In addition to establishing Don Coscarelli as a giant of American genre cinema, his original 1979 cult-classic PHANTASM spawned an entire franchise and now a remastered re-release (under the watchful eye of J. J. Abrams). In addition to establishing Don Coscarelli as a giant of American genre cinema, his original 1979 cult-classic PHANTASM spawned an entire franchise and now a remastered re-release (under the watchful eye of J. J. Abrams). On Monday, October 24 we’ll be bookending Coscarelli’s newly remastered PHANTASM with the latest (fifth!) installment in the series, PHANTASM: RAVAGER, a fitting franchise finale that reunites many of the original cast and features a final performance from late actor Angus Scrimm.
See one, or see them both!
PHANTASM is a surprisingly artful and imaginative horror film, an impressive film for 23-year-old director Don Coscarelli who worked with a miniscule budget to create a small masterpiece. When Mike (Michael Baldwin) spies some sinister Jawa-like creatures stealing corpses from the local cemetery, he and his older brother Jody (Bill Thornbury) explore the mausoleum, where they find that the mortician (Angus Scrimm), a towering, emaciated figure with superhuman strength, has somehow bridged the gap between Earth and the afterworld and needs fresh corpses. Among the tools of his trade is a flying Swiss army pinball that bores into the skulls of its hapless victims then extracts their brains. Their allies die off one by one, until only the brothers are left to defend humankind against the nefarious “Tall Man” and his army of shrouded dwarves. While the film does contain a fair amount of graphic violence, the gore is never gratuitous and, relative to other movies of its day, is used rather sparingly. The effects are fantastic as is the highly stylized direction; the result is a memorable chiller with more than its share of genuine shocks.
“Strong point of the feature is that it’s played for both horror and laughs.” (Variety)
“Extremely gory. Horror fans should delight.” (Empire Magazine)
“One of the definitive ’70s horror pictures, in the last few months before ’70s horror got steamrolled into oblivion… a raw blast of sensory information.” (Antagony & Ecstasy)
PHANTASM: Remaster (Don Coscarelli, 1979 / 18 A / 88 mins) Artful and imaginative, PHANTASM follows the story of a young boy and his friends finding themselves facing off against a mysterious grave robber with an arsenal of terrible weapons known only as “The Tall Man.”
PHANTASM: Ravager (David Hartman, 2016 / 18A / 100 mins) The cult favorite PHANTASM series comes to close as Mike and Reggie join forces across time and space to finish off the Tall Man once and for all.