“I can’t figure this thing out. But I do know one thing: something weird is going on up there.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
However, I personally find Phantasm to be a mess of a movie — to the extent that I started talking back to it at a certain point, simply out of incredulity at the choices being made:
Coscarelli clearly seems to be aiming for a form of giallo in his use of atmospheric cinematography and Goblin-esque music (as well as a windshield shattering at one point), but can’t seem to make up his mind which horror film tropes he wants to settle on, ultimately simply throwing them all in — including killer hooded dwarves:
… a blind seer:
… a disembodied finger:
… a (seemingly) self-driving car:
… the discovery of meaningful old sepia-toned photos in a cluttered antique shop:
… a chase scene through the dark woods:
… and death-after-sex:
In addition, there’s a brief time/space warp sequence that presumably gives Pearson all sorts of insights into what the Tall Man is ultimately aiming for:
… as well as a truly random musical interlude:
… and a special effects sequence — a lethal silver ball hurtling straight at a bad-guy — which nearly all viewers seems to agree is one of the film’s highlights (too bad there’s no rhyme or reason to its nifty if terrifying existence).
Finding out that Phantasm originally ran over three hours helps to explain the many narrative fragments that simply don’t cohere. I understand that this film was originally conceived through dreams by Coscarelli, and should be viewed as a nightmare-like tale. But for those who prefer narrative cohesion, you’ll want to stay away.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments: