40th anniversary

Monster Reviews: Phantasm 1979 – 40th Anniversary

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.

SALUTE: 40 Years of The Omen (1976)

SALUTE: 40 Years of The Omen (1976)

Happy Birthday,
Damien Thorn!

House of Tortured Souls
Salutes the 1976 Classic The Omen

The Omen - Lee Remick, Harvey Spencer Stephens, and Gregory Peck

The Thorn Family: Katherine (Lee Remick), Damien (Harvey Spencer Stephens), and Robert (Gregory Peck)

By Woofer McWooferson

On June 25, 1976, The Omen premiered in theaters to critical and commercial acclaim. The Omen was one of the top grossing films in 1976, grossing over $60 million at the box office, and received two Academy Award nominations. It also became an instant classic and spawned two sequels: Damien: The Omen 2 and The Final conflict, neither of which lives up to its parent film. (Technically, there was a third sequel, but the less said, the better. And don't even mention the remake... Please.) Starring Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, Patrick Troughton, David Warner, Billie Whitelaw, and Harvey Spencer Stephens, The Omen is supernatural horror about a child secretly adopted at birth by the Ambassador Robert Thorn (Peck) and his wife Katherine (Remick) when their child is allegedly stillborn.

The Omen-Billie Whitelaw

Billie Whitelaw as Mrs. Baylock

The film begins with Thorn agonizing over the death of their baby because his wife's greatest desire was to have her own child. A priest at the hospital hovers nearby and offers a solution to Thorn's problem, a solution that will spare his wife's feelings and provide a home for a child born with no family of its own. The priest even points out that this child's birth was God's way of supplying Thorn with a baby in place of their own. Thinking he is sparing his wife heartache and helping an orphan baby to have a family and home, Thorn unknowingly brings the Antichrist into his family, causing far more heartache than a lost infant could ever have done. The Omen jumps from Damien's birth to just prior to his fifth birthday when Thorn is transferred from Ambassador to Rome to become Ambassador to Great Britain where people around them begin to die mysteriously.

The Omen-Patrick Troughton

Patrick Troughton as Father Brennan

Expertly directed by Richard Donner, The Omen is an almost perfect horror movie and stands the test of time. Donner had been directing for over 15 years when he took on The Omen, and his credits include the television shows Perry Mason and The Twilight Zone. Although he went on to direct Superman, Ladyhawke, Scrooged, and more, The Omen is unquestionably his best work. Each scene is perfectly crafted for maximum impact without being obvious or overwhelming and much of this credit must also go to the script. David Seltzer, who penned the film, had previously worked on Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (uncredited) and The Other Side of the Mountain, but his work on The Omen's script is, perhaps, his finest. Scenes which are clichéd in other horror movies do not feel so here – they feel real because the characters are rich and fully developed. Similarly, the dialogue is real and natural in spite of the topics of discussion often being supernatural. The casting is impeccable. All take their parts seriously, and there are no attempts to “steal” the movie from each other. Their character arcs compliment each other and the story itself, making for not just a great horror movie but a great film period. Finally, the film is accented by Jerry Goldsmith's powerful original score, for which he won the Academy Award, and there is not one note off.

The Omen-David Warner

David Warner as Jennings

If you have not seen The Omen, I strongly encourage you to rectify that. It is simultaneously a psychological thriller and a supernatural horror story that, though made in 1976, it is not dated and can hold its own against almost every modern horror movie. Celebrate the 40th anniversary of The Omen by watching it again – or for the first time. You'll not be disappointed.

The Omen - trike scene