.There's this movie I just saw. It has this redheaded kid who looks like a girl who runs afoul of an alien disguised as a statuesque, tall mortician. This dude takes the recent dead interned at his cemetery and turns them into growling midget minions to obtain "fresher" victims as they roam about the tombstones. These dwarves are also placed in drums and sent off to the mortician's planet for slave labor via an intergalactic teleportation portal. I'm not kidding. There's also this balding, perpetually relaxed ice cream vendor/folk musician whose the friend of this kid's older brother. This brother drives an ultra badass '71 Cuda while laying the mac on the ladies; one of which is the mortician disguised as a woman in a lavender dress! Fuckin' flying bladed spheres with drills! There's also this scene where one of the alien's severed fingers that bleeds mustard turns into a mini-Critter with wings. I know, man, like what the fuck shit's crazy...
To take a quote from Chas Balun, this one almost dares you to like it. Phantasm is still totally unique and it's astonishing a twenty-two-year-old Coscarelli wrote, directed, and simply got the film made based on a high school nightmare. I'm not terribly miffed about remakes anymore, but it would be a travesty if Hollywood got their acidic talons on the rights. This is flaky logic but the film just might be individual enough to make fashioning a "re-imagining" difficult. Though what am I saying, Suspiria of all films built on a particular director's strengths, is being helmed by whoever "David Gordon Green" is. Boy, that Pineapple Express was a shining example of lush 35mm art twisted in coils of mystery, wasn't it?
The places Phantasm's narrative slyly drains speak to Coscarelli's wild imagination which seems a bit lost with today's modern horror. Everything isn't good enough. The Tall Man wasn't frightening enough being an alien embalmer so let's have him suddenly transform into a seductively female doppelgänger with a dagger, have body parts that can change into their own dastardly beasts, and alter time and space with his mere presence. How about those dwarves that can make their victims meet the same horrible fate they'll eventually be enslaved to for eternity? Let's make "the car" one of the greatest American muscle cars ever produced--in black. While we're at it, let's have an eleven-year-old sport a handgun and plainly demonstrate how to make shotgun shell-equipped hammers. Again, fuckin' flying bladed spheres with drills! All these elements are textbook proof that horror films needn't conform to some damn expected mold--just the result of some ridiculously inspired brainstorming and daring to make the attempt. Nowadays, nah, let's remake uhhhhh...Candyman! Yeah, now that's the ticket! Is Rob Zombie available?
Danger springs forth from every angle in Coscarelli's horror/sci-fi/drama/Angus Scrimm's a pimp creation and the result still feels wholly belonging to its throngs of fans and genre fans in general. Outsiders that dappled in the original Freddys and Jasons dare not tread onto the Tall Man's turf. Their wherewithal would quickly halt with the landslide of left turns, '70s corduroy, spontaneous earthy jams, and a demand that one actually pay attention or else be banished to where the hell did Reggie go? If one needs anymore convincing, Coscarelli built so much future-proofing into Phantasm that its three sequels squarely walk on the foundation of the original unlike any horror series to date and there's room for more.