Phantasm was probably the last of the great, classic horror franchises that I had yet to watch. I didn’t really know anything about the plot other than there was a tall guy and some sort of silver orb that would stab your head. This is also apparently the only thing that the movie knew about the plot, given that it just sort of meanders around introducing and dismissing characters and plot points at will. I should have known when I saw that it was made in the 70s. Goddamn you, 70s horror. You did it to me again.
The opening of the movie should have tipped me off that this was going to be less than well thought out. We open on a couple having sex in a graveyard. The guy finishes, thanks the girl, and then she stabs him but not before we get some gratuitous breast shots. Turns out the girl was the Tall Man? Which means that Tall Man can actually, physically turn into other stuff considering the guy managed to have sex and finish so it wouldn’t have just been an illusion. Which also means that our main creepy villain goes around seducing guys and not just so he can kill them but so he can get humped first? I mean, sure, that’s kind of novel but still just a bit weird.
The rest of the movie follows Mike, a teenager that can’t help but obsessively follow his brother, Jody, around. Turns out the guy that got stabbed in the beginning was a friend of Jody’s and they mention it was ruled a suicide, which is hilarious that some coroner would be like “Welp, looks like a stab wound to the gut and he was found in the woods with his dick out and no weapon around. Open and shut suicide to me!” Anyway, at this point Mike sees the Tall Man steal the coffin after everyone leaves the funeral and he doesn’t bother to tell anyone. At this point, he begins to be menaced by Jawas when he tries to peep on his brother about do sex up the Tall Man in his “I’m a sexy lady” form. This fucking movie.
The whole movie plays out like the world’s most poorly paced fever dream. Mike escapes from the Tall Man by cutting his fingers off and he apparently bleeds butterscotch pudding. Also the finger that he takes as evidence to show his brother turns into a hairy, spider/fly thing which prompts the dumbest “wrestling with a jacket” scene as they try to contain it. The iconic silver death ball appears twice, 2 fucking times, in the whole movie and the second time it just gets shot out of the air like a clay pigeon. Aside from getting to be a pretty lady the Tall Man can also make you see things or maybe dream things or possibly he can just make things happen. It’s incredibly vague and ill-defined. Which is fitting.
I’d give this movie a 2 out of 5 and only giving it that much because its entirely nonsensical plot was at least crazy enough to be halfway interesting.
Favorite thing in the movie: “I just don’t get off on funerals, man. They give me the creeps.”
Least favorite thing: I know I only briefly mentioned it but the “Jawas” (actually shrunken dead people in robes) are a major menace in the movie on par with the Tall Man. Also, Star Wars came out 2 years earlier and they had no excuse. These were just straight-up Jawa rip offs.