House of Horrors Presents


I hate to admit it, but I have only just become a fan of the "Phantasm" series. I remember as a kid that the movie just didn't sit right with me. This was probably due to the fact that my house was originally the town morgue and my bedroom was where they stored all the dead bodies before embalming them. Guess the whole story line kinda creeped me out and I never took the time to watch the movie completely. I would see it in bits and pieces and it never really made any sense to me. But lucky, I have always been open to suggestions. And after receiving tons of email about when I would be adding "Phantasm" to The Vault, and actually meeting and partying with the guys (Angus, Reggie, Bill, Michael, Don), I decided to give it another chance. And boy! I am glad I did.

So as I stuck the videotape in the VCR, I have to admit I had my doubts. Rarely, do films get a second chance with me, because I think first impressions are so important. But in this case I was wrong.  So as the film began and the theme kicked, I felt at ease. I knew the rest was pure horror movie magic and I wasn't disappointed. So what was it about "Phantasm", this time around, that  warranted its position in The Vault?

One of the things that I always loved about "Phantasm" was the theme. Even from my limited viewing of the film as a kid, I always considered it a classic horror soundtrack. The music was used so effectively to heighten the dark atmosphere of this film. The composers of the soundtrack were Fred Myrow  (Soylent Green) and Malcolm Seagrave. Today, the use of the soundtrack has definitely gotten away from the use of the classic score. Instead, they are dotted with the "pop groups of the day." Rather than using the score to enhance the film, Hollywood uses it to make a fast buck. One question for the "phans", what song samples the "Phantasm" theme? Email me, because I would like to know.

Second,  I liked the mixture of sci-fi/horror. I've gotten a ton of emails when I posed the questions, "Can you have horror in a sci-fiction setting and vice versa?" I agreed with the fans, for the most part, that sci-fi and horror can go hand in hand. "Phantasm" is the first sci-fi/horror film that I have examined in the House of Horrors. "Phantasm" did an excellent job of melding sci-fi themes into the world of horror. I guess one of my initial turn offs with this film was the similarities between the "the killer midget monks" and the "jawas" from "Star Wars". At first, I thought this was just a fast way of cashing in on the immense popularity of "Star Wars", only to find out that Don Coscarelli (writer/director) had come up with the concept of these evil little mutants a full year before "Star Wars". He actually though about taking them out after hearing about their similarities. Lucky, he didn't and their presence in the "Phantasm" films have become my favorite parts.

Third, I liked the "Tall Man". Angus Scrimm’s performance as the "Tall Man" in "Phantasm" has definitely served as a trademark role in establishing him as one of the all-time greatest horror villains. He is the epitome of true evil. He is not the "one-lining" madman of say "Freddy Krueger" or the "slash at all costs" maniac like "Jason". Rather he is the manifestation of the grim reaper.

Finally and probably recognized as being as big a part of the "Phantasm" series as the "Tall Man" is "The Ball". Otherwise known as the "sentinel", these ultimate killer watch dogs have offered us some of the more memorable scenes of gore. These flying spheres of death and destruction have a mind of their own and no one, not even the "Tall Man", is exempt from their wrath. I love the tagline for "Phantasm 2", "The Ball is Back".

Don Coscarelli did an excellent job with "Phantasm". His well-crafted cuts in specific tension- filled  scenes helped to heighten the emotion of fear and pending doom in the film.  It was only his third film and he was 23 years old when he made it. It amazes me how someone so young could make a masterpiece such as this film. But a lot of the classics were made by young directors such as "Evil Dead", "Night of the Living Dead", "Halloween", "Dead Alive" and "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" just name a few. I guess these young directors are more willing to take chances and do not get as bogged down by the games that Hollywood plays.

As always please e-mail me if you have anything you can add to this page, or if you have any comments, criticisms or suggestion.

 

Phantasm

phan·tasm (fan-taz-em) "a dream, a nightmare, a sense of unreality, something in a place where it shouldn't be".
                                                              ~Don Coscarelli (director)

While spying on his older brother at a friend's funeral, Mike (A. Michael Baldwin) notices strange things happening at Morningside Cemetery. He witnesses a Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) picking up a full coffin and placing it back into his hearse. Unable to convince his brother Jody (Bill Thornbury) and the local ice cream man Reg (Reggie Bannister) about what he saw, he heads out to do a little investigating on his own.

But beware, because around every corner flying spheres, fingers that turn into killer insects, and midget monks are waiting  for our three heroes as they try to figure out what the Tall Man is up to. It ain't a simple case of a necrophilia, my friend, but rather a calm, cool, and calculating "grave robber from another world".  His calling is much higher, for he is replenishing the workforce of his desolate world (?), but damn, the benefits suck! Not only are you brought back to life, then crushed down to three feet, pumped full of some yellow fluid, and dressed to look like a "Jawa", but worst of all... you become a slave on some hot ass planet without any vacation time. I say cremate me.

But wait! Was it all a dream???? That is a question that every viewer of "Phantasm" has to answer. Check it out and let me know what you think.

 


  • The uncut version is banned in Germany.

  • It was filmed on the weekends over a one-year period in 1977

  • The Mortuary dissolve effect is actually an element of the Star Trek transporter effect.

  • Called "The Never Dead" in Australia.

  • If you look at "The Tall Man" in the final scene, you will notice that he has short hair instead of the long hair that he has throughout the rest of the film.

  • Angus Scrimm ("The Tall Man"), whose real name is Rory Guy, is actually a journalist for several magazine such as TV Guide and Cinema Magazine. He has written liner notes for the likes of Frank Sinatra and the Beatles, and even has won a Grammy for his work. But he will always be "The Tall Man" to me!!!!!

  • Angus Scrimm is 6' 2". Different camera angles and smaller sized clothing was used to make him look even taller.

  • When it was released, critics dubbed the "Ball", the "first computerized vampire."

  • The killer dwarves were original going to be played by "little" people, but instead Don Coscarelli used his neighbor's kids.

  • Wilbur Green, the designer of "Sentinel" died mysterious a few weeks after the sequences for the balls were shot.  He never got to see his work, the "ball", in action on the silver screen.

  • The Mortuary set burned down during filming and had to be rebuilt.

  • A Special Edition DVD of "Phantasm" is out.  It  contains all the features of the SE Laserdisc released a few years back.

  • MPAA originally wanted to cut down the "ball" scene because they found it too gory. Don Coscarelli was able to convince the President of the MPAA to change the ruling by showing that cutting the scene down made it more horrific.

  • The exterior shots of the Mausoleum at Morningside Cemetery were actually of the Dunsmuir House and Gardens in Oakland, CA the same house that was featured in the film "Burnt Offerings".

 



Click on box cover for these recommendations

Phastasm 2Phantasm 3: Lord of the DeadPhantasm IV: Oblivion

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"Phantasm" pages.

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Buy Phantasm on DVD at Amazon.comiconicon

Checkout Rotten Cotten's Phantasm T-shirt

Checkout the new House of Horrors t-shirt for sale now 

Visit the official PHANTASM webpage at Phantasm.com

Visit Reggie "The Ice Cream Man" Bannister's official page.

 

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