybe it was the photo shoot he did with them a while back for Fangoria magazine. At any rate, he does a fine job. If you’ve seen it, keep loving it. If you haven’t seen it, check it out—it’s a classic.

phan3
“You stole fizzy lifting drinks! You bumped into the ceiling, which now has to be washed and sterilized, so you get nothing! You lose! Good day, sir!”

Published by GhoulieJoe

I wuvs the horror movies and like to write snarky reviews about them. I also included some pretentious as hell microfiction (don't worry, it's at the bottom).

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