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Monday, June 15, 2009


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phan·tasm (fan-taz-em) "a dream, a nightmare, a sense of unreality, something in a place where it shouldn't be".
~Don Coscarelli

Mike cannot decide what is real and what isn't, and is plagued by vivid nightmares. He gets the shock of his life when he watches, with binoculars, the conclusion of the funeral of his older brother's friend--the mortician (the Tall Man), by himself, lifts the casket into the back of a hearse. Mike heads to the grounds of the mortuary, which is home to very bizarre happenings, including a unique security device. Enlisting the help of brother Jody and ice cream salesman Reggie, Mike attempts to vanquish the Tall Man


# The mansion used for the exterior shots of the mausoleum was also seen in the James Bond film A View to a Kill (1985).

# Sequels to the Phantasm films are made in comic book form.

# Don Coscarelli's and Reggie Bannister's parents can all be seen as extras in the funeral scene.

# The dwarves were played by children.

# The "ball" scenes were simple special effects. The sphere was being guided around a corner by a fishing line. The sphere was thrown from behind the camera by a baseball pitcher and then the shot was printed in reverse. The ball attaching itself to the man's head was filmed by sticking it on his head, then pulling it off, and printing the shot in reverse.

# The stone-looking interior of the mausoleum was actually constructed of plywood and marble colored plastic contact paper.

# Title was changed to "The Never Dead" for Australian audiences as not to confuse it with the popular Aussie sex comedy Fantasm (1976).

# The coffin that Mike sees the Tall Man lift by himself and shove back into the hearse was made out of balsa wood, empty, and had a rope on the side facing away from the camera to make it easier to handle.

# The copyright date shown during the closing credits of this film says MCMLXXVII (1977)

# This film's original running time was more than three hours, but writer/ director Don Coscarelli decided that that was far too long for it to hold people's attention and made numerous cuts to the film. Some of the unused footage was located in the late 1990's and became the framework for Phantasm IV: Oblivion (1998). The rest of the footage is believed to be lost.

# Don Coscarelli rented all of the filming equipment used to make this movie, always on Fridays so he could use it all weekend and return it on Mondays, all the while only actually having to pay one day's rental on the equipment.

# The film's Turkish title, 'MANYAK', translates to 'Psycho'.

# Filmed at the same mansion location used in Little Girls Blue (1978).

# Don Coscarelli took the title "Phantasm" from the works of Edgar Allan Poe. It is a term frequently used by Poe in his writings.

# The genesis of the story came to Don Coscarelli in a dream. One night, being 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 begin chase.

# To get the inspiration needed, Don Coscarelli spent a couple of weeks in an isolated cabin at the mountains outside Los Angeles while writing the script.

# Don Coscarelli got the idea of The Tall Man's living severed finger while drinking from a styrofoam cup. He punched his finger through the bottom and started moving it. He loved the visual effect of it and decided to include it in the story.

# Although being very tall, standing at 6 feet 4 inches, Angus Scrimm wore suits several sizes smaller and boots with lifts inside that added 3 inches to his height.

# The role of Jody Pearson was originally intended for performer Gregory Harrison who played the title role in Don Coscarelli's first feature Jim the World's Greatest (1976)

# The song played on the front porch by Reggie and Jody, 'Sittin' Here At Midnight', was actually composed by Bill Thornbury himself.

# The spheres were designed by craftsman Willard Green who charged the production a little over $1,100 for his services. Sadly, he died just after production completed and never saw his work on the big screen.

# At the scene near the end when Reggie comes out of the funeral home, the production installed a wind machine with a huge fan blowing to create the effect of a very strong wind. As a joke, A. Michael Baldwin started throwing stones in front of the fan, that went to hit Reggie Bannister and Kathy Lester several times.

# The film was originally rated X by the MPAA because of the famous silver sphere sequence, and because of the man urinating on the floor after falling down dead. Los Angeles Times film critic Charles Champlin made a phone call in a favor to a friend on the board. Thanks to him, Phantasm was downgraded from the original dreaded X-rating to a more acceptable R. Champlin's positive review was quoted on the film's promotional posters.

# Don Coscarelli's mother, novelist Kate Coscarelli, held several titles on the production such as production designer, make-up artist and costume designer, all under various different names. She also wrote a novel adaptation based on the film. It was published in 2002 and only 500 copies were produced.

# Co-Producer Paul Pepperman approached Angus Scrimm at a sneak preview of Kenny & Company (1976) and told him that Don Coscarelli had written a role for him in his next production. When informed that he would be playing an alien, Scrimm became very excited and immediately asked to know what country his character would hail from. Pepperman said: "He's not from another country, he's from another world."

# There are several references to Frank Herbert's Dune, including a bar named "Dune" and a scene where Mike is forced to insert his hand into a black box that inflicts pain as part of a test.

# The 1971 Plymouth Barracuda was chosen because Don Coscarelli remembered a guy in high school had one, and was a little envious of him. A Barracuda was made to look like the Hemi 'Cuda. Bill Thornbury then took the car to a friend of his and had it custom striped so it felt like it was really his car. The true purpose of the car was so the brothers Mike and Jody could have a means of bonding. In fact, A. Michael Baldwin learned to drive in that car, he was only 14 at the time! After the movie was finished, the car was sold, and to this day nobody is sure what really happened to it. As a result the black Hemi 'Cuda became just as much of a hallmark to the series as the chrome spheres.

# The theme song is played by Death Metal band "Entombed" in the middle section of the title track of their debut album, 'Left Hand Path' (1990), before the solos.

# A piece of dialogue is used at the beginning of the song "Guilty Of Being Tight" included in the "Municipal Waste" album "Hazardous Mutation" (2005).

# The line of dialogue "The funeral is about to begin, Sir" was used by Black Metal band "Marduk" in their track 'Hearse', from the album 'World Funeral' (2003), and also by the Death Metal band "The Ravenous" in a track from their first album "Assembled in Blasphemy" (2000).

# The theme song is also played by the legendary Hungarian black metal/thrash band "Tormentor", in the title track "introduction" of their album, released in August 1988.
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