There aren’t many lifelong horror fans that haven’t found something else to love about the genre beyond the initial thrill of being scared. That’s where most of us started, but I think we can all agree that true chills are few and far between after you’ve been obsessing over horror for years. So why do we stay when so many others just sort of grow out of it? There are tons of reasons ranging from simple nostalgia to beautiful aesthetics, but when I was first getting into the genre, the big secondary reason was nudity.
I wish it was something more profound, but that’s the truth. Horror movies were my first exposure to naked people (aside from one horrifying incident involving walking in on an older relative on the toilet…).
Hunting for nudity as a hobby took some finesse as my parents were much more wary of letting me rent something sexual than they were with violent material. I feel like I became pretty adept at figuring out which movies contained smut without overtly declaring it on the box. It was frustrating when I was wrong, but it was pure elation when you hit the jackpot (Sleepaway Camp 2 comes to mind).
There is some embarrassment to go along with this. Being lazy, sometimes I would leave VHS tapes cued up to memorable dirty parts. I specifically remember someone asking to borrow my copy of Zombie Lake which was cued up to a bus full of school girls skinny dipping in said lake. I’m cool with it now, but in high school, I didn’t really want to be that guy.
This was probably just a long winded justification of my prurient interests, but the point is, I take special notice of nudity in horror movies. This was even more true when I was younger. Which brings me to today’s addition. Phantasm was not a movie I sought out specifically for nudity. Good thing too, the only significant disrobing takes place in the opening minutes.
Here’s how it happened: Some shabby looking guy (Tommy) is making out with a mysterious woman (billed as Lady in Lavender) in the graveyard. They apparently have sex, she raises a dagger past what is possibly a stunt boob and stabs the shabby looking guy before turning into The Tall Man (the film’s main villain).
This is all fine and good and a perfectly acceptable way to start a movie, but let’s take a close look at this sex scene before we move on. First thing to address is the stunt boobs. The breasts seen here aren’t exactly integrated seamlessly. I believe this was the first time I had ever noticed that the breasts I was seeing didn’t belong to the actress portraying the character. No big deal, but I thought I’d throw that out there.
Far more interesting is the sexual position they choose. We get three basic shots to comprise this sex scene. Looking at both characters from the side with only their legs sticking out from behind a headstone, a shot down at Tommy, at a shot looking up at the Lady. We start with side view and both participants’ legs are outstretched. First thought is maybe they’re still involved in foreplay and haven’t actually gotten down to business yet. I suppose it’s physically possible, but I don’t think so.
Next we cut to the two participants. They clearly appear to be in the throws of passion at this point. Notice here how the lady is sitting up on Tommy. No actual transition was shown, but I’ll let that slide. It’s not that kind of movie. In order to do this comfortably though, she should probably be supported on her knees which should be around his waist or higher.
Cut back to the side view and we see that her legs are still fully extended. We even cut back to see her enjoying herself more and she still appears to be sitting upright. How is she doing that? I wish that I could see through that headstone because it appears that her back is bent at just about a 90 degree angle to pull this off. I have a hard enough time doing that when I’m bending my back the right way.
I assume she is some sort of contortionist. Maybe she’s really into yoga.
I’m probably being overly critical here. It’s easy to make fun of other people when they’re naked. And look at Tommy. He’s obviously enjoying himself enough that he doesn’t notice when the woman he was having sex with stabs him and turns into an old man.
I don’t necessarily think this is a bad moment. Just a curious one that I am proud to put in my collection. Some of this clumsiness is part of what makes Phantasm so endearing. It’s like when a kid tells a story. They might not have the technique down, but you can’t beat the sincerity and enthusiasm.