Phantoms (1998)

phantoms poster 1998 movie dean r koontz
2.0 Overall Score
Story: 1/10
Acting: 2/10
Visuals: 2/10


Garbled story, not scary

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Phantoms

Studio:  Dimension Films

Genre(s):  Horror

Release Date(s):  January 23, 1998

MPAA Rating:  R


I should come home to visit more, sis!

Dr. Jennifer Paige (Joanna Going) is taking her sister Lisa (Rose McGowan) home to Snowfield, Colorado).  When they arrive, they find the town seemingly deserted…until they start to discover bodies horribly mutilated.  Found by Sheriff Bryce Hammond and his deputies Stu Wargle (Liev Schreiber) and Steve Shanning (Nicky Katt), the women learn that there is something horrible plaguing the town and the truth might be tied to a man named Timothy Flyte (Peter O’Toole).

Directed by Joe Chappelle, Phantoms is a big screen adaptation of Dean Koontz’s horror novel published in 1983. The film was ravaged by critics and performed poorly at the box office.  Due to the so-bad-its-good nature of the film, it does have a small cult following.

I was one of those few people who saw Phantoms in the theater.  I remember the situation was:  wanting to see a movie, having only one movie playing, and having read the book…so I thought how bad could it be.  Phantoms is one of those movies you watch and not only question how it got green-lit, but how it got such big names.


I hate it when moths eat your face…

The story has some potential to be scary, and I do like the idea of these mass disappearances.  The story was based more on the disappearance of the Angikuni Lake fishing village in 1930, but the story was since debunked as urban legend.  Despite this, there have been disappearances like Roanoke, and I think the idea of a mass predator living in the Earth is kind of interesting.  Unfortunately, the film and the book take any interest out of the story and presents a garbled mess.

The cast was pretty young and hot at the time the film was made.  Rose McGowan was coming off of Scream and Liev Schreiber also appeared in Scream.  Ben Affleck was a rising star (and later made fun of his involvement in this movie in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back).  The much lauded and Oscar nominated Peter O’Toole plays the scientist who has all the answers.  None of the actors had the answers in how to turn this into a good movie.


The dead stare of Ben Affleck vs the dead stare of a yellow lab!

The movie also looks quite bad and is loaded with confusing editing.  I like the basic Colorado setting (and wish they had utilized it more), but it is hard to see what is going on in the film with much of it occurring at night and with poor editing.  If the monster had been cool or really visible it might have saved some face, but you really can’t see much of it.

Phantoms is a bad movie that doesn’t have the scares that it should.  It is dull, boring, and a shame that O’Toole was wasted on this (of course he did also make Supergirl).  Dean Koontz movies really have never made a great jump to the screen like King (who also generally makes bad movies, but he makes a lot of them).  Phantoms is one of those movies you can watch and laugh about so it does have that going for it… it just doesn’t have scares.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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