inspired the Slender Man internet meme-hoax-phenomenon and the name of Captain
Phasma in The Force Awakens. J.J.
Abrams is indeed a fan, which is why he offered his Bad Robot production
company’s facilities for the 4K restoration. The original that spawned four
sequels (as of now) has been spruced up, yet it still looks appropriately of
its era. The creepiness and raw potency remain as strong as ever when Don
Coscarelli’s Phantasm: Remastered (trailer here) releases today on
DVD and BluRay, from Well Go USA.
Mike Pearson has had a hard time dealing with his parents’ death. He idolizes
his shaggy-haired grown musician brother Jody, to a degree that may not be
healthy. Understanding his brother’s issues with death and separation issues,
Jody instructs Mike to avoid the funeral of his recently deceased bandmate, but
he watches anyway—through binoculars, while hidden in the woods bordering
Morningside cemetery and mausoleum. That is how he happens to see the sinister
funeral director (a.k.a. The Tall Man) pick up the casket and carry it back to
the mortuary, rather than burying it after the service.
first, Jody dismisses his younger brother’s weird claims as the product of his
troubled psyche, but Mike soon retrieves some pretty compelling evidence to
change his mind. Unfortunately, the Tall Man is onto Mike’s snooping by this
of the knocks on Phantasm I is that
the narrative does not make much sense, but frankly, it seems reasonably coherent
compared to some of the postmodern pretensions and micro-budget schlock hailed
and forgotten in the thirty-seven years since its initial release. Granted, the
ending is a bit of a head-scratcher. Yet, it still kind of works in the context
of the film’s themes.
horror fans will agree Coscarelli hit the trifecta in three key aspects. One is
the casting of tall, menacing Angus Scrimm as the iconic Tall Man. He just
radiates malevolent power. Secondly, late metal-crafter Will Greene’s designs
for the flying, brain-drilling Sentinel Spheres have truly become the stuff of
nightmares. Finally, the locations, including the exteriors shot at Dunsmuir
Mansion outside Oakland, really evoke foreboding and dread.
A. Michael Baldwin and Bill Thornbury do not get the credit they deserve for
their work as Mike and Jody Pearson. Their brotherly relationship really is at
the heart of the film. Little things also jump out at viewers when they revisit
Phantasm with fresh eyes, like Mike’s
wall-sized NASA moon poster, reminding us of the idealism so many had for the
space program in the 1970s, which suits the character so well.
a 1979 release, Phantasm was part of
a banner year for film, sharing company with Alien, Rocky II, Life of Brian, Mad Max, Apocalypse Now, Love at First
Bite, and Tarkovsky’s Stalker.
This is an under-recognized golden year—and Phantasm,
the scruffy indie that could, becomes its genre capstone, in retrospect. It
still holds up, feeling eerily familiar, like a suspicious face we recognize
but cannot identify. Very highly recommended for all horror fans, Phantasm: Remastered releases today (12/6)
on DVD and BluRay, from Well Go USA.
Labels: Angus Scrimm, Don Coscarelli, DVD, Horror Movies, Phantasm franchise, Well Go USA