A low-budget movie hits the local theaters; something that wasn’t from a galaxy far, far away, nor did it have a big studio name as a prelude. In that last gasp of the 1970’s, a young writer/director named Dan Coscarelli and his talented partners in film took us privileged Fellow Fans by the hand and shepherded us into a place from a nightmare. This small, independent film would prove to be the first of a landmark series, beginning a generational journey into darkness that is still with us to this day.
We were shown something way back then; something sinister and shadowy, something that operated outside of the boundaries that we could understand. Contrary to what Steven Spielberg offered us, we learned the answer to the question of whether or not we were alone in the universe; however, it wasn’t the answer we wanted. The things that had now noticed our existence weren’t interested in sharing cosmic secrets or cupcake recipes or starting up a softball league; we still aren’t completely sure what the hell they want or where they’re really from…but we know that it isn’t good. From that small town beginning through these long years Coscarelli has shown us much of what these…things want from us. We’ve met a tall, fearsome man with incredible strength that seems to bend reality to his will. Bodies of loved ones have been stolen from their graves. We’ve seen minds torn from the skulls of the helpless and entrapped in engines of destruction. We’ve watched human beings stunted, deformed and twisted, made into malicious caricatures of humanity, sent out to pillage and kill. Families have been ravaged, torn apart, rendered to nothingness. Friends have been made…and lost. A myriad of horrors have assaulted us, each more terrifying than the one before; each a part of a growing plague of darkness that has swept further across the land with each chapter we have witnessed, and each time another page has been revealed, we have been left with more questions, more doubt, and more horrified awe.
Still, there was a stubborn hope to be found in this darkness; as always, there are those who would rise to the challenges of these Others…brave souls that will not simply lie down and allow the human race to fall as wheat before the scythe. A pair of brothers, Jody and Mike. Their steadfast friend Reggie, an ice-cream man. Proof that courage and loyalty lie within more than just the stereotypical. Through tragedies of their own, this trio discovers the evil intentions of this “Tall Man” and his malefic followers and automatons, and rather than flee or hide, they choose to stand.
Such is the story of heroes.
I was eight years old in 1979; the country was in yet another one of its tumultuous socio-political/economic states that you can pick from any era; such things didn’t matter at that age…and such things were small annoyances compared to what the screen told us we were in store for. I didn’t see the film for another few years; not until I was twelve myself, and I discovered with a young boy named Mike what horrors existed just out of our sight. I stepped into the nightmare where nothing is as it seems, and anything can happen anywhere…and I’ve kicked up my share o’ dust along that road ever since.
For thirty-five years now, Don Coscarelli and crew have invited those of us in the know to see inside this hidden world; a world that would confuse and frighten many…and ultimately consume all. We’ve ridden in that black Hemi-Cuda on that lonely road to a final confrontation. Often times we thought we’d seen it; seen the last of the Tall Man and his underlings…but always, always he would bend the fabric of reality back upon itself…always, he returned to plague our world and our friends once again. We now approach what Coscarelli tells us is to be the end of that road; an ultimate resolution to the story. Who will win in the end? Will the earth finally fall? Will Mike finally find his peace? Will Reggie finally get lucky?
We at LeglessCorpse invite you to take our own little tour of this Phan-tastic world this week, in honor of the upcoming fifth and alleged final Phantasm film, Phantasm: Ravager. If you’re unfamiliar with the terrain, we’ll help you along, get you caught up. We’ll map out what we’ve seen, and try to prepare you for what is to come. If, on the other hand, you’re a veteran of this dark road, please tell us your tales; share your experiences…your knowledge could make all the difference.
As we move towards what may well be the ending to this tale, the conclusion of this three decades old journey, let us all stand together with Coscarelli and stare alongside him into that abyss that he brought us to all those years ago.
Let’s follow Reggie and Mike one last time; let’s stand with them as we have walked with them, and meet this end together.
Whatever comes, we’ll see it as Fellow Fans.
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