My mom had a hot date with this guy named Dick Erskine some Saturday night in the fall of 1981. He had two teenage sons. They were several years older than myself, but we got along okay because we'd bonded over Atari. I was nine-years old. Mom brought me over to their swanky house that night then hit the road with Dick (who, in the long run, revealed himself to truly BE a dick). The two kids had rented a couple of movies. Back then, VCRs were really goddamn rare because they were so expensive. One of the movies was a really gory samurai movie I've long forgotten about, and the other was Phantasm. They turned off the lights and cranked the sound. The film opens with a couple getting it on in a graveyard, and I distinctly recall the older kid laughing and saying, "Hey, Lance, you know what they're doing, right?" I was addicted to re-runs of Benny Hill at the time and I'd developed a pretty good British accent, so using that British accent, I responded, "I'd rather not say!" which cracked them all up. It's 27 years later, and I'm STILL talking about that film, so obviously the experience was pretty powerful. I've come to recognize that much of it's appeal for me is the soundtrack by the late Fred Myrow and Malcolm Seagrave. Don Coscarelli, the film's writer and director, says the following in the soundtrack's liner notes: "...The circumstances surrounding the creation of the score for the original Phantasm were extremely difficult, because Fred faced the challenge of creating over an hour's worth of music on a minuscule budget. Fred, however, managed to turn adversity into advantage. He made up for the lack of financial resources with ingenuity, enthusiasm and energy. Unable to afford any semblance of orchestra and today's sophisticated synthesizers not available at that time, he, and Malcolm Seagrave, assembled a palette of unusual instruments which brought a unique and insidious texture to the score..." I'll say! I love stories like that, because it's exactly those kinds of cruel restrictions which occasionally have impressive results. Yes, there's an actual musical theme to the film which is iconic in its own right, but much of what is heard is simply textures and weird noises. It's two guys hitting wrenches against pieces of metal and dragging screwdrivers across mattress springs, but the effect is unsettling and eerie. The temptation today would overwhelmingly be in favor of scoring the film through any number of music programs, and I think that (as the Phantasm sequels have demonstrated) the results would have been less effective. Here are 4 tracks from that spectacular soundtrack.