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.
We’re wrapping up Peggapalooza with Simon Pegg’s [IMDB] latest. Of course, he reprised his role as Scotty from 2009’s Star Trek [IMDB] and 2013’s Star Trek: Into Darkness [My Review], but he also co-wrote this installment. The reboot of the first film left fans cautiously optimistic. The second left them worried. How will this fare?
When the fine, funny people at RiffTrax decided to take their special brand of snark to theaters across the country we knew two things:
They were clearly both very smart and very lazy for doing so via satellite instead of actually, you know, driving around.
It was going to be insanely, amazingly awesome.
The first show, August 20, 2009, was “Plan Nine from Outer Space” and this was followed up regularly with a small herd of super-cheese staples including “Reefer Madness”, “Manos: The Hands of Fate” and the modern, solar-powered classic, “Birdemic“. To do bigger movies, they’d need more money. Being that special combination of smart/lazy/awesome they left that part up to us. A hugely successful KickStarter campaign gave us an amazing evening with “Starship Troopers“.
So, after another successful KickStarter and nearly five years from that first show, they brought us Roland Emmerich’s 1998 character assassination of “Godzilla”. In it he accused the Big “G” of being an asexual, hermaphroditic, tunnel-crawling, no-fire-breathing, Jay Leno-looking mutated iguana. It got what it deserved and it was hilarious.
Broadcast by Fathom Events to hundreds of theaters across North America (the good America) the shows bring together thousands of fans and and some high-quality father/son time. I’ve seen “Guardians of the Galaxy“, but this – Roland-freakin’-Emmerich’s Godzilla – is still the most fun I’ve had in a theater all year.
Before I get into the movie I’m going to begin with a totally harmless spoiler about the end-credit tease. It has nothing to do with the main plot of the movie and I won’t give anything meaningful away. Sometimes coincidence can blow your feeble brain.
In celebration of its 15th anniversary, MTV has put together an oral retrospective of this classic. In “Galaxy Quest: An Oral History” they interview the cast, the crew and the creators to paint an intensely interesting narrative of how the movie was made.
Why the hell not watch this today? You think it’s some kind of cliché? Something that displays a lack of imagination? Well, what the hell are you watching, if you’re so smart? Some kind of weird foreign movie with a smart script, interesting story and no explosions?
If you liked “Gravity” (my review) then you’re a smart, discerning and, if I may say, strikingly attractive individual. You’ll also love “Europa Report”. The movie presents a highly realistic space mission; in this case a multi-year, multi-national mission to Europa, Jupiter’s sixth moon. All our (actual) evidence indicates that Europa is home to massive, warm water-oceans under its geologically active crust of ice. It’s generally understood to be our best legitimate shot of finding extraterrestrial life in the solar system.
[Wife and kids are away and I’m catching up on movies.]
Film nerds are likely aware that this film marks the third, or “Green Mint” flavor, of Edgar Wright’s [IMDB] acclaimed, but only tenuously related, Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy. The film stars Simon Pegg [IMDB] as Gary King, a rather sad forty-something that continues to ride the questionable glories of his high-school heydays, and Nick Frost [IMDB] as Andy Knightley, his former best friend who has since cleaned up, straightened out and made something of himself.
This really wasn’t such a bad idea but tell me, Stephanie Meyer fans, does every single, blessed thing she writes involve a blank, emotionless girl in a love triangle? Is it a new genre, like Dub Step or dinosaur porn, that I’ve just been blissfully unaware of?