It is now the month of October, a time where we scare ourselves and others for entertainment. It can either be with spooky, uncanny costumes, or watching a film that makes us scared not so much because something jumped out at us unexpectedly, but because we question ourselves and the world from a psychological view. So in honor of this time of spooks and scares I have decided that the month of October will be dedicated to classic horrors. To kick things off we’ll start with a cult classic: Phantasm.
I had not heard of this movie until a couple of weeks ago when my dad came up to Dallas for a visit. We decided that we wanted to go see a movie at the Alamo Drafthouse, but none of the new movies really caught our eyes. Then, at the bottom of the calendar was a movie called Phantasm that had been remastered (Fun fact, J.J. Abrams was the one that remastered the film in 4K). At this my dad perked up. Apparently this was an old indie horror film that he and his buddies in college would watch any time it came on TV, and the Alamo featuring a remastered version of the film seemed like the perfect thing to go watch: he gets to indulge in some nostalgia while introducing me to a classic. And I must say, I enjoyed getting the chance to watch this movie. (Now just bear with me while I try to describe this…)
The movie opens with a couple getting it on in a local cemetery (Morningside Cemetery), and as they finish the lady, wearing a lavender colored gown, stabs the man to death. As the camera shows us her face it suddenly cuts to the face of an older man. We later find out that this man is dubbed “The Tall Man.”
Next, at this man’s funeral we get introduced to Jody, a friend of the deceased man from the beginning. While waiting in the funeral home, looking at some of the nameplates, the funeral director suddenly comes up behind him, firmly grasping Jody’s shoulder and says, “The funeral is about to begin, SIR!” As he turns around it is revealed that the funeral director is The Tall Man. Next, during the funeral we see a young boy spying on the event from the bushes. This is Mike, Jody’s younger brother. After the funeral Mike comes back to the grave, seeing the tall man pick up the coffin of the dead man all by himself.
After seeing this Mike starts to have nightmares about The Tall Man and little men in brown cloaks. This makes Mike suspicious about the goings on at Morningside Cemetery. One night he decides to break into the cemetery, and what he finds is unnatural and not of this world. Barely managing to escape the cemetery, Mike runs back home where he tells Jody what happened. With his help, and with the help of another friend named Reggie, the three of them decide that they need to investigate further and try to put a stop to the mysterious goings on up at Morningside Cemetery.
Now I know that this description of the movie may not seem all that great, and I will admit that this film is not some masterpiece film that will be remembered by history, but this film was an enjoyable one to watch. I tried my best to get a general plot summary across without giving too much away because I think that this is a film that is best watched knowing as little as possible. Phantasm has a great, spooky atmosphere while still being slightly campy, and reflecting back on it I really enjoyed watching this movie; I can see why it has such a cult following to it. If you’re looking for a casual movie to show to your friends for the fun of it this October, I’d say this is the one.