The Curator of Schlock #119: Phantasm

The Curator of Schlock #119 by Jeff Shuster


The scariest movie ever made? Maybe.


We had the deaths of many cultural icons last week. David Bowie. Alan Rickman. Grizzly Adams. Not to discount any of those, but they ended up overshadowing the death of Angus Scrimm the weekend prior. I think all of us horror fans have our favorite monsters, whether it’s Freddy Krueger, Candyman, or Pinhead. But for me it has always the Tall Man that keeps me up at night, and the Tall Man wouldn’t have been possible without Angus Scrimm. You will be missed.


But this is not a sad day for us Phantasm fans. Angus Scrimm gave his final performance in the upcoming Phantasm V: Ravager, which comes later this year. The movie looks very promising from the trailers and will hopefully prove a satisfying end to the series. In addition to Ravager, J.J. Abrams (the director of that Star Wars thing) has commissioned a 4K restoration of the original. Wow! 4K! I don’t know what that means. Is that like 4,000 times the definition that we’re experiencing now? Can we get a 4K restoration of Howard the Duck?

I posed the question in the subhead on whether 1979’s Phantasm from director Don Coscarelli is the scariest movie ever made. The trailer is pretty darn spooky. In fact, the trailer narrator asks a series of questions of the viewer. I’ll attempt to answer them.

Phantasm. Is it a nightmare?

Oh yeah. Phantasm is most definitely a nightmare. How so? Try a floating silver sphere that zips all around until it decides to claw onto your forehead, drilling inside your brain until a steady stream of blood squirts all over the mausoleum floor.


Wetting your pants is another symptom of the sphere drilling into your skull. How embarrassing.

Phantasm. Is it an illusion?

Sure. Phantasm is an illusion. Like when it’s 1979 and your sporting a boss 70s mustache and this beautiful woman wearing a lavender dress approaches you wanting to get it on in the local cemetery.


You’ll say, “That was great, baby.” only to realize the woman you were making sweet love to is actually the Tall Man (Angus Scrimm). This happens right after you’ve gotten a dagger shoved into your guts. The police, obviously, will rule it a suicide.

Phantasm. Is it an evil?

Hmmmmmm. I’m not sure. The Tall Man plunders the graves to he can squash the bodies down into these dwarf creatures to be shipped off to his home world to work. I guess their experiencing a labor shortage where he’s from.


That’s actually a form of recycling if you think about it and recycling isn’t evil. Recycling is good. So Phantasm is not an evil.

Phantasm. Is it a fantasy?

No. Phantasm is a horror movie like Suspiria or Gone Girl.


 Phantasm. Is it alive?

That very question scares the bejesus out of me. Is it alive? I hope not because the “it” will probably try to eat my face.


 Whatever it is, if this one doesn’t scare you, you’re already dead.


Uhh. Okay. You’ve convinced me. Phantasm is the scariest movie ever made!

Five things I learned from watching Phantasm

  1. Don’t stick your hand in the box!
  2. Moon murals never go out of style.
  3. Giant flies are the most horrible things ever!
  4. Warning shots are bullshit.
  5. “Sitting Here at Midnight” is actually a pretty groovy tune.


Jeffrey Shuster 3
Photo by Leslie Salas.

Jeffrey Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124, and episode 131) is an MFA candidate at the University of Central Florida.

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