Phantoms (1998)

Phantoms (1998), directed by Joe Chappelle.

I have a strange affection for this "deserted mountain resort town, inexplicable things happening, blob monster creature-feature" movie. Nothing great, but meant to be a pure action/horror film without other pretentions.

Partly it is because I've read a lot of Dean Koontz and like to examine adaptations of his books. I hasten to add: his output is of variable quality and I can't recommend them all. In his social and political critiques he beats the same drum over and over. Sometimes he goes way too sweet with kids and dogs. Blob monsters used to be his staple, but recently he has moved on to the threat of nanotechnology.

No politics or kids in this one, just desperate survival against a cruel, seemingly all-powerful adversary. And a dog. I think it goes over the top toward the end: extravagant human/creature mutations always seem like stealing from The Thing (1982).

A couple of inspired casting choices: Liev Schreiber as the creepy Deputy who is Just Not Right, and Peter O'Toole as the seedy British tabloid journalist who has figured it out. They were lucky to get him.

I've always had a hard time taking Ben Affleck seriously as an actor. He gets in a couple of useful quips here; his character could have loosened up more.

Rose McGowan was close to the center of the Harvey Weinstein rape scandals of 2017, and Affleck was also tainted. She said: "This is the movie I was filming when it happened. I played a 16 year old".

Koontz gets the screenwriting credit and shares "Executive Producer" with Bob and Harvey Weinstein. I hope he has a plaque to that effect; it must be collectable.

I have this on Blu-ray from Echo Bridge with Darkness (2002) and Venom (2005) on the same disc, now out of print. Phantoms is the only one encoded at 1080i60, a clue that the master was prepared for TV broadcast. None have subtitles.