Kenny & Co. The film that inspired Phantasm.
PLOT - The adventures of Kenny, a young 12 year old boy who lives in a small suburban neighborhood in California just a few days before Halloween. In these up coming days Kenny has his first encounters with love, loss, and finally standing up for what he believes.
LOWDOWN - Back in 2008 after years of waiting (why I honestly have no idea) I FINALLY got around to watching the epic series otherwise known as Phantasm. For years I owned the sequel Phantasm II and always highly enjoyed it even though I had never seen the original or the sequels that followed. One day it was on cable and I dusted off my old VHS copy. Deciding to say what the hell, I went out and bought part 1, 3, and 4 and sat down one afternoon trying to wrap my mind about what these beautifully shot movies were about. In the end part II ended up being my least favorite and the Phantasm movies became a huge epic in my eyes that soon climbed my top five list. Soon after I began to do my research when it came to what other films Don Coscarelli directed. I of course adored the Phantasm movies which I still say I view as one giant movie.
As I dug up his other great films like the amazing Bubba Ho Tep, and stumbled upon a film he made before Phantasm. A film which was really his second venture into filmmaking after Jim The World Greatest. This was a 1970's children's movie with a great dry ahead of it's time semi-adult like sense of humor. A tender coming of age movies that was oozing from the decade it was released in. Right when skateboarding was truly just coming onto the scene, this was a film that highlighted and showcased this new sport.
With players that later on went on to star in Phantasm such as Reggie Bannister, and A. Michael Baldwin. This film was filled with a great cast, most of which came from the three young leads that truly showed what a much simpler time this decade was for children who were carefree, and some what innocent. I love the scene where Sherman explains to Doug and Kenny where babies come from. This is a movie I was able to snag on DVD and is a favorite of mine to watch before Halloween. Here we watch a 12 year old boy in his daily life. The film is filled with memorable moments, one of my favorites when the foreign exchange student learns the word "asshole" and keeps repeating it. The look on Reggie Bannister's face in this scene is priceless. Or when he gives the speech about checking candy before trick or treating and Doug's reaction.
I love the simple little scenes of these boys living in beautiful California and how back then it was perfectly normal to watch the local muscle head work out, or combine all of the sodas to make a really gross looking drink. Like I said, this movie is simple, but a feel good film. It features tender moments, and scene many of its might actually relate to when it comes to our own childhood. What I liked with what Don Coscarelli did was he addressed real issues such as the fear of death and loss, or how innocent a crush can be and the heart break when someone doesn't feel the same way. Little things like Kenny speaking with the older man, the boys witnessing the graphic car accident, or the little things like Doug living with a single parent. This is a movie honestly for anyone but a film I would allow a ten year old to watch. It's cute, funny, and truly a fun watch. I guess this film was HUGE in Japan, like crazy HUGE. Go figure, kids on skateboards...
What I love about this film mostly is the fact it all takes place days before Halloween. Here we get to see the boys making their costumes, carving pumpkins, and after a wonderful very cheesy skateboard montage get to see thousands of them for sale (in California huh?) But for Mr. Coscarelli he knew he was onto something when he watched this film in theaters with an audience. In the scene where the boys are dressed up trick or treating (love the earlier scene of them making the dummy and leaving it in the road. See guys, before I-phones and computers you did dumb wonderful shit like this.) the kids go into a garage which is all dressed up as a haunted house and somebody jumps out at them. Well this pop out got a huge reaction and once Don saw the audience going crazy he wondered if he made a whole movie full of pop outs, and scares which of course later became Phantasm.
Here he took A. Michael Baldwin the highly talented child star and went to work less than a year later. Thanks to this wonderful fun little kid movie we now have one of the greatest horror series of all time. Thank you Kenny and Company. Thanks to you we can witness yet another amazing Phantasm movie!
4 1/2 stars!