A woman wearing a lavender dress is having sex in a cemetery with a man named Tommy (Bill Cone).  During the act she picks up a dagger and stabs him with it.

Mike (A. Michael Baldwin) and his brother Jody (Bill Thornbury) live in a small town.  They are alone after the death of their parents two years ago.  Mike has fears that his brother will also leave him.  He follows Jody wherever he goes.  Jody and his friend Reggie (Reggie Bannister) meet at Morningside cemetery for the funeral of their other friend Tommy, who they believe has committed suicide.  Mike hides in the bushes watching the service.  After everyone leaves, he sees the Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) pick up Tommy’s casket by himself and put it back into the hearse.    

Later Mike follows Jody to a local bar called “Dunes Cantina”.  Jody picks up a young woman in a lavender dress.  They go to the cemetery for sex.  Mike follows them and is watching when he sees something in the bushes with him.  He doesn’t get a clear look but there appears to be more than one of them.  They are short, dressed in brown robes and make strange sounds.  Mike gets scared and runs away screaming.  Jody follows and calms him down.  When Jody returns to the cemetery the woman is gone.

Mike gets curious about the strange things he is seeing at the cemetery and of the Tall Man.  He sneaks into the mausoleum section of the mortuary where he is chased by the caretaker (Kenneth V. Jones).  The caretaker gets killed by a flying sphere that bores into his skull.  Mike runs away and comes face to face with the Tall Man.  When the Tall Man’s fingers get cut off in a door, they bleed yellow and continue to move.  Mike brings one home to prove to Jody that something is happening at the cemetery that is unearthly.  The brothers then enter the realm of the supernatural and find a doorway to another world where the dead are turned into dwarf zombie slaves.            

“Phantasm” was released in 1979 and was written and directed by Don Coscarelli.  It is an American science fiction fantasy horror film.  It is the first of five films in the “Phantasm” franchise.  Director Coscarelli got the name "Phantasm" from Edgar Allan Poe.  Poe often used the word in his writings.

It is a bizarre and eerie smaller budget film that has turned into a cult horror movie and launched a franchise that spans thirty-seven years.  The dreamy, otherworldly tone of the film gives it a surrealistic nightmarish quality.  You may not fully understand what is going on, but you know it ain’t good.  The visual look of the Tall Man and the silver sphere of death are a couple of the most unique qualities of the movie.  They are what makes the film a classic. 

The mausoleum was made of plywood and covered in marble designed contact paper.  The "flying ball" scenes were created by throwing the sphere from behind the camera and then reversing the film.  For the shot of the sphere killing the caretaker, the sphere was attached to his head and then pulled off.  Again, the film was reversed in print.  The coffin that the Tall Man picks up and puts back into the hearse was made out of balsa wood.  It also had a rope attached to one side to allow Angus Scrimm to easily pick it up. 

Originally the film was more than three hours long.  Director Coscarelli made numerous cuts.  Some of the unused footage was used for “Phantasm IV: Oblivion” 1998. The remaining footage is believed to be lost.

The mansion used for the exterior of the mortuary is the Dunsmuir House and Gardens near Oakland, California.

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