[review by JA Kerswell]
|One of the pluses of PHANTOM FUN-WORLD is some 80s-style practical gore effects.|
PHANTOM FUN-WORLD is one of the many recent low-budget slashers that have found a home - and an audience - on popular streaming services such as TUBI. A psycho killer stalks the employees of a soon-to-reopen theme park, wearing a Frankenstein-style mascot mask and carrying a butcher’s knife. Another 80s-style slasher throwback, it sometimes falls short of its ambition. However, at a trim 80s minute running time, there is some fun to be had on this subgenre fairground ride - especially during its comparatively rousing last act.
Back in 1997, a killer wearing the park’s mascot mask brutally killed six people and then vanished. The Phantom Fun World theme park was shut and has lain dormant - until now. Soon to be reopened, testy manager DJanko (Lucas Dunaway) has hired a crew to help him ready the park for its grand reopening. At the urging of her friend Collins (the aptly named Spooky Madison), Andi (Celeste Blandon) goes for an interview and gets a job at the park. She is estranged from her Mom (Kira L. Wilson) and needs the money to take care of her 16-year-old brother Cole (Jace Carson).
On her first night, Andi meets the rest of the staff - but strikes up a blossoming friendship with security guard Noah (Wes Robinson known best for BLAIR WITCH (2016)). Whilst slacking off, the small group play a board game and one of them, Simon (Brandon Wall), tells the real story behind the tragedy back in 1997. He says that the then owner August Ambrose (an extended cameo by the original Jason Ari Lehman) covered up the slaughter executed by his young son Arthur (Evie Canary). Arthur had worn the too-big-for-him Phantom mask and had been mercilessly bullied by the staff. One night he snapped and killed them with a knife. All of it was hushed up by August and the theme park was shuttered. Only now, someone wearing the Phantom mask has returned ahead of the reopening and seems intent on keeping it shut forever …
|The killer (L.C. Holt) stalks the PHANTOM FUN-WORLD.|
There is clearly a lot of affection behind the camera for the classic slasher movie. Unlike some of its contemporaries, it is to be applauded for splashy and effective practical gore effects and some tense cat-and-mouse scenes towards the end of the movie. The spirited retro soundtrack by Frank Dormani is pretty good, too. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts some of the first half of the movie falls a little flat. Some of the dialogue is also a little clunky - an example: “All zombie movies are the same.” “Yeah, they were Mom’s favourites.” The scope of the movie is hampered by its budget, with the eponymous Phantom Fun World looking more like an extended arcade than an outdoor theme park we might have expected. It also suffers some issues with occasionally muffled dialogue and some pretty ropey, albeit mercifully brief, digital effects. As you might expect at this price point, the acting performances vary from good to, well, more amateurish. Blandon is fine as the clearly marked Final Girl, but it is a shame that they made her character such a Debbie Downer. Madison is the standout as the sarcastic, but sparky, best friend. Lehman does most of his acting with his eyebrows. L.C. Holt (whose other credits include Lamb Mask in the excellent home invasion slasher thriller YOU’RE NEXT (2011)) plays the adult Phantom - and he certainly fits the part, towering over the rest of the cast.
PHANTOM FUN-WORLD was shot at nights at the real-life indoor amusement park Gattitown of Lexington, Kentucky. It isn’t going to win any prizes at the hoopla. Still, it is undemanding time and provides a cotton candy slasher sugar rush if you can look past the shortcomings typical of movies at this budget point.
female: 3 / male: 13
1) Male whacked with an axe and eyes gouged
2) Male stabbed in the head with a knife
3) Male has his jaw ripped off
4) Male seen slashed
5) Male seen slashed
6) Male seen slashed
7) Male seen slashed
8) Male has throat slit
9) Male stabbed to death
10) Male stabbed in the neck
11) Female repeatedly bashed against a wall
12) Female slashed with a knife
13) Male stabbed to death
14) Female dies after being stabbed
15) Male beaten to death
16) Male stabbed to death
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