Monster Reviews: Phantasm 1979 – 40th Anniversary

When it comes to the greatest horror film of all time, Don Coscarelli’s 1979 classic is in the running. It is a frightening fantasy with one of the most iconic and unforgettable slashers the genre has to offer, The Tall Man.

Celebrating its 40th anniversary this month, it is only right we pay tribute to a film that spawned 4 sequels, over 37 years. The all to the recent passing of Angus Scrimm in 2016, has left a huge hole in the horror genre and in our hearts. Luckily, we got one last film with the iconic Tall Man, although fans feel the series did not receive a proper ending and that Phantasm: Ravager was an unsatisfying finish to the most consistent film franchise in the genre.

The 1979 Coscarelli masterpiece is a brooding, dimension jumping, monster fighting, gore-filled classic. It is one of the most complete and flawless old school horror films out there. It is honestly one bad ass piece of cinema and the most fun you can have, watching a horror film. It brings out your inner child and gives you that youthful jolt we all look for from time to time.

The story is absolutely unlike anything else. It is such a twisted and sad tale, full of wonder and imagination. The performances are amazing, as well as the directing, makeup, and music. The costumes are phenomenal and still the best out there. The gore and yellow mustard colored blood (embalming fluid) really adds a creepy ambiance to the film and give it that fantastical vibe. It is a thing of pure beauty.

The sets are spooky and intimidating. They really give the film and dark and macabre touch. The dialogue with sincerity really causes you to be a part of the film. It allows you to escape reality for a while and lose yourself in another world. That is what a good film should do.

The acting is top-notch, despite the film appearing a little rough and rugged around the edges at times. That’s just a product of 70’s film making and a reflection of that time. However, the essential four main actors all give legendary performances, separately, each in their own rights.

Reggie Bannister as Reggie the ice cream man is one of the top hero horror roles in the entire genre. He is the ultimate good guy, comparable to that of Dean Winchester from the TV show Supernatural. His lifelong pursuit of the Tall Man eventually lands him as the lead protagonist of the franchise, as he appears in every film.

The roles of brothers Jodi (Thornbury) and Mike (Baldwin) and their battles with Tall Man are simply spectacular. It is a never-ending, multi-dimensional, epic battle of good vs evil. A. Michael Baldwin gives such a heart filled performance as the younger brother Mike. And Bill Thornbury is the epitome of cool older brothers. He has sensational throughout the series, along with Baldwin (although another actor stepped in for in the second film, returning in the third installment).

But of course, the ultimate character and performance of a lifetime go to Angus Scrimm as the mortician Jebediah Morningside, aka the Tall Man. His portrayal eventually gave birth to one of the most iconic slashers to ever grace the screen. The Tall Man’s sheer strength along with his Lurkers and magical spheres, make him one formidable opponent, and one scary ass villain. Would dare even say the Tall Man is scarier than the Boogeyman himself, Michael Myers.

If you have not seen this masterpiece or the most consistent and well-rounded franchise in horror, what are you waiting for? Just remember, when you are driving down that winding dirt road, chasing the Tall Man, be careful and watch your back. You never know what might be lurking in the dark. Beware the Tall Man… boy.

Posted by Donovan Smith

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