PLOT: After a funeral, a teenage boy uncovers an evil plot perpetrated by the local mortician and his minions of interdimensional dwarves.
I was surprised to learn that writer-director Don Coscarelli grew up in America (despite being born in Tripoli), because this film has the vibe of films made by Italian filmmakers like Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci. The art direction and deaths have a decidedly European vibe to them, especially when you finally get a peek inside the Tall Man’s mortuary.
The story revolves around Mike, a teen whose brother returns home to attend a friend’s funeral. While spying on the funeral, Mike observes a mysterious mortician, which leads him to uncover an interdimensional conspiracy that involves dwarves and grave robbing. Along the way, his brother Jody and their ice cream truck-driving friend help him to try and stop whatever it is The Tall Man is up to.
I didn’t love this movie; I bet this movie has a nostalgia appeal for some people that watched this movie for the first time when they were kids, but for me, it’s just okay. The filmmaking is fine and the effects work, more or less, but the plot is a bit nonsensical or unresolved. Like, what exactly is the Tall Man up to and where does the hot blonde fit in with his plan? Is he banging her? I need to know these things.
Additionally: fuck that ending.
There’s a cool scene where a flying mirror ball implants itself into some guys face and drills a bunch of holes. Otherwise, it is pretty bloodless.
Gore Rating: 3 out of 5
It’s not particularly scary; Angus Scrimm is a cool villain, and his Tall Man seems to be a sort of precursor to the Slenderman, but maybe I’m just imagining that.
Scare Rating: 1 out of 5
We’ve got the Lady in Lavender that likes to go to Bone City in the middle of a graveyard. That’s pretty cool.
Sex/Nudity Rating: 3 out of 5
Stylistically, this movie is pretty cool. The art direction of the mortuary’s basement looks like something out of an Argento movie. Otherwise, Phantasm is just okay; I could see this film maybe working for the younger teenage crowd. I could even see this being a nostalgia trip for kids that came of age around that time; it could be the first set of boobs some kids got to see on late night television or on VHS in a friend’s basement, but for me, a man of 32 in the year 2017, it’s surprising to me that this movie got so many sequels. It’s an okay movie, but it’s not particularly memorable and the ending is a disappointing out that didn’t need to be taken.
Overall Rating: 5 out of 10