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3.3 out of 5 stars 287 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A heart-stopping, edge-of-your-seat thriller with a hot cast of rising stars, PHANTOMS is the latest from master of suspense, Dean Koontz! Five lone survivors in a devastated town must face the unthinkable: a ferocious force of evil lying below the earth for centuries has surfaced with the power to destroy every human being! Left behind are two sisters, the town sheriff (Academy Award(R)-winner Ben Affleck, GOOD WILL HUNTING), his deputy (Liev Schreiber, SCREAM 2), and a noted tabloid journalist (Peter O'Toole). You're in for a pulse-pounding experience as the survivors race to stop this terrifying threat before it wipes humankind off the face of the earth!


Either Dean Koontz shouldn't adapt his own bestsellers, or his 1983 novel Phantoms was a pack of horror clichés to begin with, or this movie is 15 years past its due date. What might have seemed fresh at the time of Poltergeist now feels like it was made from a derivative script with pages missing. Plagued by reckless leaps of logic, the movie starts with adequately eerie atmosphere and a perversely twisted performance by Scream 2's Liev Schreiber, but decays into a familiar hash of gross-out effects, resulting from the annihilation of a small Colorado town by an evil force known as "The Ancient Enemy." In a dreary role that insults the twilight of his distinguished career, Peter O'Toole plays a paleobiologist whose crackpot ideas have become tabloid fodder, but he holds the key to conquering the beast. Or does he? Sure enough, an obligatory coda leaves room for anticlimactic doubt. Phantoms has a few genuinely creepy highlights, including a devilish beastie resembling an angry flying scorpion, and horror fans will surely find something to admire, but everyone else is advised to proceed with caution and lowered expectations. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Peter O'Toole, Rose McGowan, Joanna Going, Liev Schreiber, Ben Affleck
  • Directors: Joe Chappelle
  • Writers: Dean R. Koontz
  • Producers: Andrew Rona, Bob Weinstein, Dean R. Koontz, Enrique Cerezo, Harvey Weinstein
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Letterboxed, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
  • Studio: E-one
  • DVD Release Date: August 19, 1998
  • Run Time: 96 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (287 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 1558908781
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,858 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Phantoms" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Director: Joe Chappelle

Cast: Ben Affleck, Peter O'Toole, Rose McGowan, Joanna Going, Liev Schreiber, Nicky Katt, Clifton Powell.

Running Time: 91 minutes

Rated R for science-fiction violence, gore, and language.

Dr. Jenny Pailey (Joanna Going) is bringing her younger sister, Lisa (Rose Mcgowan), home from L.A. to the small quiet town of Snowfield, Colorado. It's a peaceful environment to live in, with a population of 400, and the town has some nice ski resorts that make it a popular site during the summer. Upon returning, however, they discover everyone either missing or dead, with bodies that have a strange gooey look to it. They try to leave, but find their car and every other vehicle in town dead. Exploring further, they enter a bakery, where they encounter Sheriff Bryce Hammond (Ben Affleck) and his two deputies, Shanning (Nicky Katt) and Stu Wargle (Liev Schrieber). As they look further into town, they discuss what could have possibly caused this massive disappearance and all these deaths. The mysterious cause behind this hasn't ended, however, and as the night progresses, Shanning is taken by an unseen presence. Hammond and the others must now try to survive the night and hope they can get off a message to the outside world of their plight.

"Phantoms", adapted and written by novelist Dean Koontz, is a surprise on almost every level. It's a well-made thriller from Joe Chappelle, whose only previous major credit was "Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers", usually regarded as the worst of the "Halloween" sequels.
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By A Customer on March 19, 1999
Format: DVD
Phantoms is a very entertaining and scary science fiction horror film. Only a few other films such as Event Horizon and Candyman are as intense as Phantoms. The first half of the movie is probably the scariest and creepiest in horror film history. The movie begins quickly and gets right to the action. Two sisters, played by Joanna Going and Rose Mcgowan, return to the town of Snowfield, Colorado to find most of the inhabitants missing and several gory looking dead bodies. They enter a bakery and meet an out of town sheriff, Bryce Hammond, played well by Ben Affleck, and his deputies Shannon and Wargle, played by Nicky Katt and Liev Schrieber. Liev Schrieber definitely goes all the way with an excellent performance as crazy weirdo Deputy Stu Wargle.
Some chilling scenes in the movie include a giant moth that sucks brain, screams coming from everywhere, strange sounds coming from the town's plumbing system, and dead people that disappear then reappear alive. The scene where the giant moth attacks the survivors in the police station is one of the best in any movie. In the second half, the movie has some more chilling scenes with a high body count, but I was a bit disappointed that the movie ended so quickly. It's 100 minute running time didn't feel like it was long enough to fit all the events that occured in the movie. Dean Koontz also made the mistake of not exploring the thematic elements of the movie more deeply like he did in his novel.
The special effects in the movie were very good. The giant moth looked real and so did the other creatures that appeared. The film isn't as gory as it's reputed to be. Sci-fi horror films like Alien Resurrection and Event Horizon are much bloodier. (Although Event Horizon uses the goriness effectively). Overall, Phantoms is a creepy horror film that holds the viewer at the edge of their seat, especially in the final confrontation between Hammond and a boy.
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Format: VHS Tape
I actually give this one three-and-a-half stars, but I'm rounding-up since so many people unfairly blast this movie for not being the book. The major criticism of Phantoms seems to be that it's "a monster movie," but that's as unfair as criticizing a John Wayne flick for having cowboys in it - defining a picture's genre isn't the same as criticquing it, and if you didn't want a monster movie, why did you want to watch this?
Small-town doctor Joanna Going and kid sister Rose McGowan return to Going's mountain resort community of Snowfield, Colorado, to find everybody missing or horribly dead. Nearby town sheriff Ben Affleck and twisted deputy Liev Schreiber turn up to help them make sense of the mystery. Their only clue leads them to unknown scholarly author Peter O'Toole, whose all but forgotten book on mass disappearances holds the answers they seek.
Derivative, yes - anyone familiar with John Carpenter's The Thing and H. P. Lovecraft's "shoggoths" in At the Mountains of Madness is ahead of the game - but that hardly diminishes the fun of this fast-paced monster movie. It's slick and well-produced, and the cast are quite good in their roles. It bogs down a bit in the second half, but not enough to ruin the marvellous setup and ultimate payoff.
Though the movie couldn't match the book because of necessary limitations, in some ways Dean Koontz's self-adapted screenplay improves upon the novel. For one thing, Colorado has more resort communities of the type Koontz set the story in than his original choice of California. For another, the fate of O'Toole's character in the book is less satisfying than the one he comes to in the film.
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