Ten Things You Might Not Know About … Phantasm!

10. The alien dwarves bear a strong resemblance to the Jawas of Star Wars, but the design for the dwarves was already completed before Star Wars was released.

9.  A significant deleted subplot involved the character of Jody working in the family bank after he had inherited the job from his father, his clashes with the stuffy manager, and had a bigger role for his girlfriend, played by Susan Harper, who was one of the tellers.

8.  In the scene before the funeral, when Jody is confronted by The Tall Man for the first time, Bill Thornbury proved to be nearly as tall as Angus Scrimm, so Scrimm had to perform the scene standing on an apple crate

7.  The idea to create the film came about when Reggie Bannister approached Don Coscarelli with the idea to adapt Ray Bradbury’s novel, Something Wicked This Way Comes, which was to star Michael Baldwin. However, the two learned that very week that Bradbury had sold the novel’s rights to Disney, and so Coscarelli sought an idea for a similar type of project.

6.  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.

5.  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. Though in one scene you can see the designation of 440-6 on the hood. Indicating the car had a 440, with a “six pack” (3 two-barrel carburetors).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, 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

4.  The “ball” scenes were simple special effects. 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.

3.  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.

2.  Don Coscarelli took the title “Phantasm” from the works of Edgar Allan Poe. It is a term frequently used by Poe in his writing

1.  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 1990s and became the framework for Phantasm IV: Oblivion (1998). The rest of the footage is believed to be lost.

William Burns
Staff Writer at Horror News Network

Bill Burns joined the Horror News Network staff in 2014. Bill Burns grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, the second Golden Age of Horror. His mind was warped by John Carpenter, H.P. Lovecraft, In Search Of…, and the Man, Myth, and Magic series of books.


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