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!
“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.
“Infini” on IMDB
Sci-fi/Horror, 110 Minutes, 2015
In the future nearly everybody on Earth lives below the poverty level, forcing people to take dangerous work. Mankind has implemented faster-than-light travel via a technology called “slipstreaming”. Matter is broadcast, somehow, to a specific point in the universe, where it’s reconstituted. It can then be called back at any time. This process is rife with danger and is extraordinarily error-prone, often leading to “data corruption”.
“Norman” on IMDB
Comedy/Drama, 99 Minutes, 2010
Similar to 2011’s excellent “The Lie” [My Review], this explores how the pressures of life can sometimes force good people to make poor choices and, ultimately, how they deal with the consequences. Here, snarky, unpopular high-schooler Norman (Dan Byrd [IMDB]), has recently dealt with the death of his mother and is now watching his father (Richard Jenkins [IMDB]) succumb painfully to stomach cancer. When berated by a schoolmate about his recent flakiness, he blurts out that he has cancer.
“Hardcore Henry” on IMDB
Action/Sci-Fi, 96 Minutes, 2015
Films have toyed with first person perspectives for decades, usually only in small doses. Thrillers show us what the killer sees while horror and sci-fi let us stalk the heroes through heavily filtered monster-vision. Heat-vision, night-vision, x-ray-vision, robot-vision and whatever-vision have all been simulated time and again. It’s an effective gimmick, but can it carry an entire film?
See the review of “Rammbock” on our sister site, MoreBrains.com dedicated to all things zombie!
“The Lobster” on IMDB
Drama/Comedy/Romance, 118 Minutes, 2015
Remember the pain of the last time you were dumped? That feeling of betrayal and loss? How you’d mope around the house until the police came to take you to The Hotel where, if you didn’t find a suitable mate in 45 days, you’d be turned into the animal of your choice and let loose in the woods?
“The Boy” on IMDB
Thriller/Horror, 104 Minutes, 2015
Motels are creepy. Alfred Hitchcock knew that in 1960 when he set his classic thriller Psycho [IMDB] in one. By their very nature they’re nowhere. After all, if you were somewhere, there would be a hotel, right? Motels are where people end up when they can’t get where they’re going. Motels are awkward, uncomfortable, and far from people or the hope of help.