a.k.a. The Never Dead

Year: 1979
Rated: R
Run Time: 88 minutes
Production Company: Embassy Pictures Corporation
Director: Don Coscarelli (Phantasm II, Phantasm III, Phantasm IV, Beastmaster)
Starring: A. Michael Baldwin, Bill Thornbury, and Angus Scrimm as "The Tall Man"
T & A: Hell Yes
Team Affiliation: A.I.M.

"The Tall Man Has Balls Of Steel... Do You?"

Welcome to the scenic Morningside Cemetary: home of the telekinetic fiend known as "The Tall Man", kung pao midget corpse-monks, brain eating silver death spheres, dismembered (and pus filled) fingers that turn into buzzkilling space wasps, and interdimensional portals a go-go. Welcome, bile swilling bretheren of the impending hobo apocalypse, to the world of PHANTASM: a place where you might get your forehead impaled by a supernatural monster balzak and have your brain pureed, but you sure as shit won't die from boredom. With horny teens getting down nightly in the local cemetary, telepathic super grannies, kamikazee hearse chases, and ice cream men who put down the scoop and pick up a 12 gauge to fuck up evil... there's plenty to see and do (and kill) in PHANTASM: one of the most schizophrenic horror flicks to ever grace the filth caked videoscreens of NOTC HQ.

The year is 1979, and mild mannered teenager Mike needs a hobby. Ever since his parents died a horrible screaming death at a SUPERTRAMP Concert in Bethesda back in '78, Mikey has been spending way too much time hanging around the local Morningside cemetary with his binoculars. In addition to all the hot blooded Cherokee papoosy pounding he witnesses at Morningside, he catches a glimpse of something strange. Strange as in seeing the creepy old mortician who lives in the cemetary's mansion ("The Tall Man") pick up a coffin after a funeral and take it home with him. Having only read about necrophilia in that rumpled copy of VELVET beneath his uncle's dresser, Mike decides to investigate the hellish mansion and see what's up.

What he uncovers is a horrifying world where the intradimensional entity known as "The Tall Man" is amassing an army of bite sized zombie war slaves by shrinking the corpses of the recently deceased and faking their burials. He is aided in his quest by a number of gleaming metal balls that can fly about on their own and employ all manner of blades, screws, gouges, glaives, and spikes whenever they're on the hunt for hot human flesh to wreck. It is never revealed whether or not the Tall Man plays with his balls. (It is, however, revealed that you play with yours in the shower after hot sessions of leap frog with the youth group) The Tall Man also has some strange sort of interdimensional gate (as opposed to a normal one?) in a corner of his sprawling underground lego lair that leads to a dismal desert world populated by little angry midgets. Exactly how all of this weird shit coalesces into a mad plot to take over the world is never really explained in any amount of detail... but that doesn't keep Mike from soiling his AQUAMAN Underoos with a colon scorching ass blast when he sees this stuff with his own eyes. It also doesn't keep him from sounding a code red and amassing all of his trusted friends in an effort to stop this threat!

However, seeing as how Mike is nothing more than a snot-nosed little pervert who couldn't make it in THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY because he got an F in TAMBOURINE back at KinderKampf, he's got to rely on his only two resources: his Michael Knight look-alike brother Jody and the Ice Cream Man by Day / Technotronic War God by Night known as Reggie. What ensues is an all-out war against the micronized dead jawa-slaves, the silver balls, and the giant telekinetic space freak The Tall Man as Mike, Jody, and Reggie try to save the 70s from TOTAL DESTRUCTION.

Doesn't make any sense? Damn straight- and that's what makes this flick so fucking entertaining. Completely pointless scenes abound here, unified by the simple fact that they are crazy as hell. One second Mike will be working under his car when the jack explodes and the car collapses on his chest- the next we'll witness a nightmare where his bed teleports to a cemetary and he is eaten by zombies- then we'll be treated to a wham, bam, front porch acoustic jam between the ice cream man and Jody when they pick up their guitars. The real beauty of PHANTASM lies in the fact that it doesn't even make a fucking attempt to explain how all of these isolated scenes of mayhem tie in together. No one explains The Tall Man or his origin, why he has butterscotch pudding for blood, the origin of his damn flying death orbs, or how in the hell he plans on taking over the world with an army of ugly midgets... but you're too busy cheering on Jody as he struggles to stuff the Hittite Space Wasp (!) in the garbage disposal to give a fuck.

But despite all of this senseless carnage, all is not perfect in the land of PHANTASM. The film was made back in the late 70s... and on a shoestring budget to boot, so the flick looks extremely dated. Granted, some of the special effects are pretty amazing for such a small budget (while others are laughably shitty) and all are gonzo enough to keep most horror fans entertained... but others might be put off by the 70s cheapness of the flick. Still, it's a small offense for such an insane viewing experience- and shouldn't dissuade you from checking it out in the least. There's quite simply nothing like original PHANTASM on the local video store shelves when it comes to raw pyschosis... and you can bet your ass that gets a big HELL YEAH from NIGHT OF THE CREEPS!

-Z Man

Our Rating System

Mr. Paul: "If it weren't for that damned turkey pot pie I ate before I would've stayed awake through all of it. However, don't let my napping take away from the home grown quality of this one. The balls have hooks, blades, and corkscrews with which they fuck people up, and the kid on the motorcycle got launched ten feet by the tall man's mental prowess."

Z-man: "An early attempt at Lybian Mind Control that completely defies description. It's a twisted gorefest that is ruly worthy of its cult classic status... especially if you have an unhealthy midget fetish. But hey, who doesn't?"

Eagle Te: "Insane movie with absolutely no coherence what so ever. An excellent original in a series that gets more hilarious with every retarded sequel! Check it out but rent Phantasm 2 if you want the best film in the series."

El Santo: "There's no attempt at a plot, and I LIKE IT! What does it have? Well, how about a spinning orb of death, or maybe Mantar, Mistress of the Graveyard?!?! If these freaks can't keep you interested, then all the blood or little treasure troll henchmen will. A great flick to set up the others in this twisted series!"


For those of you completely addicted to all things Phantasm, this is the site that's guaranteed to slake your thirst for wanton bloodletting, kamikazee zombie dwarves, and metallic spheroid face busters. It's the official PHANTASM web page...and it sure as hell shows. Quotes, interviews, sound and video clips, an an overall polished feel combine to make this the definitive Phantasm page on this island Earth. Check it out at all costs!