Phantoms Preview

Just moving right along in our Now a Major Motion Picture cycle we had quite a conundrum on our hands with Horror/Thriller. There is an obvious champion of the Horror-based-on-a-book genre and it’s called One Missed Call (one of the rare 0% on RT). The movie was based on a Japanese film that was based on a Japanese novel. Unfortunately the book never received an English translation! So we just couldn’t do it. We just couldn’t allow One Missed Call to turn this cycle into a sham. I must read them all, damn it! Another option was Sliver… but that was weird too because it’s an erotic thriller starring Billy Baldwin and Sharon Stone… both of whom we just saw in different BMT films (Fair Game and Basic Instinct 2). No go. Gotta keep it fresh. So instead we chose the freshest film around. A film that Ben Affleck was the bomb in, yo. That’s right! Phantoms! This has always been on our BMT bucket list, so I’m pretty excited. On top of that I’m a huge Stephen King and horror lit fan, so It’ll be nice to be able to expand my repertoire with a Dean Koontz book. I’ve never read one by him. Let’s go!

Phantoms (1998) – BMeTric: 38.7



(Obviously beautiful regression to the mean there with the rating following right along with the number of votes. It has been a while since we’ve seen a nice two plateau plot. This one is basically caused by the rating initially rising more than it should (reaching 5.0 in 2006) countering the rising in votes. After that the votes go through an inflection (going from 3000 to 10000 votes on IMDb is incredibly important for the BMeTric) and then again the rise in rating kind of counters the steady vote rise. Not super interesting, but you can kind of see the shape of the BMeTric in the plots which is kind of cool. Also 40 is solid, surprisingly so in my opinion.)

Leonard Maltin – 2.5 stars – Sisters are frightened to find a Rocky Mountain town totally deserted, except for a few dead bodies; sheriff Affleck shows up to help, followed by scientist O’Toole. The answer is a mysterious underground monster from the beginning of time: intelligent, deadly, and amorphous. Not-bad thriller with good performances, astute use of locations, and some suspenseful scenes.  

(I often facetiously say SPOILER ALERT for mundane details provided by Leonard as a joke, but Jesus Leonard: SPOILER ALERT. How am I supposed to be suspended if I already know that the bad guy is an amorphous underground monster from the beginning of time? Come on!)

Trailer –

(I gotta say, the effects actually look OK from the short trailer. That would be a pleasant surprise. Best part though was Affleck delivering his line as if he’s the postmaster general… cause he’s mailing it in. Ay-o.)

Directors – Joe Chappelle – (BMT: Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers; Phantoms; Notes: Got his shot in film and didn’t work out. Now a TV director and producer of some pretty big and influential shows. Includes The Wire and currently Chicago Fire.)

Writers – Dean R. Koontz (novel & screenplay) – (Known For: Demon Seed; BMT: Phantoms; Hideaway; Notes: Horror author. Still active. Actually has a number of books adapted for film, but almost all had limited or no theatrical release.)

Actors – Peter O’Toole – (Known For: Troy; Stardust; Ratatouille; Lawrence of Arabia; The Last Emperor; The Lion in Winter; How to Steal a Million; Man of La Mancha; Venus; Lassie; FairyTale: A True Story; My Favorite Year; Becket; The Stunt Man; Zulu Dawn; Bright Young Things; The Ruling Class; Goodbye, Mr. Chips; Rosebud; Lord Jim; BMT: Supergirl; Caligula; Casino Royale; King Ralph; Phantoms; Club Paradise; High Spirits; What’s New Pussycat; One Night with the King; Notes:  Nominated for 8 acting Oscars, but never won one. Got an honorary Oscar in 2003. Died in 2013. Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1987 for Worst Supporting Actor for Club Paradise; Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1985 for Worst Actor for Supergirl)

Rose McGowan – (Known For: Scream; Death Proof; Grindhouse; Machete; Planet Terror; The Doom Generation; Class of 1999; Fifty Dead Men Walking; Going All the Way; BMT: Bio-Dome; Conan the Barbarian; Monkeybone; The Black Dahlia; Jawbreaker; Phantoms; Ready to Rumble; Encino Man; Notes: She was part of an Adam Sandler related BMTMZ regarding a casting note for The Do-Over. Love it.)

Also stars Joanna Going and Ben Affleck.

Budget/Gross – N/A / Domestic: $5,624,282

(Truly an unknown budget. Can’t find it anywhere other than some hints that it was a “low-budget” film. It better have been a super low-budget film cause this shit the bed. Opened at #9 in the box office. Not good.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 13% (4/30)

(Hard to comment on a film like this. Released just before RT became big. Looking around you can find a one-star review by Ebert that basically just derides it for being unoriginal. Although, again, he says the effects are pretty good. I’m starting to get excited for this.)

Poster – Spooky Sklog Ghosts (A-)


(This does seem to be the official poster, although you more commonly see the DVD cover. I kinda dig it. Old fashioned. Stark light against a deep black background and organized well. I kinda wish the light was less dominated by white… more green. But it’s good.)

Tagline(s) – For centuries they told us the terror would come from above. We’ve been looking the wrong way. (C+)

(Centuries? Ha, not really. I like what they were going for and way they turn it around at the end is clever. But it’s too long and clunky to get a good grade. Just can’t do it.)

Keyword(s) – town; Top Ten by BMeTric: 47.7 Vehicle 19 (2013); 42.5 Mirror Mirror: The Untold Adventures of Snow White (2012); 38.7 Phantoms (1998); 34.6 The Bay (II) (2012); 32.0 Never Talk to Strangers (1995); 17.8 Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003); 17.7 The Philadelphia Experiment (1984); 16.6 Snow Beast (2011); 15.6 The Village (2004); 14.3 A Night in the Woods (2011);

(Ha, what the hell does this keyword even mean? Like … there is a town in the movie? Weird list with an almost unknown Paul Walker film up top. Also The Village, I suspect, has a village in the film, not quite a town, so also this list is bullshit. I liked Mirror Mirror as well, although that might just be compared to the atrocity that is Snow White and the Huntsman.)

Notes – An adaptation of Phantoms was originally set to be made in the late 1980s/early 1990s by New World Pictures & Allied Vision Entertainment but was shelved after New World filed for bankruptcy. (I bet that would have been an even worse film)

Categorically one of the chief cinematic influences for Konami’s original Silent Hill (1999) on the PS1 and to the series overall, along with Jacob’s Ladder (1990) and Session 9 (2001). (Ha)

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