Oct 25th: Phantasm(1979): http://youtu.be/xmcR8_2RinY
Normally I try and shy away from too many spoilers in my reviews, but this time i have to throw that right out the window. If i were to do a spoiler free review, it would be: “This movie is fucked, and somehow managed to spawn several sequels”. Not very interesting, is it?
Mike and Jody are two Brothers who have recently lost their parents. Jody is the older, so he is taking care of Mike, who can’t shake the suspicion that Jody is going to stick him with relatives and leave him. When Jody’s friend Tommy is killed during a steamy love fest in the cemetery, Mike starts to notice strange occurrences happening around the Mortuary and surrounding cemetery, chief among them, a very creepy, very Tall Undertaker, who has the strength to lift a full casket by himself. Mike takes his suspicions of something sinister to a local fortune teller, who instructs him to place his hand into a black box on the table. After the box grips his hand, Mike freaks out, but as he is told to not fear, he gradually calms down and is released. Fear itself is the killer. This notion is kept fresh in the mind of Mike, as he begins to be pursued by Dwarf minions of the Tall Man, and pursued by the Tall Man himself. Eventually Mike convinces Jody to help him, and they find that the Tall Man is killing off locals, then turning their bodies into his dwarf minions to be used as slave labor on another world. Oh yeah, The Tall Man has weapons. Big Silver Balls that seemingly fly around the mausoleum at his will, and at times unsheathing deadly blades or even a drill. The finale of the film sees Mike and Jody carrying out a plan to drop the Tall Man down a mine shaft, when all of a sudden, Mike wakes up. The whole film was a nightmare. Jody is dead, and mike is struggling to cope. After waking from the nightmare, Mike heads upstairs, only to find the Tall Man is waiting for him in his bedroom!
Ok…so What The Fuck is going on here? Well, we learn that the bulk of the film does indeed take place within the nightmare of Mike, which explains the surreal and exaggerated tone of the film, and clues of this are peppered throughout the film. Once you understand how your environment influences your dreams, this becomes much more clear. Imagine you are Mike. 13 years old, you’ve lost both your parents, and then you have just lost your older brother, who had become your whole world. In your grief, you would likely spend a lot of time in Jody’s room, yearning to hold on to him for just a little bit longer. You would likely stare at the posters he had in his room…maybe Star Wars, and the Allman Brothers Band? Those aren’t random guesses either, it doesn’t take a genius to see that the dwarf minions of the Tall Man look just like the droid peddling Jawas from Star wars episode IV. As for the Allman Brothers? Jody’s friend Tommy, who is killed in the cemetery, bears a striking resemblance to Dwayne Allman, his look standing out drastically from the other characters in the film. It should go without saying at this point that I am purely speculating on the hidden meaning. Ultimately, The whole film is a story of how an adolescent deals with Mourning and Death. In the case of Mike, he dreams up a sinister personification of death culled from pop culture and fear. This personification, The Tall Man, is causing the deaths to fuel his own agenda, effectively stealing these peoples lives before their time. This is much easier to accept for someone so young, rather than the knowledge that everyone must die, and we have no idea how long they will have. If death is the result of a sinister external force, as opposed to a mysterious whimsical happenstance, then might one be able to resist it? Could you fight against this force, and stop death? That seems to go in line with Mike’s dream…you see where i’m going with this.
…But what about after Mike wakes up? Why is the Tall Man waiting in his room? It was all a dream, wasn’t it?