EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|PHANTOMS (director: Joe Chappelle; screenwriter: from the novel phantoms by Dean R. Koontz/Dean R. Koontz; cinematographer: Richard Clabaugh; editor: Randolph Bricker; music: David Williams; cast: Peter O’Toole (Dr Timothy Flyte), Ben Affleck (Sheriff Bryce Hammond), Joanna Going (Dr Jenny Pailey), Rose McGowan (Lisa Pailey), Liev Schreiber (Deputy Stu Wargle), Clifton Powell (Colonel Copperfield), Nicky Katt (Deputy Steve Shanning); Runtime: 96; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Steven Lane/Michael Leahy/Robert Pringle/Joel Soisson; Dimension Films; 1998)|
thespian Peter O’Toole looks
more out of place in this schlock pic
than the rest of the cast, even though
he's the best thing about this misfire."
by Dennis Schwartz
filmmaker Joe Chappelle ("Halloween: The Curse of
Michael Myers"/"Thieves Quartet"/"Takedown")
directs this atmospheric sci-fi/horror pic that makes
the most of its wintry Rocky Mountain setting and
handles the material of popular horror novelist Dean R. Koontz supposedly better than
were his other novels transferred to screen. It
probably helps that Koontz
worked on the script. But that's not to say
that this is a good film, in fact it's a bad
film with hardly any redeeming features. The
great thespian Peter
O’Toole looks more out
of place in this schlock pic than the rest of
the cast, even though he's the best thing
about this misfire. It's a dumb film about a
nonsensical other-world supernatural plot line
that needs to be explained throughout, tacky
frighting special effects that seem throwbacks
to those cheapie 1950's drive-in B-film sci-fi
thrillers and a talented cast too wooden to
navigate the stupid dialogue as well as the
The town doctor Dr Jenny Pailey (Joanna Going) brings
her troubled alcoholic LA residing younger
sister Lisa Pailey (Rose McGowan) on a
restful ski holiday to her small town of
Snowfield, Colorado, and discovers most of the
population has been mysteriously killed. The
siblings are comforted by the stoic Sheriff Bryce
Affleck); while the viewer
gets comforted by much needed comic relief from the obnoxious lecherous
characterization of Deputy Stu Wargle (Liev Schreiber), who
falls victim to the attack only to return later
looking like he once did but acting even creepier
as he's now an evil force who lashes out with
slimy tentacles at the humans.
After finding a bakery
shop with a bunch of decapitated heads that are
not perceived as human, the survivors deduce it's
the work of the Ancient Enemy,
something that takes the shape of whatever it attacks
and is caused by a mysterious bacteria epidemic. The
authority on such strange stories is Dr Timothy Flyte (Peter
a discredited scholarly professor, specializing in
epidemics, who now in order to survive in the
material world must write about his theories in
cheesy supermarket tabloids.
The gist of the film bores the viewer with the proper speaking Flyte, brought by the FBI to Snowfield with an armed military presence, talking down to us with his haughty Brit accent and in pseudo-scientific jargon letting us know at every twist and turn what's up with these amorphous monsters and their big egos (luring Flyte there to tell the world their story) making them think they can't be killed as if they were gods. But, by golly, Flyte knows his scientific shit and knows how to deal with slimy hissing black snakes being spewed out of the mouths of those it has already inhabited. Any viewer who considers himself a a germ scientist would, of course, know that Flyte is spot-on when he tells us that his genetically engineered bacteria will destroy the Ancient Enemy.
Too bad the pic didn't shoot for camp or comedy, instead of playing such a weak story for real.
REVIEWED ON 1/29/2013 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ