"Booooyyyyyyyyyy!" Now this is livin' large in the summertime: two phantom-based cult classics of the 1970s on the big screen for Cinema Overdrive. Both are a bit different and a bit campy and still have plenty of opportunity to give you the creeps.
First up is Brian DePalma's 1974 film Phantom of the Paradise, a twisted take on The Phantom of the Opera and Faust that will convince you Paul Williams can be evil. Attempting to describe the logic of the plot is a fool's errand, but suffice to say it involves a betrayed and vengeful musician (William Finley) in a bird mask seeking vengeance on a record producer (Williams) while attempting to protect young singer Jessica Harper and taking down such "talents" as Gerrit Graham's campy rock star Beef. Silly and bloody in equal measure, it's a rock goof filled with memorable images and oddness.
It's followed by 1979's Phantasm, originator of the "Boooyyyyy!" quote above. The logic of this one is even harder to parse, but it involves a kid who stumbles across a very tall, very evil undertaker played by Angus Scrimm, one of those character actors whose mere appearance is better than any special effect. This undertaker, known as the Tall Man, has a little silver sphere that's very good at blood-draining and comes from a strange world where he makes corpse-dwarves. Yes, you read that correctly. Written and directed by Don Coscarelli (who also did The Beastmaster and the Bruce Campbell Elvis-vs.-mummy flick Bubba Ho-Tep), Phantasm spawned three sequels and a good amount of merchandise, not to mention a permanent place of honor for Scrimm at horror and fantasy conventions (friends of mine who've met him say he's quite friendly and grandfatherly). You can experience this phantom-tastic double feature starting at 9:30 p.m. for a mere $8.50. —Zack Smith