A. Michael Baldwin
Kenneth V. Jones
Mary Ellen Shaw
Horror / Sci-fi / Fantasy
Trivia 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.
The mansion used for the exterior shots of the mausoleum was also seen in the James Bond Film A View to a Kill (1985)."
Sequels to the phantasm films are being made in comic book form.
Don Coscarelli's and Reggie Bannister's parents can all be seen as extras in the funeral scene.
The gnomes were played by children.
The "ball" scenes were simple special effects. The sphere was being guided around a corner by a fishing line. The sphere was thrown from behind the camera by a baseball pitcher and then the shot was printed in reverse. The ball attaching itself to the man's head was filmed by sticking it on his head, then pulling it off, and printing the shot in reverse.
The impressive, stone-looking interior of the mausoleum was actually constructed of plywood and marble colored plastic contact paper
Title was changed to "The Never Dead" for Australian audiences as not to confuse it with the popular Aussie sex comedy Fantasm (1976).
The coffin that Mike sees the Tall Man lift by himself and shove back into the hearse was made out of balsa wood, empty, and had a rope on the side facing away from the camera to make it easier to handle.
The copyright date shown during the closing credits of this film says MCMLXXVII (1977)
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30th Oct 05
An alien is shrinking bodies the of the recently departed and sending them to other planets to be sold as slaves. Or something.
Review Reviewed as part of the Phantasm Box set
Imperfections aside, Phantasm remains one of the best, original 70’s horror flicks. It falls into the ‘out there’ category and once seen, is never forgotten.
Directed, written, shot, and edited by Don Coscarelli, Phantasm tells the story of 12-year-old Michael who recently lost his parents and is afraid his older brother, Jody, will abandon him. He therefore follows Jody everywhere, even into the cemetery to snoop on him making out. But there’s something odd going on at the cemetery and, in particular, the Morningside Mausoleum. Mike has plenty reason to worry. Not only does he keep seeing (and hearing) cloaked, dwarf-like creatures, but he is also sighting a scary looking tall man on an alarmingly regular basis. He’s not only tall and very scary looking, but seems to have superhuman strength. The Tall Man.
Mike, with the help of Jody and local ice cream vendor pal Reggie, embarks on a crusade to get to the bottom of whatever’s going on at Morningside. What they discover is that the Tall Man is an alien who takes the bodies of the recently deceased, squashes them into little dwarf people, puts them in canisters and sends them through a space gate to other planets to be used as slaves. Ah, the old ‘squash dead people up and send them into space to become slaves’ ploy, I hear you say. Exactly. This isn’t the kind of story you come across every day.
Despite Phantasm’s low budget, it looks superb and remains one of the most endearingly charming and anarchic horror pictures from the 70’s. The plot is so demented that our curiosity can’t be satisfied quickly enough; dwarfs, the iconic Tall Man, deadly flying spheres, space-gates, all within a seemingly ordinary funeral home – it’s all here, and it’s one loveable riot from start to finish. The acting may be a little cheesy and camp but these (mostly non-) actors keep this crazy story on the rails, blending genuinely creepy horror (The Tall Man) and humour (mostly Reggie) all the way in the best possible tradition.
The soundtrack in this first instalment sounds incredibly clear on the new DVD, breathing new life (or death, if you prefer) into the ghastly goings-on at Morningside. The main musical passages are a little reminiscent of Carpenter standards and Fabio Frizzi’s The Beyond score, breathing just the right kind of dark spirit into the eccentric journey. It works a treat, and now you can hear it as originally intended. Another musical highlight of note is the irresistible ‘jam’ featuring the very real musical talents of Reggie Bannister and Bill Thornbury (Jody).
Coscarelli’s film may work because it sensitively tackles fear of abandonment. It may work because it’s about death itself, presented here as the inescapable Tall Man, who relentlessly keeps coming back, finding you no matter where you are. Predominantly however, this works because it’s a deliriously madcap funfest of a horror film told with life affirming verve and imagination.
The Commentary with Don Coscarelli, Michael Baldwin, Angus Scrimm and Bill Thornbury is fairly good, covering the director’s philosophy on horror, tales of audience responses, the perils of beer product placement as well as the obligatory “I still have that suit” comment.
The Behind the Scenes Footage section is the highlight. Super 8mm footage shot at locations chronicle everything from the lo-tech special effect executions and trials, to scene rehearsals with excellent commentary by Coscarelli and Reggie Binnister – quite possibly the nicest two men you’ve ever heard.
The Introduction by Angus Scrimm features the ever-so-nice Mr. Scrimm praising the writer/director/editor/director of photography’s talents with heartfelt appreciation for being a big part of Phantasm. Oh yeah, and he pulls that face. What a sport. The perfect way to commence the Phantasm viewing experince.
Versions Also Known As:
The Never Dead (Australia)
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