Phantom Town (1999)
AKA Spooky Town
Starring John Patrick White, Taylor Locke, Lauren Summers, Jim Metzler, Belinda Montgomery, Gabriel Spahiu, Jimmy Herman, Jeff Burr, Iuliana Ciugulea, Dan Badarau
Directed by Jeff Burr
On the general scale:
On the B-movie scale:
Phantom Town may be a simple retelling of the classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers story, but it’s overwhelmingly well-made, and will please all the B-Movie fans in your household. One night, a bunch of home alone kids throw a massive party for their friends. When their mother calls to check on them, they freak out! Hey guys, scram! Mom’s coming home! But this freak-out is nothing compared to the fear that sets in when Mom and Dad’s phone call cuts short as they drive into the mysterious town of Long Hand. They never make it home, so the kids go out the next night to look for signs of what might have happened. Instead, they find the Last Chance Trading Post, where an old Native American man tells them that Long Hand has been gone for a hundred years, and the only way there is to dream your way in. Whoa, man, that’s so heavy!
As is tradition in the Moonbeam films, young children who watch the film will get what is perhaps their first tastes of many things. Things like: the dread of waking up and realizing that your parents are probably dead, the concept of taking matters into your own hands by jumping in a car and sneaking out on your current guardians, the idea that you have a soul and that it can be taken, the thin line that defines one’s mortality, the existential question of meaning… y’know, all the common playground topics. I don’t object to any of these as I’m not a parent, but I can imagine parents these days getting twisted about this stuff being in a supposed family film. If anything, I think it would help kids deal with their fears of soul-stealing alien cowboys, but what do I know?