Noun :1 A figment of the imagination.An apparition or illusion.
2 An illusory likeness of something.
As mentioned in my previous post, I am going to be looking at all four of the Phantasm movies, looking at each of them individually and giving reasons why I love this series of films. I know the Phantasm movies are pure "Marmite" films, as in you either love them or hate them. There is no middle ground. I am in the former category. The whole dream like quality and the fantastical elements instantly made me fall in love with this series. Anyway...Lets begin with:-
Some people consider this film a confusing, disjointed mess. Perhaps, but it still has the power to be incredibly creepy and made on an incredibly low budget, blends many different genres of movies into a horrific masterpiece.
The original film is written, directed and shot and edited by Don Coscarelli and is definitely one of the most "out ther " movies I have ever had the pleasure of watching.
The original Phantasm tells the story of twelve year old Michael, who has recently lost his parents , and latches onto his brother Jody, following him everywhere, even to the cemetery to watch his brother make out.
But something strange is going on at the cemetery, and the mausoleum within. Something with cloaked dwarf like creatures and a sinister looking tall man.
I remember watching this film many years ago when it was shown on TV in the UK and it really didn't sit well with me. It confused me and although the feeling of the film was that of a horror, the use of dimensional travel and the sight of a red planet all gave this film a Sci Fi feel too.
A few years later, I came across the movies again and my curiosity got the better of me and I bought the whole collection. Watching the first film again, it looks amazing for its time. The characters (most of them portrayed by non actors) are played well, with Reggie Bannister providing comic relief and Angus Scrimm's Tall man a truly creepy and menacing villain.
The music is another thing worthy of mention, very reminiscent of Fabio Frizzi or John Carpenter, the theme for Phantasm is another in a long line of amazing horror theme tunes.
Yes, the movie has a dreamlike/nightmarish quality, but just look at the meaning of the word Phantasm. It tells you everything you need to know in the title.
The second of the phantasm movies takes everything seen in the first movie and increases the weirdness factor tenfold. This movie is set ten years after the original movie. After Michael is released from psychiatric care, he tracks down Reggie and they set off again in an attempt to stop the Tall Man. This film definitely increases on everything the original had and ups the weirdness even more, and we even get to see the dwarf like creatures in action a lot more.
This film has more balls, more special FX and a faster paced story than the original. This really is my favorite in the Phantasm series of films as the weirdness is upped considerably and the film is incredibly nightmarish, with the Tall Mans monstrous creations taking center stage.
This film had the largest budget of all of the Phantasm movies, and I for one love KNB's special FX in the movie giving the film an even more fantastical edge than the original. The feel of the movie is fast paced, never giving you a minute to breath up until the amazing conclusion. Check it out.You may not like it, or you may discover an amazing little horror movie. What have you got to lose???
Something about this movie doesn't seem right. I don't know what it is. It feels as though all the horror has been replaced with tongue in cheek humor and action sequences.
Michael apparently has spent two years comatose in hospital, when his brother appears to him in a dream and tells him he isn't ready to cross over into the light yet. Reggie comes to visit and is attacked by a demonic looking nurse and so begins the third film of the series.
This film sees Reggie Bannister become the main character, which is no bad thing but it does bring the comedy to the forefront of the movie which I feel hurts the movie.
Looking back, I still feel no different about this movie. I feel it is much more of a comedy and is played for laughs, and it certainly doesn't continue the trend set by the first two movies (whether that's a bad thing, well, I'll leave that for you to decide).
The forth movie in the franchise manages to answer a lot of questions left unanswered in the previous movies, but also manages to bring up a lot more. The film makes use of scenes not used in the previous Phantasm movies, but also contains a lot of newly filmed footage.
The film is basically Michael traveling through the dimensional forks, learning much about the Tall Man and it really does manage to capture the spirit of the original Phantasm.
It is confusing, it is incredibly dream like and in all honesty I didn't find it that enjoyable.
That isn't to say it isn't a good film. It just felt like it was a made for TV movie. It feels incredibly cheap (which I assume it was, and this is no bad thing), but the constant jumping back and forth left me confused. Still worth a shot if you enjoyed the previous three movies but I certainly wouldn't be recommending it as a stand alone movie.
Thank you again for taking the time to read my thoughts.