If this one doesn’t scare you, you’re already dead.

Horror Science Fiction
89 min     6.614     1979     USA


A young boy and his friends face off against a mysterious grave robber known only as the Tall Man, who keeps a mysterious arsenal of terrible weapons with him.


Cat Ellington wrote:
There are tall men, and then there's the "Tall Man". I actually saw the trailer, or preview, if you like, for Phantasm while awaiting the start of Invasion of the Body Snatchers in December of 1978. And I remember the trailer quite well, considering that the upcoming film looked scary as the word itself. The part in the trailer that really got to me was the scene in which the main antagonist, the Tall Man, played by Angus Scrimm, is standing outside of some kid's bedroom window (at night) looking in over the kid's head. It freaked me out ... Completely out. And being a horror film buff - even then at such a young age - I'd immediately said to my mother who had been sitting next to me: 'Ooh, ma, I wanna see that movie!' Phantasm looked horrifying ... And I loved horrifying movies. My mother said 'Yes'. It would be the next year, in April of 1979, that we (only my mother and me that time) would finally see Phantasm. And it's scary as hell, I tell ya. Scary as hell. Oh, and as I'd also learned, the kid, whose window it was that the Tall Man stood outside of in the trailer, is named Mike. Scary as hell, I tell ya. Be prepared, if you'll be a first time watcher of this cult horror, to scream and jump and feel chills as you're absorbing it. It is just that creepy. And I do believe that Clive Barker (God love him) would later borrow more than a few of the elements from Phantasm for his own cult masterpiece, "Hellraiser". I reckon that I'll always believe that to be the truth. Phantasm is sheer and ultimate terror. They just don't make 'em like this anymore. Watch this one with the lights on, folks.
simest wrote:
PHANTASM is an uneven work, too fantastic to be genuinely scary but ferociously unique and fascinating on numerous levels. I think at the forefront there was a desire here to create a warped and entirely original Universe where nothing is as it seems and anything can - and probably will - happen. Logic is quickly cast aside and indeed has no place in the crooked landscape that PHANTASM paints. Into this bizarre, surreal.......even Dali-like twisted cosmos, are thrust a group of characters who - perhaps even by virtue of their acting inadequacies - seem somehow as much a part of the fabric of that Universe, even in their struggles to survive and make sense of it. For me, PHANTASM has a hypnotic effect for all those reasons. Flying sphere drills, a gender bending alien cemetery keeper, hooded shrunken corpses refined for slave labour in some parallel Universe, a severed finger that morphs into a grotesque (if admittedly comical) fly and countless other wild fantasies are all episodic nightmares that work their way into my head and stay there - however well or not they may be executed. They are indeed, the essence of all the darkest, unfathomable episodes that invade our deepest sleep. Also, the film's tendency to bounce us in and out of reality - if indeed there is a reality present at all - without warning, keeps us permanently on unstable ground. Dreams are very prominent and indeed prevalent in PHANTASM. So much so, that by the end there seems no dividing line between that which was real and which was not. In this sense, the film explored the territory that NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET would later make it's own but somehow achieves a dream-like quality that even Craven's classic would not surpass. Only Dario Argento's similarly bizarre INFERNO comes to mind as a rival to PHANTASM for the closest we might get to a dream realised on film. PHANTASM is a unique, mind bending vision of quaint, small town America, infused with hellish fantasies of death, loss and isolation, unleashed from the subconscious mind - perhaps even in the end, from that of it's young, insecure and lonely adolescent protagonist. Poe said "Is all that we see or seem, but a dream within a dream?" PHANTASM presents a case. I urge those who are not impressed, to watch it again with these notions in mind.