A young boy named Michael loses his brother Tommy to suicide, shortly after losing his parents, leaving him with just his older brother Jody and friendly icecream man Reggie as support. Terrified that Jody will leave him, he begins snooping around, only to find that there are some very strange things going on at the local cemetary... and maybe Tommy's death isn't so easily explained.
This is one of those movies that I remember really liking the first time I saw it and being disappointed with its sequels, but then ten years later liking the sequels a lot more.
I really like all the weird monsters in this. You never know what to expect next, and some of the critters are quite unique. The sphere never gets old, and it's easy to see why it went on to be used (and improved) in all the sequels.
I also really like Reggie, who is an interesting character because he is such an atypical hero.
Finally, I really liked the scenes at the beginning that focus on Michael snooping around trying to figure out whether or not his brother plans on abandoning him, and the part at the end where you get a glimpse of an alien dimension.
The middle and ending of the movie however have some problems. It's impossible to tell what is going on in this movie, because people die and come back to life constantly and the only explanation was, "it was a dream." It just seemed to me that the movie was cut down a lot, and while they did they best they could to tie it all up, not much could be done. People praise it as having this nightmarish quality, but it's more like a patchwork of "nightmare scenes" from movies, rather than real nightmares you might have (Suspiria and The Beyond are much better examples of nightmarish horror films).
As it is, Phantasm laid the ground work for two really fantastic movies, and is not a bad movie on its own. Certainly worth spending an afternoon on!