Drink & Watch: Phantasm II

Now that I get Cinemax as part of my HBO package, I decided to scroll through my On Demand movie list last night after watching game one of the NBA Finals. JACKPOT!!!!!! Phantasm II was available. I've seen the film probably thirty times or so, but it had been at least ten years since my last screening. All I could say to myself after watching the first ten minutes was: "This movie was actually in theaters." Phantasm II (don't even worry about not having seen part I) is so ridiculously weird and unexplainable (in the very best possible ways) that it's hard to even fathom a movie like this being made today. Yet, I saw this movie in theaters back in 1988, having snuck into see it with my friend Ben after purchasing a ticket for a different film. I opened a beer and just sat there in my living room with the front door open, taking in the warm evening air. I texted my buddy Luke not too long after that and wrote: "Watching Phantasm II. This movie was actually in theaters." 

"Where?!" was his reply.

"On Cinemax On Demand."

"I need to upgrade my cable," he answered.

If you subscribe to Cinemax, or if you just want to order it off Amazon video, I highly recommend watching Phantasm II after your significant other has gone to bed. I could go into a long explanation about the plot and the ridiculousness of the script, but it wouldn't make any sense and you'd zone out after two sentences. Here's all you need to know: there's a tall man (who's called "the tall man") who employs an army of dwarves that rob the grave sites at various cemetaries and turn the corpses into minions. What the series of films has become most famous for, however, are the flying silver metallic spheres the tall man carries in his pocket, which he often chooses to unleash on those who get in his way. These balls of death have various blades, drills, and tools with which they can saw into one's skull or torso (as they often do throughout the film). There's something wonderful about drinking on a hot summer night while watching classic eighties horror cinema—something incredibly nostalgic and peaceful, despite the carnage on screen.

While I know plenty of people who have dropped their cable subscription, I still pay for cable because I enjoy the service. I not only like to watch terrible old movies like Phantasm II in high-definition on my gigantic Samsung flatscreen, I like to be surprised by the content. Sure, I could probably order the film off Amazon and funnel it through my Roku box to the big screen, but it's not the same. I enjoy curation. I like looking at what channels are able to put together as a selection and then choose from within those constructs. I never would have thought to watch Phantasm II unless Cinemax had featured it on their list. When I saw it featured, my body surged with excitement; much like how I feel when I hear an old song on the radio versus YouTube. Sure, I can watch it online whenever I choose, but there's something about hearing it on the radio that's more exhilerating. Maybe I'm just old fashioned. 

I've never had a problem paying for cable despite the increase in price over the years. I've always felt like I got my money's worth, but then again I watch a lot of TV—at least two to four hours a day. Could I watch TV on my laptop for much cheaper? Of course, but watching TV on my laptop sucks. There are a lot of things I'd rather pay for and enjoy than scrimp on and save. I'm very lucky in that I have that luxury. I've always felt that paying to check in my bag was worth not having to bring it on the plane (watching people battle for bin space on the flight back from Vegas was nauseating). When I travel, I always book directly through the hotel and pay extra for their customer service rather than use a third party agent. I know plenty of people who shop with us at K&L, even when we're a few bucks higher on a product, because they know they're covered if something goes wrong with the order. Those interactions have come to shape how I feel about customer service in general; namely, if it's important to you, pay for it. 

I talk to different retailers all the time who suffer from "want it both ways" customers: those folks who want the service of a brick and mortar store, but the price of an online competitor. It's a big problem with fashion right now. People go to the department store, bother the sales rep, try on the shoes there, then order off their phone once they know their size. Then they wonder why the store goes out of business six months later. Services cost money. Good service usually costs more. I don't want my quality cable services to go away, hence I pay for them. 

And that's why I had a great time watching Phantasm II last night. Thank you cable!

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll