Phantasm! The Plot Summary Page!!
Okay, I've recently become a fan of the "Phantasm" movies.
I saw one of them in the theater, long ago. I don't remember which one it was, or what happened in it, but I do remember that those creepy silver balls were really cool! And I loved the way the end credits contained a legal warning telling you not to rip it off, or face "the wrath of the Tall Man" and I thought that was really clever.
So, recently (September 2003), I went out and rented the original "Phantasm" (you can see my review on the N thru P page). It sucked. Yet, it was somehow captivating! (Sort of a "so bad it was good" thing going on.) And I decided that one of my missions in this life is now to watch all three sequels, and more if they keep on coming.
But, during my viewing of P1, I had trouble keeping straight what the hell was going on. Maybe you've experienced this same problem? I figured, when I see the other ones, I'm REALLY going to be lost! So, finally, I get around to explaining the point of this here web page. I shall be chronicaling exactly WHAT THE FUCK is going on in each flick! As I watch them (if I can find them, that is!).
Obviously, this page is FULL OF SPOILERS, so don't read it if you are the kind of person for which a movie is "ruined" if someone tells you what happens. You have been warned! Else you risk the WRATH of the Tall Man!
(by the way, in Citizen Kane, Rosebud is the sled! hahahahahah!!!!)
Phantasm (Numero Uno), 1979, Plot Summary:
- Three buddies are in a band: Jody, Reggie, and Tommy (this is what they call "back story")
- Tommy dies in the early scenes of the movie, seduced by a wench (actually the "Tall Man" in disguise) and then killed by her.
- Jody and Reggie attend the funeral; Jody's kid brother Michael is not allowed to attend, as he's still freaked out by his parents' death a few years ago.
- Michael watches the funeral through binoculars; he sees the undertaker (the "Tall Man") hoist Tommy's coffin, all by himself, into his hearse! He knows that something is not kosher.
- Michael starts investigating, and finds strange things in the funeral home, and enlists Jody's aid; they find all sorts of strange stuff! Including a dismembered finger that oozes yellow blood and refuses to die, and dwarfs in robes, one of which seems to be Tommy! Reggie is thought to be dead at least once, but comes back each time.
- They get Reggie to help in the investigation too....
- Eventually, all three find a Strange Room in the Funeral Home... it is full of canisters, three feet tall. They contain dwarfs, which are crushed bodies of the dead, re-animated, and being sent to another planet to be slaves. They also find a "gateway" to that planet, which consists of two short posts, and if you go between them, you go to the other planet.
- Then things start to get weird; that is, they stop making sense in a linear fashion... after all three of them find the gateway, the scene fades out... and fades back in with Jody looking for Michael on the lawn, and Reggie is still inside the gateway room. He's watching the canisters getting sucked through the gateway, and almost gets sucked through, himself. But he escapes from the room. The discontinuity is never explained.
- Eventually, Jody and Michael find each other on the lawn, and Reggie is then on the lawn too and is seduced by the wench who got Tommy.... but she turns back into the Tall Man, and stabs him to death.
- Jody and Michael watch Reggie's death, but can do nothing about it, so they go home to make plans to kill the Tall Man. Jody locks Michael in his room while he goes to kill the Tall Man, but Michael escapes by hammering a bullet against the door. Together, they lure the Tall Man into an old mine shaft, he falls in, and Jody drops rocks down from a hill top to seal it up.
- Then Michael wakes up in bed... he was having a bad dream! Turns out that Reggie is alive, but Jody is dead... Reggie explains that Michael was having a bad dream, and he "reminds" Michael that Jody died a while ago in a car wreck. Reggie convinces Michael to go on a road trip with him to cheer him up. While Michael is in his room packing, the Tall Man reaches out through a mirror hanging on a closet door, grabs Michael, sucks him through the mirror... to where? Another dimension? We shall see.....
Mike: "I don't know what that was. It was small, brown, and low to the ground."
Jody: "No warning shots. Warning shots are bullshit, you shoot to kill or you don't shoot at all."
The Tall Man: "Boooooyyyyy!!!!"
Phantasm II, 1988, Plot Summary:
Basically, this movie had ten times the production values and quality of the first one. Which only left it at about one tenth the quality of the average horror movie! Yet, it still had a certain compelling quality to it. Anyways, here is what happens in it....
- starts with a blonde chick (Elizabeth) who has spent the last eight years having visions of Michael, Reggie, and of course the Tall Man. She is dying to meet Michael...
- then, cut to a flashback of scenes from the ending of Phantasm 1, where the Tall Man is grabbing Michael in his bedroom. Reggie comes to his rescue, and they escape the house, blowing it up, along with numerous dwarfs, in the process. The Tall Man, of course, escapes.
- cut to eight years later.... Michael (now played by a totally different-looking James Le Gross, rather than Michael Baldwin) is in a mental hospital, and is receiving psychic messages from Elizabeth (who he has never met) in his dreams. He fakes like he is cured and gets released. He tracks down Reggie, who has no recollection of the house blowing up or anything else; he believes that it was all in Michael's imagination.
- but... Michael tells Reggie that the Tall Man is about to blow up Reggie's house and his family! and lo and behold, it happens! Michael's premonition convinces Reggie that the Tall Man is all too real, and they decide that they must track him down and stop him
- Michael and Reggie take off in their "hemicuda" hot rod to track down the Tall Man. Apparently he is leaving a wake of dead small towns wherever he goes, after plundering their graveyards to create his evil dwarf slaves.
- in one of the small towns, Michael (also called "Mike" in some scenes) sees the naked corpse of a cute young brunette chick. When he turns around and then looks back, she is gone. Hmmmmm....
- they keep traveling, and eventually arrive at Eizabeth's town, Perigord OR, where her grandparents have both died and been snatched by the evil Tall Man.
- there is also a priest there, played by Kenneth Tigar, the only real actor to show up in the series so far! And his presence only serves to emphasize how BAD all the other actors are.
- Reggie and Michael pick up a hitch-hiking brunette, Alchemy (the same chick who was the disappearing corpse!) because Reggie is basically getting horny from "life on the road".
- there are some decently grisly scenes in the cemetery in Perigord, with the Priest, the Silver Spheres, and Elizabeth. Also with Michael and Reggie, after they hit town. Lots of random battles with the dwarfs and the spheres, etc. The priest gets snuffed, of course. In one scene, Michael actually "captures" one of the spheres, to use as a key to a "gateway" room.
- Michael and Elizabeth eventually hook up, of course; realize that even though they've never met in the flesh, they've been in love for years. They can even communicate without moving their lips.
- at various points, the hemicuda is blown up, and various henchmen of the Tall Man get burned up, chopped up, and blown up.
- Mike and Reggie use the captured sphere to access the gateway room, and in a scene reminiscent of the first flick, almost get sucked over to the other planet/dimension.
- meanwhile, the Tall Man almost manages to embalm Elizabeth, but Mike and Reggie manage to "kill" him with hydrochloric-acid-laced embalming fluid (and he blows up in spectacular fashion).
- Mike, Reggie, and Elizabeth race out of the exploding funeral building, to be picked up by Alchemy in a hot-wired hearse, and they drive away to safety.
- but.... Alchemy turns into a ghoul! and attacks and kills Reggie while Mike and Elizabeth are trapped in the back of the hearse.
- Mike and Elizabeth decide that it must all be a dream.. they are repeating to themselves, "it's just a dream.. it's just a dream"
- when the Tall Man appears, and says "No... it's NOT!" and the credits roll....
Phantasm II Quotes:
The Tall Man: "You think that when you die, you go to Heaven. You come to us!!"
Michael: "Reg, who are we kidding? I'm a 19 year old kid, you're a bald middle-aged ex-ice-cream vendor. We can't kill him alone."
Other movies in the series, to be summarized as I see them....
* Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead (1994)
* Phantasm IV: Oblivion (1998) (I already bought a used DVD of this one, but am waiting
till I see the previous ones before I watch it)
* Phantasm's End (2003) (not yet released)
Phantasm Plot Summaries