Monday, July 9, 2012

Phantoms (1998)


Dean R. Koontz - a name both makes ordinary people happy and hardcore literature fans sad and whiny. Almost anyway. I read a lot of Koontz as a kid and sometimes I think back to his books with fondness. Maybe you who are his fans might think I'm unfair when I claim he's a poor mans Stephen King, but with an unhealthy obsession with golden retrievers. That's not a bad thing, because when King sometimes starts ranting for 100 pages about a small detail Koontz explains that with a few paragraphs. Successful movie adaptations of his novels has never taken off - it started with the nice Demon Seed and since then it's never been the same really. So that's why I'm gonna write about one of my favourites, Phantoms - a monster movie for the Scream-generation starring Ben Affleck, Rose McGowan and Liev Schreiber. And Peter O'Toole of course, close to 120 years old when he made this flick.

Lisa and Jennifer, two sisters, arrives to their old hometown only to find everyone gone or butchered in the must macabre ways. Luckily for them 13 year old sheriff Ben Affleck shows up with his perverted necrophilia-interested deputy Liev Schreiber to save the day - but hey, it won't take long until everyone - except the stars - is dead and buried and Peter O' Toole enters the story. He plays a speculative journalist obsessed with "The Ancient Enemy", the unknown force who's responsible for all the mass disappearances through the ages. And FBI think it's this force, a giant worm-like energy and brain-sucking monster who's behind it all! Now they have to overpower the monster with intelligence - and a lot of shooting at random scary objects!

Phantoms is actually a really trash big budget monster movie who steals (I don't remember how original the novel is) from a lot of other movies, but that's just fine with me because I want monsters and mayhem, tentacles and slime - and giant insects, and blood and harmless gore. That's why this movie is so damn good in it's own little way. That infamous (I know some forum-geeks hate that word, because they have no imagination themselves to understand what a "great atmosphere" can be in a movie) atmosphere is actually good to, which is odd coming from the weakest part in the Halloween franchise, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers.

Talking about stealing scenes - there's stuff that's almost identical to John Carpenters The Thing, Chuck Russell's The Blob and, believe it or not, Joe Dante's The Howling - the last scene to be more exact. Hardly not an original idea, but I always confuse these two bar-scenes with each other.

But Phantoms still manages to be it's own good movie and even if all the actors playing cops looks around 20 years too young, they're doing fine. Ben Affleck shows already here what a good charismatic (yes, that's 100 % true) actor and hero he is. It would have been easy, like - more or less - Schreiber to joke away the movie, be more over-the-top and silly, but Ben does what he does good here and he's a good anchor for us in the audience. Peter O'Toole, I love the guy, but it's quite obvious here that he's not really "in" the movie. He's having troubles delivering the dialogue convincingly, probably because it's very silly and unconvincing - except in the last little speech he as before the final monster-showdown. That's good stuff.

Once again, this is an underrated movie. It's a lot of fun, has nice monsters and tentacles and a story that goes directly to the mystery and action without a boring set-up. Is this out on BD? I would love to upgrade my crappy Swedish DVD!

7 comments:

Jesper said...

Eventhough it's an underrated movie I don't think i've read a single review that talks trash about this one. On the other hand I haven't read any newspapers reviews of it. Fun flick and great review as always!

Ninja Dixon said...

Nowadays is a whole different story. People are often stupid but then change their minds. The internet has embraced this movie, just like they did with Halloween 3.

Jesper said...

But I always hated H3, not just beacause there were no Myers...Maybe I have to give that movie one last chance!

Ninja Dixon said...

Well, it's not really a Michael Myers Halloween-movie either. So he shouldn't be in it. The title was something the distributors insisted on.

Personally I think it's one of the few and original eighties horror movies made.

Anonymous said...

"Maybe you who are his fans might think I'm unfair when I claim he's a poor mans Stephen King, but with an unhealthy obsession with golden retrievers."

Never been a huge fan, but he writes entertaining stuff.


"Phantoms is actually a really trash big budget monster movie who steals (I don't remember how original the novel is) from a lot of other movies, but that's just fine with me because I want monsters and mayhem, tentacles and slime - and giant insects, and blood and harmless gore."

When you write stuff like this, I want to see the film in question.

Never seen Phantoms....


Good review ninja, any Ernest Borgnine reviews coming up..?

Megatron

Tommy Söderberg said...

I Think this was the first movie I ever saw based on Koontz. At least the first where I realized it was Koontz.. Ok flick as I remember it.

forestofthedead said...

Love the book, have enjoyed a lot of Koontz novels.
And I love this movie, it's a lot of fun.