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Horror History: PHANTASM Unleashed Bizarre New Nightmares in 1979

Don Coscarelli's surreal nightmare PHANTASM was released on this day in 1979!

By Josh Millican

One of the most surreal, unique film series in horror history hit on this day in 1979. We’re talking about writer-director Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm starring A. Michael Baldwin, Bill Thornbury, Reggie Bannister, and also Angus Scrimm. Spawning four sequels over three decades, the “Phranchise” saw a rag-tag trio chasing Scrimm’s iconic Tall Man through multiple dimensions of terror!

If it’s been a while, or if you’ve never experienced the bizarre nightmare that is Phantasm, revisit the trailer and also the synopsis below!

Phantasm Synopsis:
The residents of a small town have begun dying under strange circumstances, leading young Mike (Michael Baldwin) to investigate. After discovering the Tall Man (Angus Scrimm), the town’s mortician, is killing and reanimating the dead as misshapen zombies, Mike seeks help from his older brother, Jody (Bill Thornbury), and local ice cream man Reggie (Reggie Bannister). Together they try to lure out and kill the Tall Man, all the while avoiding his minions and a deadly silver sphere.

RELATED: PHANTASM Actor Ken Jones Passes Away

Trivia:
The genesis of Phantasm came to Coscarelli in a dream. One night in his late teens, he dreamed of fleeing down endlessly long marble corridors, pursued by a chrome sphere intent on penetrating his skull with a wicked needle. There was also a quite futuristic “sphere dispenser” out of which the orbs would emerge and chase. (Source)

This film’s original running time was more than three hours. But Coscarelli decided that was far too long to hold people’s attention and made numerous cuts. Some of the unused footage was also located in the late 1990s. It became the framework for Phantasm IV: Oblivion (1998). The rest of the footage is believed to be lost. (Source)

Phantasm Poster - Horror History: PHANTASM Unleashed Bizarre New Nightmares in 1979
Phantasm Poster

Are you a “phan” of Phantasm? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram! You can also carry on the convo with me personally on Twitter @josh_millican.