Don Coscarelli‘s Phantasm was not all like the other horror film that came out in the late 70s and early 80s This film confused the hell out of me since the whole story is more like dream of an event being recalled rather than the event itself.
Mike ( A. Michael Baldwin) and Jody (Bill Thornbury) live in town where a lot of people are dying including their parents. Jody is a young guy in his 20s and his young brother is 13. Mike has a totally reasonable fear that his brother wants to leave. He follows to Mike and friend Reggie (Reggie Bannister) to the funeral of their friend Tommy. Mike notices a creepy Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) lifting Tommy’s coffin back into the hearse after the funeral alone when it took six men to lift it out.
Jody picks up a woman at local bar. This is the same woman we saw kill his friend Tommy at the start of the film then turn into the Tall Man. They go to the cemetery for sex (as you would). Mike has followed them and is spying on them and gets an eyeful of the woman’s naked breasts. Suddenly he hears growling then he gets assaulted by zombie dwarf in a hooded robe and runs screaming across the cemetery right past Jody and the woman. Jody goes after him to see what’s wrong and doesn’t really believe Mike’s story of the hooded zombie dwarf. He sends Mike home and goes back to the woman but she’s gone.
Next day while Mike is underneath their car fixing it he hears the same growling he heard at the cemetery and something is jumping on the car. The jacks holding the car up give way trapping Mike underneath. Jody once more does not believe his story of zombie dwarves.
Mike arms himself with a large kitchen knife and breaks into the funeral home. He sees the Tall Man then hears a sound and turns to see a shiny ball flying towards him. His runs but is caught by the caretaker. Two blades appear from the ball and Mike just avoids it, but it sticks into the head of his captor. A drill comes out of ball and drills a hole into the man’s head and he slumps down dead. Then the Tall Man appears and chases after him. Mike slams a door behind him and finds he’s caught the Tall Man’s hand in the door. He chops at the hand with his knife and slices off the fingers. Yellow blood comes from the wound and the fingers are still moving on their own. Mike grabs a finger puts it in a box and escapes with zombie dwarves grabbing at his heels.
Next morning he shows the finger to Jody who realises he was telling the truth. Jody thinks they should take it to the police but before they can the finger has changed into a big evil red-eyed flying bug. They get the thing down the waste disposal unit but when Reggie comes in it gets out and attacks Reggie until they get it back into the waste disposal.
Jody goes to the funeral home to see for himself what’s going on and gets attacked by a zombie dwarf. He shoots it off and gets out of the building. A hearse comes after him and he shoots at it but he can’t see anyone driving. Mike drives up in their car. Jody shoots at the hearse from the sun roof while Mike drives and the hearse crashes into a tree. They go see who was driving and find out it is a zombie dwarf. Even worse it used to be the body of their dead friend Tommy.
This film really does read like series of half-remembered nightmares woven into a narrative. It also has a twist in the end that casts doubt on everything you thought you knew about what has happened.
This strange film is well-known for the iconic sight of the Tall Man shouting “Boy” as he reaches out for Mike and the lethal flying ball. This will not be to everyone’s taste and so avoid if you don’t like film that screw with your head This film has sequels but they are just as weird as this one and if you enjoyed this film you will probably enjoy them too.