Phantasm is both one of the most enduring and one of the oddest horror franchises. Or is it sci-fi? Fantasy, maybe? The first film was released 38 years ago and the fifth – and reportedly last in the sporadically produced series- released late in 2016. Last month, the entire saga was released as a deluxe Blu-Ray Box Set [Amazon] making it a great time to revisit this often overlooked gem.
The films are the passion project of writer/director Don Coscarelli [IMDB], who also gave us the cult classic “The Beastmaster” [IMDB] and the wonderfully mind-bending “John Dies at the End” [My Review]. He once described Phantasm as “barely linear”, a characterization that some might call generous. The films are a loose mixture of original ideas, interesting imagery and budget-induced compromise.
See the review of “April Apocalypse” on our sister site, MoreBrains.com dedicated to all things zombie!
“Logan” on IMDB
Drama/Action/Sci-fi, 137 Minutes, 2017
Before we begin, we must recognize the true hero of this story: Chatty-guy-behind-us. When the movie was sneakily attempting to foreshadow something or self-indulgently tried to build a moment, Chatty-guy was there for us! He heroically defused the tension from key scenes and selflessly, loudly kept us informed of events happening directly in front of us on a giant screen.
That boy deserves a medal. A god-damned medal.
See the review of “Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead” on our sister site, MoreBrains.com dedicated to all things zombie!
“After the Dark” on IMDB
Drama, 104 Minutes, 2013
The purpose of some films is to make the audience think; to provide discussion topics. They lay out rules, set up pressures and obstacles then examine the reactions of their ridiculously verbose characters. Success might be measured by the time the audience spends discussing the problems posed. It might also result in a violent argument with dear friends!
“The Autopsy of Jane Doe” on IMDB
Horror, 86 Minutes, 2016
Tommy Tilden (Brian Cox [IMDB]) is thrilled that his son, Austin (Emile Hirsch [IMDB]) is following in his footsteps. He’s been the county coroner for many years and has earned his reputation as a perfectionist. When the local sheriff finds a perfectly preserved corpse with no outward signs of trauma lying serenely among the tattered victims of a multiple… homocide? Suicide? Accident? – he goes to Tommy for answers.
“Kubo and the Two Strings” on IMDB
Fantasy/Adventure/Family, 91 Minutes, 2016
This is the fourth feature from the stop-motion geniuses at LAIKA. Following “Coraline” [IMDB] in 2009, the small studio has fallen into a comfortable two-year release schedule with “ParaNorman” [My Review at MoreBrains.com] in 2012 and “The Boxtrolls” [My Review] in 2014 and now this in 2016. Each and every film is a modern classic and “Kubo” is no different.
“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” on IMDB
Fantasy/Adventure/Family, 127 Minutes, 2016
Ransom Riggs’ best-selling debut novel seems tailor made for Tim Burton’s [IMDB] off-kilter sensibilities. Most children are normal, some are odd, some are gifted and some very few are peculiar. Peculiar children might be as strong as a dozen men, be lighter than air or able to start fires with their hands. Such children are cared for by the Ymbrynes, magical women who create isolated loops in time to protect their wards.
“The Babadook” on IMDB
Horror, 93 Minutes, 2014
Some children – let’s face it – truly deserve to be devoured by whatever monsters can be coaxed under their beds. Samuel (Noah Wiseman [IMDB]) may be one of these. He drives his poor mother, Amelia (Essie Davis [IMDB]), to the brink with his paranoia and the contraptions he concocts to defend himself. Alone, and never truly recovered from the tragic death of her husband, his mother simply cannot cope.
Comprising four films since 2002, including the 2016 remake of the original, Cabin Fever is one of the lesser known horror franchises. One of the purest examples of the “body horror” genre, the stories revolve around a mysterious, never explained virus that slowly, grotesquely liquefies the flesh of its victims.
Eli Roth’s [IMDB] inspiration for the original film, his first, came after suffering a severe skin infection while on vacation. Unfortunately, Hollywood had lost confidence in the horror genre and the script was roundly rejected for several years. After a resurgence of interest in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, the film was completed on a shoestring budget of $1.5 million. Picked up for distribution by Lion’s Gate, it became their highest grossing property, and the highest grossing horror film overall, of the year, with nearly $22 million in domestic sales.