In Jeffrey Cooper’s book The Nightmare on Elm Street Companion: The Official Guide to America’s Favorite Fiend, director Wes Craven describes a new direction in horror, saying that he’s pioneering a new territory which blurs the lines between the real world and the dream world.
Of course, he’s talking about his own movie A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), but he could just as easily be describing Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm (1979). I’m not knocking the first Elm Street movie, but I think it owes something to Don Coscarelli’s sublime, dream-like film.
Here are the endings to both films. (Note: The Spoilers! statue of limitations expires after 15 years, so “Spoilers!” does not apply.)
(note: I couldn’t get find the Elm Street final scene online, so I had to post this slightly different version without the car turning on the kids. But you get the idea.)
This side-by-side screening was supposed to be part of KEVIN GEEKS OUT ABOUT DUMMY DEATHS, but we cut Phantasm in the interest of showing more dummy deaths. (A decision I stand by.)
Arguably, Craven’s use of the dummy gives his scene an added punch and a not-quite-real dream quality. But Coscarelli knows how to make the most of Monster Hands.
This comparison was previously included in my AMC video-essay about SCARY SCIENCE-FICTION, where we even do the bit with monster hands.
Watch the episode, it’s only two and a half minutes, and it’s one of the best looking ones we did (tip o’ the hat to DP Jeremy Carr, editor Eric Hendricks and the actor’s actor, Mike Birch.)
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