Horrorfest 2014 Presents: Phantoms (1998, Joe Chappelle)

Too bad the creature storming a remote Colorado ski town takes on the knowledge of its victims. The people it mercilessly devoured went to their gross goo covered graves thinking they had been eaten by the devil. Which doesn’t make a lot of sense, although maybe when one is being eaten whole by a monster one lacks the time to think properly. Such is Phantoms, a campy yet surprisingly enjoyable horror film that has gotten endless bad reviews since its release. And of course praise in the form of “Affleck was the bomb in Phantoms, yo.”

Before he started directing quality movies and winning Oscars Ben Affleck bounced from one poorly reviewed film to another. Nevermind that Phantoms is actually good, undeserving of the hate it received. You have Rose McGowan being gorgeous, Affleck offering steely resolve, Peter O’Toole wonderfully hamming it up and Liev Schreiber acting creepy. All in one monster movie filled package that wisely borrowed from other previous and better films.

You have references to Tremors and The Blob remake in addition to some scenes reminding me of 28 Days Later which is funny considering Phantoms came first. Sure there is some awful dialogue and the ending is weak and a tad standard by modern horror conventions. However the film maintains a good level of atmosphere and it also wisely keeps the monster mostly under wraps. Every year I view one horror film that actually turns out to be a gem that wasn’t fairly received, and this year I think its Phantoms.

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