Thursday, December 1, 2011

Grounded for life: PHANTOMS(1998)

What with all the sci-fi and horror movies that feature hostile aliens from space and sea monsters it's always a nice change of pace when I watch a creature feature film about something downright dangerous that lives right under my feet, deep underground. Such is the creature in the book Phantoms, penned by Dean Koontz. In January of 1998 a film was released based on this book, also called Phantoms, directed by Joe Chappelle. I consider the book marvelous. The film? Not so much but it's decent enough. It could have been a lot better but even now I still like to put the DVD of this movie in my DVD player every year or so and watch this movie.

In the film the entire population of Snowfield, Colorado, over four thousand people, has vanished and those remaining are discovered dead by two women, the corpses mottled looking. The two women who discover the corpses, a doctor and her younger sister, are soon joined by a local sheriff and his pair of deputies, the group wandering about the empty town, trying to figure out where everyone is. In the meantime a mysterious, unseen force stalks the group and thwarts every attempt the group makes to exit the eerily quiet, seemingly deserted town.

Eventually a local team of military personnel descend on the town along with an expert in the phenomena of "mass disappearances", tasked with finding out why over four thousand people have vanished. What they discover is an ancient, intelligent, malevolent and ectoplasmic creature, a shape shifting monster responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs. This creature has apparently existed for millions of years in the deepest recesses of the Earth and makes periodic forays to the Earth's feed. (no other spoilers)

Dog gone: this creature infected canine is just one of the many creepy characters from the film PHANTOMS

This movie is sufficiently creepy, much of the suspense and sense of dread in the movie left to the imagination of the viewer during the initial half hour of the movie. There is an effective, well paced buildup of tension including some scenes of shock and gore. The final reveal of the creature's appearance is kind of a disappointment but I like the fact the monster is, in both the book and film, a highly intelligent creature that is not only malevolent in nature but also very sadistic.

The film stars Peter O'Toole, Ben Affleck, Joanna Going, Liev Schrieber and Rose McGowan. Directed by Joe Chappelle based on a screenplay written by Dean Koontz. I own the Dimension Films DVD(1998), the movie presented in a 1:85.1 widescreen aspect ratio. To see this DVD for sale at Amazon click the DVD cover art above or click the title of this blog entry.

The films' trailer: