Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Don Coscarelli|
|Produced by||Don Coscarelli|
|Written by||Don Coscarelli|
|Music by||Fred Myrow
|Editing by||Don Coscarelli|
|Studio||New Breed Productions|
|Distributed by||AVCO Embassy Pictures|
|Running time||89 minutes |
Phantasm is a 1979 American horror film directed, written, photographed, co-produced, and edited by Don Coscarelli. It introduced the Tall Man (Angus Scrimm), a supernatural and malevolent undertaker who turns the dead into dwarf zombies to do his bidding and take over the world.
Following the death of his parents and brother, 24-year-old musician Jody Pearson raises his 13-year-old brother Mike in a small town disturbed by the mysterious deaths of its citizens. Reggie, a family man and ice cream vendor, joins the brothers in their suspicions that the local mortician, dubbed the Tall Man, is responsible for the deaths. Mike relays his fears to a fortune teller and her granddaughter about the possibility of Jody departing and leaving him in the care of his aunt, along with his suspicions about the Tall Man. Mike is shown a small black box and told to put his hand into it. After the box grips his hand, Mike is told not to be afraid and as the panic subsides, the box relaxes its grip. The notion of fear itself as the killer is established and is what propels Mike toward his final confrontation in the film with the Tall Man.
Mike is pursued by minions of the Tall Man, alien dwarves (which are kept in a small room that houses a gateway device between the two worlds), who are made from the bodies of the recently deceased, and tries to convince his brother of what is happening.
After convincing Jody and Reggie, they find a strange white room with containers in the mausoleum; a gateway to another planet is also there that Mike enters briefly where he sees the alien dwarves that have hunted him being used as slaves. While trying to escape the Tall Man, Reggie is stabbed and appears to die while Mike and Jody barely escape. They devise a plan to lure the Tall Man into a local deserted mine shaft and trap him inside. After doing so successfully, Mike wakes with a start in his house, lying by the fireplace with Reggie sitting next to him.
Reggie tells Mike he was simply having a bad dream, something that has been a common occurrence since Jody died in a car crash. Mike goes into his room where the Tall Man is waiting and an alien dwarf pulls Mike through his bedroom mirror.
- Michael Baldwin as Mike Pearson
- Bill Thornbury as Jody Pearson
- Reggie Bannister as Reggie
- Kathy Lester as Lady in Lavender
- Angus Scrimm as The Tall Man
- Pat Roman as The Mega Dwarf
- Terrie Kalbus as Fortuneteller's Granddaughter
- Kenneth V. Jones as Caretaker
- Susan Harper as Susie
- Lynn Eastman as Sally
- David Arntzen as Toby
- Ralph Richmond as Bartender
- Bill Cone as Tommy
- Laura Mann as Double Lavender
- Mary Ellen Shaw as Fortune teller
- Myrle Scotton as Maid
The film was originally rated X by the MPAA because of the silver sphere sequence involving a man urinating on the floor after falling down dead. After Los Angeles Times film critic Charles Champlin made a telephone call in a favor to a friend on the board, the rating was changed from the (commercially non-viable) X-rating to R. Champlin's positive review was quoted on the film's promotional posters.
Deleted scenes 
In 1998, MGM re-released Phantasm on VHS and DVD, the film had a newly remastered Dolby stereo soundtrack. Both the VHS and DVD releases included two deleted scenes:
- Mike enters a room with two coffins: one is open with a body inside, the other is closed. Mike hears sounds from inside the second coffin and thinks that it’s Reggie. Reggie enters the room while Mike is trying to pry the coffin open. Mike realizes that something unpleasant is in the coffin, and he and Reggie close it. Mike suggests that they find Jody. This scene is not included on the Anchor Bay release.
- Mike and Jody encounter the Tall Man in the funeral home. Jody shoots the Tall Man several times with his shotgun but it has no effect on him. The Tall Man knocks Mike onto the floor and picks up Jody by the neck with one hand. Mike sees a fire extinguisher and remembers that the Tall Man reacted badly when he passed by Reggie's Ice Cream truck with its refrigerator open. Realizing the Tall Man can be hurt by cold, Mike takes out the fire extinguisher and blasts the Tall Man with it. The Tall Man writhes in pain and screams, then his head explodes.
- Don Coscarelli won the Special Jury Award in 1979 at the Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival and the film was nominated for the Saturn Award for Best Horror Film in 1980.
The film has spawned three sequels:
Home media 
- Official website
- Phantasm at the Internet Movie Database
- Phantasm at AllRovi
- Phantasm at Box Office Mojo
- Phantasm at Rotten Tomatoes
- The Phantasm archives - a Series Resource