For today’s Origins of My Love of Horror, we come to one of the most insane efforts I had seen at that time, and in some ways is still incredibly odd.
Director Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm came out in 1979. I caught on one of Houston’s UHF stations a year later when I was twelve years old. Even edited for television, it was a batshit insane movie. It was crazy: a tall man overseeing a creepy mausoleum; Jawa-like creatures stealing bodies; a nearly nude woman with a large knife killing people in a graveyard. All of which is just the beginning of even stranger ideas. It was a dizzying mix of science fiction and horror, with a science fiction rationale that mixed with a surreal atmosphere suffusing every frame, rewiring my brain without my understanding of what surrealism was.
Coscarelli went on to make The Beastmaster, Bubba Ho-Tep, and the Masters of Horror episode “Incident On and Off a Mountain Road”. All are worth seeking out.
What is your favorite mix of science fiction and horror? Do you love something even stranger than Phantasm? Let me know in the comments.
Derek Austin Johnson has lived most of his life in the Lone Star State. His work has appeared in The Horror Zine, Rayguns Over Texas!, Horror U.S.A.: Texas, Campfire Macabre, The Dread Machine, and Generation X-ed.
He lives in Central Texas.