ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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Phantasm (1979)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Don Coscarelli

Starring:
A. Michael Baldwin/Mike
Bill Thornbury/Jody
Reggie Bannister/Reggie
Angus Scrimm/Tall Man
PLOT-CRUNCH
Weird stuff is happening at "Morning Side" funeral home. A creepy undertaker (The Tall Man) is up to no good helped by crazy midgets (look like rabid Jawas) and flying, murdering balls. Precocious brat, Mike (Baldwin) pokes his nose where it doesn’t belong and before you can say "f--ked up stuff", he has the Tall Man after him. Run Forrest run!
THE LOWDOWN
Creepy exercise in originality that grabbed me hard but lessened its grip in the last 20 minutes. It’s refreshing to see a horror film that’s not a rehash of another one. Phantasm feels fresh and you never know where it’s coming from. The film is filled with chilling images (specially those involving the Tall Man), beautiful, morbid locations (loved the morgue scenes), lethal flying balls, has an enigmatic, frightening villain and moments of true suspense. The film feels like death, it feels good…

The movie does become a tad sour in the last 20 minutes. The idea they come up with to defeat the Tall Man is very far fetched and I didn’t buy it. And I didn’t care too much for the typical twist ending. I guess in 1979 it was still novel.

The heroic characters are sympathetic but for some reason I didn’t warm up to them as much as I should have. I did love Jody’s jacket though.

On a whole there’s no denying this film’s ability to paint many morbid tableaux, to creep you out and to offer us a wonderful horror villain. Wait till you find out where the midgets come from or the Tall Man’s M.O…creepy. Can you really go wrong with a tall undertaker that steals corpses and never seems to die? Didn’t think so.
GORE
Some stabbings, cut off fingers, ugly midgets but the highlight is without a doubt the damage a flying ball does when it buries itself into your skull and spits out your blood. Fun. The effects are all good except for that rubber looking fly.
ACTING
A. Michael Baldwin (Mike) does great as the balls on kid, very credible performance. Bill Thornbury (Jody) has his moments of bad acting but manages to make the audience like him anyways. Reggie Bannister (Reggie) manages to do the impossible: make a very bald dude, wearing a ponytail kool. Reggie is kooler than his ice cream truck. Angus Scrimm (Tall Man) is just plain scary, the scenes where he runs after Mike gave me the willies. Nice job.
T & A
Some hot blonde shows us her tits and the ladies get a lot of flying balls.
DIRECTING
The film has a very grim look, nice shots, groovy ball POV’s, smoke machines up the wazoo, slow motion and amazing lighting.
SOUNDTRACK
Chilling score that elevates the flick to a higher level.
BOTTOM LINE
Phantasm is a must see for any serious genre fan. No it’s not a perfect flick but you have to admire its creativity, originality and…well…its balls. It looks slick, moves fast and kind of has the same feel as the first "Nightmare On Elm Street", dark and mean. Even in death you’re not safe when the Tall Man’s around….
BULL'S EYE
Several references to Frank Herbert's Dune, including a bar named "Dune" and a scene where Mike is forced to insert his hand into a black box that inflicts pain as part of a test.
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6:04PM on 08/14/2008
Great,great film.Watched it last night,I seemed to care about the characters more than The Arrow,and enjoyed it maybe a tad bit more,but it was a pretty much spot-on review.
Great,great film.Watched it last night,I seemed to care about the characters more than The Arrow,and enjoyed it maybe a tad bit more,but it was a pretty much spot-on review.
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4:31PM on 03/17/2007
I really want to give this movie a 4, as I think it stands next to other horror classics of its era, like Halloween, TCM, American Werewolf, etc. Sadly Arrow's criticism are correct: the film does loosen up at the end, and you don't connect with the characters the way you should. I did care about them, so it doesn't really FAIL there, it just didn't manage to suck me in.
I really want to give this movie a 4, as I think it stands next to other horror classics of its era, like Halloween, TCM, American Werewolf, etc. Sadly Arrow's criticism are correct: the film does loosen up at the end, and you don't connect with the characters the way you should. I did care about them, so it doesn't really FAIL there, it just didn't manage to suck me in.
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+0
2:58PM on 03/16/2007

Arrow In The Bullseye

I agree with the Arrow on this one with regard to everything he says here. And yes it does have a similar vibe to the first NOES, but this film is superior is every respect.
I agree with the Arrow on this one with regard to everything he says here. And yes it does have a similar vibe to the first NOES, but this film is superior is every respect.
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