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"Phantasm" DVD Review

I'm really beginning to wonder about the collective madness behind declaring certain things "classics." One such "classic" is the 1979 horror flick Phantasm which I watched for the first time and had two questions about:
  1. How did this thing get made?
  2. Why hasn't MST3K/Rifftrax torn it to pieces yet?
All I knew about it from back in the day was that there was a silver sphere flying around with blades and a drill on it. There's also one shot of a person on a bed in a graveyard being attacked by bodies popping out of the ground that was in the trailer. (See below.) Otherwise, nada. Unbelievably, there's almost nothing more to it.

It opens hilariously with a couple screwing in a graveyard. She's a blonde with some rather egregious blue-and-purple eye shadow going on; he looks like a roadie for Lynyrd Skynyrd. After he gets off, she stabs him to death. Bummer, dude. Then we get interminably long shots of a kid having trouble riding his dirt bike through the cemetery and another guy wandering the halls of a mausoleum. I'm not even going to go into what their relationship is, but there are also little Jawa-looking things running around; a bar that's the size of a garage that our "hero" walks into, immediately picks up the killer blonde from the opening scene and goes off with her to shag (I know the Seventies were pretty free-lovely, but come on now); another planet (not kidding); a fortune teller's assistant played by an actress so terrible that I stopped to check whether she "acted" again (she hadn't); and a whole lot of other stuff that made me wonder, "Why is this even here?" There's a scene which consists of a guy pulling up in a Good Humor truck, pulling an acoustic guitar case out, going up onto the porch where the hero is sitting jamming on a Stratocaster, and doing a brief song together. Da fuh?

Phantasm was written, directed, edited, shot, co-produced, and generally all his faulted by Don Coscarelli (proving that Robert Rodriguez is star systems away in one-man band chops) who would go on to make three sequels and the much better (but still wildly overrated by fans) flicks Bubba Ho-Tep and John Dies At The End. (Apparently he was only 24 when he made it, but Orson Wells made Citizen Kane when he was 25, so there goes that excuse.) I love this detail from Wikipedia:"The first test screening was a disaster due to the length; Coscarelli says that he erred in adding too much character development, which needed to be edited out." MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!!

I haven't watched the DVD extras yet, so I can't comment on those at the moment. The technical presentation of the disk is adequate, but it hardly matters how it looks when it's a stupid story.

Score: 1/10. Skip it.

Seriously. The only memorable parts are at the end of the trailer, minus the gore of the sphere doing its work.


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