Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The First Ever FMS Scarelicious October Movie Series - Movie #1: Phantasm

For some reason - perhaps as a kneejerk response to Mr. Mouse's insistence on filling the DVR with Modern Marvel episodes like "Dirt" and "Crashes" and "Soda" - I have been in the mood for horror movies.  Luckily, since this is the Hallowe'en month, I can purvey this whim into a theme: the first ever (not the "first annual" because who knows if I'll even want to do this again) Friend Mouse Speaks Scarelicious October Movie Series whereby I watch as many scary movies as I can before the witching hour.  First up, we're going old-school with 1979's Phantasm, a low-budget classic that, despite the terrible acting and bare-bones story, manages to be a good little flick. 

Two brothers discover that the creepy and unusually strong mortician at a local funeral home is stealing (or making) fresh corpses, transforming them into Jawa-like dwarves and giving them into slavery in a hell dimension.  Said brothers are not about to stand for this and, since they fortunately have a small arsenal in the family home, not to mention a buddy who drives an ice cream truck, they set out to stop the Tall Man.  The movie jumps around and makes numerous leaps in [il]logic but since this movie is as much sci-fi/fantasy as it is horror, the surrealness somehow seems to fit.

The acting is appallingly bad, supplemented by the terrible script.  The older brother is one of the dumbest characters I've seen in a long time, with the actor taking an awfully long time to respond to his cues more often than not.  The younger brother character is supposed to be thirteen, yet drives a car and swigs beer when he's stressed.  The Lady in Lavender ... well, let's say that the best thing about her are her nekkid boobs - and those belonged to her body double.  The Tall Man is a fun villain, however: menacing, looming, unfathomable and, yes, tall.

But I liked this flick.  The eerie synthesizer music is iconic, reminscent of Halloween's simple yet effective score.  The special effects, while weak, do not detract from the movie; the violence is quite tame compared to today's standards and the gore nearly nonexistent.  Much of Phantasm is beautifully shot - the DP had a nice eye for framing.  And there were enough tense little moments leading to jump scares that I managed to watch a fair bit of the movie through my fingers.  (Jump scares always get me more than anything else.)

I am an FM-come-lately to the world of horror films and I am enjoying catching up on the classics, Phantasm included.  I like stuff that is a little bit scary and just weird enough to be interesting - and as it clocks in at 90 minutes, the movie doesn't overstay its welcome.

Next on the docket:  Night of the Creeps!

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