Watching Phantasm series for the first time and not seeing what makes them great.

Discussion in 'Reader Reviews' started by crikan, Sep 24, 2009.

  1. crikan

    crikan Well-Known Member

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    Phantasm and Phantasm II spoilers ahead!!!

    I'm 34. I'm a bit too young too have seen many of the horror classics when they were initially released but I was very aware of them. My family rented allot of videos when I was young and I spent allot time looking at the covers and posters of horror movies as they were the most provocative. I rarely could get my hands on them since my parents were responsible enough to keep me away from inappropriate movies. Thankfully my grandmother wasn't as clued in. Despite the Phantasm series having some the most iconic covers and posters I never got around to giving it a rent. I can’t remember if it was lack of availability or if I was just too drawn to Pinhead and Freddy. After recently being surprised by how much I enjoyed the Halloween franchise and Black Christmas I really expected to love Phantasm. But I really disliked the first two. The first movie just felt like an incoherent mess. While the Tall Man and silver ball are cool they didn't appear in the movie much and I really disliked the evil jawas. The ending was is easily one of the worst of recent memory. I really dislike the "It was all a dream" ending and this was one was poorly executed on top of it. It was like the movie ran out of action sequences so it cuts to Reggie and Mike by the fire. I would assume that a big reason why my opinion of this movie differs from so many is that I dislike movies where the lead is a petulant kid and Mike was quite annoying. I do love American muscle cars so the inclusion of the Hemi Cuda almost made this movie bearable.

    Phantasm II is even worse than the original. I’ve seen better acting in porn movies. While I found Reggie to be amusing in Phantasm he crossed over to stupid in the sequel. The actor that plays Mike is atrocious. His inner monologues seem unnecessary and his psychic conversations with Liz were cringe inducing. While I understand that it may have been intentional, the sex scene with Alchemy was ridiculous and as unsexy as a topless woman riding a dude could be. I didn’t find one moment interesting until 50 minutes in when the Tall Man finally started getting involved by hanging the priest by his crucifix. The final 20 minutes of showdown was very good, but I disliked Mike, Liz, and Reggie so much at this point it was hard to really pull for them. Head scratching moments continued during the showdown as well, like why do the balls go after the henchmen. The chainsaw duel and the way they defeated the Tall Man were very cool but the ending would have been better if they had been more subtle about letting us know that Alchemy was the Tall Man. They should have just put her in a black suit for the entire movie.

    The odd thing, I’m still interested in seeing part 3. The Tall Man and the silver balls are very cool. It’s the demon midgets, slow pace and bad acting that are putting me off.

    It seems like these two movies get allot of love on this board. What am I not getting? Is there anyone else on this board that doesn't enjoy these movies?
     
  2. chrismac87

    chrismac87 Zombie Eater

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    I think the biggest draw for these films is the mystery they immerse themselves in and the dream like quality they all have.

    The first film feels like a nightmare come to life. Things aren't quite what they seem and it really just doesn't make a whole lot of sense - but then again, tell me a nightmare or dream you had that did?

    I've always liked the first film, the second one is all right and the third is cheesy fun. The fourth however, is the weakest in the series, that film is a mess - but, I still like it.

    I've always said the PHANTASM films aren't for everyone. I have many friends that love the series, or hate it or just think it's okay. Whatever route you choose to go - that's entirely up to you.

    I've always said everyone's entitled to their opinion, and I will never question anyone else's - I will offer my own and if there's something I can interject to help mold someone's opinion, for instance you not understanding the first film but maybe now knowing it was all based off a dream the director had - you might get it more and enjoy the idea - but I'm not going to tell you you're wrong and that these films are classics.

    Sure the first film is considered by many to be a classic, that includes myself, but there are people like yourself that either just don't get its appeal or the film itself.

    I think a huge part of it is seeing it so much older than the rest of us did, I saw it when I was 5 years old and it freaked me out big time. It felt like a nightmare that just would never end. I remember the first time I saw it, my aunt had special ordered it from the local video store and my brother and I sat down to watch it, horrified by what we saw, and heard for that matter. All of the sudden those jawas from STAR WARS looked a lot less funny to us after we saw that film. And I believe that is the case with most fans of the film(s), they saw them when they were either younger or already fans of the first film which as you know each sequel continues where the other leaves off so it feels manual to watch all four, or you cut yourself short.

    This film was one of the reasons I was afraid of the dark. I'd have to say it was the first real horror film I saw that scared me - which at that time was a very small few but I digress.
     
  3. Angelman

    Angelman OCD Blu Ray Collector

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    And keep in mind the original was WAY out of left field when it came out. A pony-tailed, guitar-playing ice cream man and a kid battle a "Tall Man" shaped alien who is compressing the dead into slave dwarves for another dimension? What's not to like? I have a fondness for them, but I don't love them. I would go ahead and watch parts 3 and definitely 4. 4 gets a bad rep but I like that it ties all the other movies together.
     
  4. maybrick

    maybrick Well-Known Member

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    I also saw Phantasm at a very young age and to this day it's still my favorite horror film/series (and will gladly defend Oblivion to the death!). When you say it's an incoherent mess, the only way I can take that is that you're just too used to mainstream film structure. Was it all "just a dream"? My take is yes. And no. The Tall Man isn't just your run of the mill movie monster or villain. He is a pan dimensional being that exists simultaneously in an infinite number of parallel universes. You kill one Tall Man and another one gates in to take his place. Mike at the end of the film may have been dreaming (what is a dream but another dimension?), but in that dream he was witnessing events that were taking place in another, parallel Earth where the Tall Man was defeated and his brother was still alive. Mike has a special psychic ability to see the Tall Man, but unfortunately The Tall Man in turn can see him. Mike is ultimately the person who draws him to our (or rather, his) world.

    That's my take on it all, at any rate.

    As you can probably surmise, I've seen Phantasm a lot. There's a lot to think about in this series, which is more than what I can say about something like Elm Street or Hellraiser. But then, we all have our favorites, don't we?
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2009
  5. spawningblue

    spawningblue Deadite

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    I watched the first one for the first time two years ago and loved it! It has become one of my favourites and an October staple. I never picked up 3 and 4 as I was waiting for part 2 to eventually come out so I could watch the story in order. Now I have all four and as hard as it is I am saving them for my October viewings. I can't wait though!
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2009
  6. Anaestheus

    Anaestheus Well-Known Member

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    I do think it's important to put the film in context to really understand the value. The film had a huge impact in the horror community. In particular, the Tall Man was a precursor to Freddy and Pinhead. And, this was one of the first American films to deal with the idea of nightmare logic and to do it in ways that were more accessible than Argento, Bava, or Lynch. On top of that there is the quirkiness of the heroes and the shear amount of imagination and creative film-making for such a low-budget film, predating Evil Dead, the usual kingpin of these trophies, by two years.

    I suppose in many respects Phantasm may be more admirable for its intentions than its conquests. I do agree that the later films are nowhere near as successful. But, for me, the first will always be dear to my heart. And, while I would say that it may not be a film that you like, I would certainly hope that you can at least appreciate it as the trail-blazer and inspiration it was.
     
  7. crikan

    crikan Well-Known Member

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    So you and I are in a similar boat, we both have recently watched Phantasm for the first time so we're not clouded by nostalgia. Would you mind describing why it is now one of your favorites, because I just don't see it.
     
  8. Mitbox

    Mitbox Member

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    As someone wrote, I like it but don't love it. But there's some appeal to it that attracts me and I think it is the great atmosphere, very nightmare-ish, suffocating, which makes it stand a cut above the rest of horror movies. I think it deserves its cult following.
     
  9. Mok

    Mok Family is Forever

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    Sometimes either a movie works for you or it doesn't. It's probably better o just leave it at that in this instance. If you are looking for an answer to why people enjoy it, I think Mitbox's post says it best.
     
  10. crikan

    crikan Well-Known Member

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    I certainly don't want to seem like I'm disrespecting the series as I understand that it has its status for a reason. I read some these reactions and I feel like I watched a different film.

    Mitbox, was here a particular scene you can point to that you felt was nightmarish and suffocating? The Tall Man and silver ball weren't in the film that often. It seemed like the demon jawas got more screen time and those things are just silly. The world on the other side of the portal didn't really offer much either, did it?
     
  11. Kim Bruun

    Kim Bruun Resident Scream Queen

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    I'm not really a fan either. There are moments of coolness, but it doesn't rise to the heights of terror that other seventies classics such as Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Black Christmas do. There are a couple of spooky shots of the Tall Man, but overall, the movie just feels like a clumsy underachiever for me.

    Worst moment: The chopped off finger turns into bug that looks like a cheap toy. Geez, I'm not expecting perfection, but when special effects are this lousy, just leave them out - rewrite the scene!
     
  12. BroodingHope

    BroodingHope New Member

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    I've tried multiple times to watch the first Phantasm film and have yet to get all of the way through it. I know it's something I would like, but I've just never been in the right frame of mind to watch it. Come to think of it, it would be a really good movie to watch the next time I'm running a fever. Then it would just totally f**k with my head.
     
  13. KGBRadioMoskow

    KGBRadioMoskow Well-Known Member

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    Another torch carried here for the first Phantasm. At risk (certainty, rather) of rehashing what has been said, few films before or since have produced such a pervasive and persuasive feel of dream unreality. For this film, 'it was a dream' wasn't a trite cop out, it was enforcement of the whole 'which is a dream, which isn't, and does the difference matter?' motif. Something that made the 'undream' segment even more frightening. When this film unwrote its events, it wasn't the cliché of rescuing its heroes from a horrible fate that was only imagined, it was to undo their hard fought and quite possibly reality based triumph and strip away their security and hope. It brought to the fray an unthought-of possibility - that the villain could rewrite reality itself.

    Then there is the patently unlikely bunch of heroes, that at first glance shouldn't have had any charismatic draw yet did. An iconic, attention riveting villain that stands very tall (pun intended) amoung the genre greats. Plot details so far out of left field you felt like the director slipped a controlled substance into your popcorn - a fortune teller with a 'Dune' pain test box, compacted corpse zombie slaves, high gravity alien worlds, dimensional gates, metamorphing severed fingers, a hippy driven ice cream truck, and of course brain drilling flying spheres.

    The film has plenty of flaws. Inconsistent acting quality, special effects that don't always measure up, and a sense of incoherence that might have gone too far even for the film's intent. And there was the deathly serious tone of the film, yet which also went so over the top it felt like camp at times. But for me the flaws only *add* to the experience, the unreality.

    This is a kitchen sink film that by all rights shouldn't have worked - that leaves you guessing whether it was a product of accident or brilliance or what combination of both - and yet did work so improbably well.

    The sequels kept much of the above feel, but IMO diluted it by turning the focus into a firearm fest. Much like the horror of Alien became the action film of Aliens, so too the Phantasm sequels switched focus. I think they are definitely lesser films for it, but still enjoyable. Given the stunningly bizarre world Don Coscarelli created in the first film, flaws and all I relish every additional glimpse into it he gives with the sequels.
     
  14. crikan

    crikan Well-Known Member

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    Thank you! That toy fly is the worst horror special effect I've seen. And the 5 minutes they spent waving the jacket around as they were fighting it was just as dumb. Did anyone really find the jawas to be frightening either?

    Texas Chainsaw Massacre, now that's suffocating and nightmarish.
     
  15. Slackjaw83

    Slackjaw83 Lonely St. Tattooer

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    There's a felt-reality to the first Phantasm movie that's hard to explain. It just sucks you in. It honestly FEELS like a dream, where you can't exactly make sense of the world because everytime you figure out the rules of said world, they seem to change. That said, just because the rules of the world are almost contantly changing doesn't mean that you can't enjoy the trip while you're on it. It's a film that I can watch (and have watched) on a regular basis, and always pull something new out of it.

    I do admit, though, that the fly part is a bit rough, though I wouldn't say that it doesn't fit into the film.

    Part 2 is just a great action flik, a roller coaster of a movie. Part 3 is more of the same, but witha few more laughs and a few more distubing visuals.

    Part 4 is a movie that I've never been into. It was cool to see the unused footage from the first film, but the frame story was a bit spotty, though the ending (as polarizing as it was) really worked IMO.
     
  16. Angelman

    Angelman OCD Blu Ray Collector

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    Great score too, even if it is just a rip-off of Oldfield's Tubular Bells...
     
  17. Copyboy

    Copyboy Member

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    The first time I saw PHANTASM I absolutely hated it. I too felt that I must be missing something as it was so popular among horror fans so I tried it again a few years later along with all of the sequels and you know what? They ALL suck but at the same time they're kind of fun. I STILL don't see what people love about these movies and I agree that Part 2 is probably the worst, but there's definitely something about Reggie Bannister that grew on me in 3 and 4. Maybe it's the fact that this guy actually stuck with this silly series and where most actors who continue a series seem to get bored, this guy actually seems to enjoy each one more than the last. Keep going. You may not love them, but you might have fun.
     
  18. meljon

    meljon New Member

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    I saw Phantasm 2 first when I was a kid and I liked it because it was different fom any other horror movie I had seen. Back then I didn't know what bad acting was, but I grew up on 80's horror movies and we all know how they are. I have seen the rest of The Phantasm movies and I think the tall man is a cool character. I still watch those movies.
     
  19. Dave

    Dave Pimp

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    Phantasm is one movie that I did not see as a child, so nostalgia value for me. Having said that, I'm a huge fan of the series. I think I have warmed to Oblivion but need to revisit that before I can say for certain.

    I can understand some not liking the original. It is long and slow. Part II rocks and III is entertaining enough.

    Now, where's Phantasm 5???
     
  20. Hatchetwarrior

    Hatchetwarrior Well-Known Member

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    The Phantasm series is an aquired taste in my opinion. What drew to the series as a kid was the whole mystery behind it all. I mean, after four movies there is still a lot of questions left unanswered and I like it that way. The less you know about the Tall Man, the scarier it makes him.

    My suggestion is if you didn't like the first two don't bother with the other two. Reggie becomes more of a poorman's Bruce Campbell in the third which makes me rolls my eyes when ever I watch it.
     

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