Horror Recommendation: Phantasm (1979)
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Phantasm (1979) directed by Don Coscarelli
In one sentence: Two brothers find out that death has a beyond and its controlled inside a dreamworld by a Tall Man, a regulator and keeper of souls.
Why you should watch: Growing up where I did, i know the smell of motorbike exhaust fumes in a graveyard and autumnal leaf rot wafting through my window and breath-steam filtering its way through hedge leafs and nothing could evoke Phantasm more to me than these things.
Phantasm is a tale of death, afterlife and discovery of the meaning of death whispered into the crack behind a fire place. The single fleck of paint on a mirror, a static part of the reflection you find endearing to the same part of your ever-changing present self that it always rests on when you look at yourself.
//the frequency of the dead is the hum rising in our feet we got used to//
The heartache and curtain close of death can sometimes close off our perceptions beyond the physical realm. someone dies, their body is ritualistically submitted, by ash or earth, to a place suitable for returning reflection, and the memories live and swirl forever. Isnt that what we want for our dead?
what if you looked beyond? what if the marble-opluent dead-lined mausoleums with never touched red velvet curtains, protected by unbiased, bloodthirsty spherical sentinels was actually a gateway to a place of foul slavery and unknown terror? no matter if you were “destined” for heaven or hell, this is where you go.
//you are not in a better place now//
The local gypsy shamen. severed limbs moving alone. ice cream trucks driving through eternal blackness. red hot jets of blood. damp dying greens offset by a creamy white funeral parlour nestled in among huge yellowing ferns. car light reflections fogsmoke. shadows on faces resembling a transformation the audience is aware of.
Phantasm exists in its own dreamscape of players, guises and pawns. There isnt an extensive dilating threat of a town with a dog and parents and kids, this is a focus on the people part of it. a setting with no backdrop. an empty gymhall after a play’s rehearsal stalked by the people in control of death. the props and sets are deserted except the people thrown in and meant to be there.
Its the myriad of things I ever formulated in my head when looking at VHS covers when I was young at a neighbours boyfriends house being babysat or at a parents friends house exploring where i shouldnt. Its the essence of horror and atmosphere because it doesnt disappoint itself with a strict narrative that your mind isnt rigid enough to imprison its excited ideas with. Phantasm delivers itself unto you and it fits so smooth across your brain, youd swear Coscarelli made it specifically for you.
Phantasm is perfect.
Favourite Line: the only line you need. “BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOYYYYYYY!!”