Saturday, 30 April 2011


I feel slightly weird, as a pretentious film geek, to admit that I am also a major horror nerd. Be it the junky exploitation-type movies or...errrr...the arty exploitation-type movies, I have always loved horror. I don't know how to explain it - I enjoy them all differently, be it the stunningly crafted, yet visceral Inside (A L'interieur), The trashy, yet ultimately goods-delivering Hostel films, or the warped and troubling Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. Horror is largely ignored as part of the "speculative horror ghetto" by old-school film critics, and I, along with others (Heyyyyy Moviebob) feel a little obligated to give these genres a little more respect. And I'm going to start here.

Phantasm, a movie released around the same time as Halloween, is another in the canon of at-the-time shocking pre-slasher movies. Directed by Don Coscarelli, who'd go on to direct The Beastmaster and Bubba Ho-Tep, and who is currently working on an adaptation of John Dies At The End (Mental note: AWESOME), it told the story of the citizens of a small town who come under attack by The Tall Man, a malevolent alien disguised as an undertaker. While simple in narrative structure, it does create some pretty good characters, and you care about a lot of these people throughout the film. In particular, the little brother character is one of the few kid characters in horror to this day who wasn't so annoying you wish death upon him.

The film-making is pretty unremarkable here. The photography is perfectly serviceable, the effects are...surprisingly solid, given both the budget and the period. Fortunately, whether it's just a product of the progress that's been made or just how it turned out, this is one of those horror movies which pulls of hilariously cheesy without being so-bad-it's-good; it's not a bad enough movie. The sheer fucking lunacy of this film vastly overshoots its more serial-killerish contemporaries. This movie contains, and I'm not kidding here, flying death-spheres which harvest people's brains to make zombie midgets. That's just a taste of the almost cartoonish madness that this film has up its sleeve.

So, if you're looking for a horror movie you can enjoy both ironically and sincerely (and you've already seen the sublime Behind The Mask: The Rise Of Leslie Vernon) Phantasm is definitely worth a watch.

P.S. Over the last few days, I've gotten A LOT of traffic from America, among other places. Kari's too. Was I linked on another film blog or something? 


P.P.S. I just found a recipe for BeaverTails. One of the many things I miss about Canada.

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