I'm a sucker for cult horror, and I always try to give most horror films the benefit of the doubt. Still, when I watch a movie, I expect certain things. Horror is one of the few genres where basic story structure sometimes isn't included, and it turns the film from a potential winner to a mindless slog. Such is the case with Phantasm. This horror "classic" has nothing holding it together. No story, no interesting characters, no memorable performances, nothing. Apart from the intriguing villain, Phantasm never once attempts to make any sort of sense and ends up being not just one of the worst horror movies I've ever seen, but one of the worst movies period.
When young Mike sees the mysterious Tall Man steal the coffin after his friend's funeral, he investigates and learns that the Tall Man is a graverobber with sinister intentions. That's about as much as we ever get, apart from the implication that the Tall Man is either an alien, a demon, or some sort of interdimensional boogeyman. I'm not saying it needs to be spoonfed to the audience, but a little clarity now and then wouldn't hurt. While Angus Scrimm delivers a creepy performance as the Tall Man, he's about the only thing to look forward to. Everyone else delivers typical late 70's cheesy performances, spouting off nonsensical dialogue that meanders us towards a ridiculously underwhelming ending capped off with a predictable final twist. It's just awful.
For some reason, Phantasm is highly regarded in the horror community. I can't imagine why. It's one of the most dreadful horror movies I've ever had to watch. I nearly fell asleep several times due to boredom. When compared to the other iconic and terrifying horror movies that came out around the same time (Halloween and Suspiria, just to name a couple), there's no reason that Phantasm should've been this remarkably terrible. This is one film I'd be in favor of a total remake. All they'd have to do is actually write a script that makes sense.