It would not be the most pleasant experience to find someone you thought was dead wearing a black cloak and shrunken to dwarf size. It also would be not be that fun if that same zombie dwarf was trying to kill you. The master of these putrid dwarfs in Phantasm is an iconic “Tall Man” played by actor Angus Scrimm. The Tall Man also uses flying spheres to drill out the blood and brains of his human victims. The Tall Man is not of this world and desires to have humans shrunken and sent to hell in slavery. The Tall Man is easily one of the more unconventional villains of the horror genre.
Phantasm follows a young teen named Mike who is the first to suspect the evils of the Tall Man. I do have to admit that Mike can be somewhat of a turd but he means well. His brother Jody believes Mike to be slightly deranged due to the death of their parents. Jody also happens to be friends with an odd ice cream man named Reggie who loves to jam out on guitar and fight zombie dwarfs. The young men also encounter a whorish woman that likes to fuck and kill in the graveyard.
One of the greatest scenes in Phantasm is when Mike accidentally enters the gate to another dimension and sees lines of zombie dwarfs walking to their doom. The sky in this scene is of a hellish red that reminds me of a similar sky in Federico Fellini's Satyricon. This “other dimension” offers a whole new world to the already horrifying setting of Phantasm. The film is truly one that feels like anything can happen at any moment. The Tall Man is a new kind of monster and he couldn't care less about a human’s reality.
Phantasm has spawned three sequels and there is a fifth film in the works. Sadly, Phantasm creater Don Coscarelli hasn’t come close to capturing the power of his first Phantasm and channeling it into his sequels. Nonetheless, the Phantasm sequels are interesting as novelty but for not much more. Phantasm is a horror film that has an eeriness about it that I could only find similarly in the horror works of the German expressionist directors. Phantasm is one of the finer and truly original points of phantasmagoria in horror cinema history.