Phantasm – The Contortionist in Lavender

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).

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Remember, this was years before I discovered this book.

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.

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The other is Jody’s bare ass…

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.

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Stunt boobs

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.

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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.

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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.

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I assume she is some sort of contortionist.  Maybe she’s really into yoga.

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Don’t tell this jackass!

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.

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4 Responses to Phantasm – The Contortionist in Lavender

  1. Dr. Jose says:

    Another great post. It’s very easy for this gorehound to forget decades later that at one time, a curious child had to actively seek out these forbidden images in the most unlikeliest of places — namely horror movies. I do believe my first encounter was the hot tub scene in HALLOWEEN II (on home video rental.) Another scene that is indelibly branded upon my brain is from FRIDAY THE 13TH V, involving Debi Sue Voorhees. I remember being almost shocked at how much it showed; years later when I discovered director Danny Steinmann had gotten his start directing adult films, it all made sense to me.

    Speaking of getting caught, my own story of embarrassment: the video store we rented from (when I was just a wee one) had these little circular plastic tags hanging by a hook underneath the movie boxes; you took these tags to the counter and exchanged them for the videos. The tags were only labeled with a four-digit number, very nondescript, so I got the brilliant that I’d give my mom a chip from a ‘suggestive’ movie (under the pretense that it was some run of the mill comedy or horror flick), she’d hand it to the guy at the counter, he’d give her the tape and she’d hand it to me without seeing what it was, no questions asked. A smooth transaction. It was genius really. Except the guy must’ve been familiar with our rental selection habits, because he looked at the tag and, instead of going into the backroom for the tape as I’d hoped, he looked up at my mom and said, “Uh…are you sure you meant to rent this one?” She asked what it was, the guy told her, and she looked at me. My face was burning and my heart kicking like a rabbit. I don’t know how I blurted it out so quickly, but without even thinking I said, “Someone must have switched the tags.” It was a goddamn miracle. I was allowed to grab a different tag, and this time I didn’t try anything sneaky.

    Liked by 1 person

    • drhumpp says:

      That’s quick thinking for a pervert! 🙂

      Seriously though, that’s a great story. I love stuff like that. It was good of your mom to either buy what you were selling or at least let you save face.

      We only had one video store with the tags, but I wasn’t a regular as it was on the other side of town.

      I met Steinmann at a convention in New Jersey and he was one of the friendliest guests I’d ever encountered. We talked about vintage smut for a while and I bought a copy of High Rise. He gave me a poster with it but it got ruined in a recent move. I like the feel that he brought to Friday 5. He shot it like a porn with either nudity or a murder scene every few minutes. The movie is so delightfully absurd…and it’s a good thing to. It was the first in the series that wasn’t even remotely scary.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Tony Parsons says:

    Often it’s the nudity in a horror film that’s more memorable than the horror. I can remember the naked girl in the tent more vividly than any other scene in Humanoids from the Deep!

    Liked by 1 person

    • drhumpp says:

      I agree. Although I’m sure some of this has to do with me. My wife and I had seen a lot of the same movies before we knew each other. She really didn’t remember many instances of nudity whereas I usually remembered an absurd amount of details.

      Liked by 1 person

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