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Phantasm (1979)
Movie Review by The Mortician

Phantasm (1979) Ever make it in a cemetery with a hot, worldly lady? Me either, but Kathy Lester, the Tall Man's feminine alter ego in PHANTASM, has always made me want to try! There's a skewed scene in this movie where protagonist Mike picks her up in a bar and they head off to a graveyard to make it and despite having kind of average, homely looks, once Kathy's blouse is pulled down and her beautiful golden globes with piecing stiff nipples spill out in the moonlight, I'm totally into the proceedings! (Actually, the movie OPENS with her doing this with another guy!) It's actually a really hot scene until Mike's doofus kid brother Jody interrupts the action. Unfortunately, I've read that Ms. Lester had a body double stand-in for these glorious scenes displaying her feminine wares, but I surely hope not. I want something to be REAL in my favorite horror movies, especially the nudity! PHANTASM is kind of a nonlinear nightmare about loss, grief, and coming to terms with death for a young boy. I set my alarm clock for 2AM back in the early 80's to view this one on a late-night HBO showing and have loved it ever since. Of course, THE BALL was the big attraction, I remember seeing those commercials when PHANTASM hit theaters with the sphere flying through the air and directly into the guy's head and of course, the first time I saw that UNCUT with the blood jetting out of the ball, I was giddy from the outrageousness of the sequence! Back in '79 and '80, this was an astounding new vision! But then there was that cemetery lust scene, one I also can't get out of my mind...Mike's hand slowly slides up Kathy's smooth thighs, barely concealed by a shortskirt. Out pop those non-cosmetically altered boobs. So which is more memorable? The sex or the violence? Who knows! Gotta say those unbound hooters and slick moonlit thighs weigh heavier on my mind these days than the spurting blood. The plot of PHANTASM, well, I've never REALLY understood it. Has anyone? Like A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, it purports to "all be a dream" at the end until you get one last scare before the end credits roll. ("Boy!!!!!") So was it a dream or did it really happen? Either way, who knows, but it's a helluva fun ride. Jody is a rather annoying, whining pre-teen kid that loses his parents in a car wreck. His older brother Mike has to take care of him and gets help from his best friend Reggie, a musician that delivers ice cream for a living. (Set your sights high, man!) Jody spies on Mike, afraid that he'll die too, and witnesses Angus Scrimm as THE TALL MAN carrying coffins single- handedly into his lair and transforming recently deceased people (that he sometimes kills) into Jawa-ish slave creatures that do his bidding. There's lots of sneaking around in cemeteries and mausoleums and battles with the Jawa dwarfs that are very spooky and intense. The Tall Man (some kind of Demon?) has other ways to fight off prying enemies, including a strange Paper Mache bat and the aforementioned spheres that fly around and drill your brains out if you're not careful. Also, he turns into that graveyard slut to get you if you're horny...Anyway, our trio battle the Tall Man and his evil minions as "fear itself" sort of becomes an enemy to overcome (again, shades of ELM STREET to come here) and the ending, in a sci fi-ish slant, purports to show the Tall Man as some sort of interdimensional or interplanetary traveler reaping earthly souls to become his slaves...or something like that. Either way, this movie is cool, classy, surreal, and wildly unique from beginning to end. Excellent lighting, production value, and soundtrack score. Total DIY Filmmaking from the late 70's, the way it SHOULD be done. The creatures bleeding yellow blood was a wild twist as well, and then there's that cemetery slut I keep considering...Gonna head on out to a bar right now, one right across the street from a graveyard, and see what happens.... "BOY!!!!!"

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