Phantasm blew my 11 year old mind. The mysterious undertaker ran a creepy marble-walled funeral home by day, and robbed graves by night. Why does he rob graves? Obviously, it’s to further propagate his dwarf army. The dwarf army is composed of former full-sized humans that were dug up and experimented on. The gray-haired man in black is the Tall Man (Angus Scrimm), and demented villain of otherworldly proportions. Literally.
Director, Don Coscarelli, uses cheesy special effects and atmosphere to his advantage in Phantasm. The Jerry-rigged effects are cheesy at times, but it all lends itself to the film’s allure and charm. In my opinion the first two Phantasm films are the only good ones, the rest are watered down franchise failures, something horror fans are surely used to. The film suffers from some ham-fisted acting, no surprise for relatively new actors back in the 70’s. Still, all things considered, this is a dark, but fun horror film. This is the first film to feature those freaky flying spheres, something that left an indelible mark on my developing brain when I ten. I didn’t see this movie again for years, but elementary school discussions always involved the spheres, that thick yellow blood, and midget corpses.
Phantasm would get higher marks if it expanded on the Tall Man mythology succinctly. We don’t know much about the Tall Man or his home world. I understand how vagueness serves a villain in horror, but this is vague to a fault. Despite some weak points, Phantasm is a cult classic worthy of its status.
I love the synopsis.
A young boy and his friends face off against a mysterious grave robber known only as the Tall Man, who keeps a mysterious arsenal of terrible weapons with him.