Halloween Vs Phantasm – The Greatest Horror Franchise Ever [Round 1]

Welcome to the Tournament of Terrors, a /Film bracket where we argue about the greatest horror franchise of all time, and you, the readers, get to decide the winners. The rules are simple: two iconic horror movie series enter the ring, each represented by a /Film writer ready to champion them. And you — yes, you, the person reading this right now — will vote on which one gets to move forward. 

You can find all the details, including a schedule for all the showdowns, right here. And here is the complete bracket, so you know where things stand.

But right now, we have bigger fish to fry. Or rather, bigger babysitters to stalk and bigger brains to steal using floating orbs controlled by a supernatural mortician. That's right, round one consists of two horror franchises that couldn't be more different: seminal slasher series "Halloween" (12 movies and counting, with a 13th film due next year) is up against the fantasy-tinged nightmares of "Phantasm" (five movies, with the finale arriving in 2016). 

Which one wins? That's up to you. First, the arguments. And then, you vote! 


I mean, it's "Halloween." End of discussion. It's a horror series that has defined the genre, scared generation after generation, and it still inspires horror creatives to this very day. Nothing says, "October" more than "Halloween." It's got everything you need in a horror movie, including a captivating monster, a killer soundtrack, more than a few laughs, and some fun gore. And you know what? The gore in the original doesn't look half bad considering the movie's age and small budget. "Halloween" keeps it simple (at, least, the first one does, I'm not claiming every sequel is perfect), it doesn't throw in say... a supernatural undertaker who has evil pinball wizard powers and can turn dead people into upsetting-looking zombies. It doesn't need all of the pomp and circumstance when it's dripping with atmosphere. Its perfectly suburban setting seen through the eyes of a voyeur with a need for murder, twists the trick r' treaters and Halloween decorations into something truly menacing. 

But I'm not here just to toot the horn for "Halloween," you all already know what a seminal film it is (and many of the sequels are good too!), I'm also here to psychically destroy "Phantasm," a movie that relies so deeply on being weird that it fully loses the plot. I mean, don't get me wrong, there are some fun scenes in "Phantasm" but does it have the gravitas of the "Halloween" franchise? Absolutely not. Does it have the timeless quality? No. Do kids know who the hell the Tall Man is? Probably not, but I'd bet some real money they know about Michael Myers. Also, I know I already mentioned the "Halloween" soundtrack, but you can't deny how iconic it is. Which asks a vital question: is anything in "Phantasm" really iconic? (Kaylee Dugan)


I'm very aware that "Phantasm" is the underdog here, and that I'm almost certainly fighting a losing battle by sticking up for it. "Halloween" is too famous, its sequels too omnipresent, Michael Myers too well-known even among casual horror filmgoers. But here I am, telling you that Don Coscarelli's "Phantasm" series deserves to win this showdown because none of the five films in the series have a cynical bone in their body. Are they all good? No, some of them are terrible. But each and every one of them was made with care and love and a deep affection for the material, something that cannot be said for virtually any other horror franchise on this bracket.

It helps that the good "Phantasm" movies are really good, blending horror and fantasy into a surreal mish-mash of terrifying imagery and ideas so specific and odd they feel torn from a very personal nightmare. The first "Phantasm" is a bonafide classic of dream logic terror, and its first sequel feels like one of the biggest coups ever pulled off in a studio film — it's weirder, crazier, and produced with a lot more money nearly a decade later. Sure, it's diminishing returns after that, but Coscarelli stuck with the series as a director, and later, a writer/producer, for all five movies, ensuring that the "Phantasm" series remained a singular vision. That cannot be said for the "Halloween" series, which John Carpenter dropped like a burning William Shatner mask as fast as he could, letting increasingly cynical sequels devoid of the original's power dominate the franchise. I'd take a bad "Phantasm" movie, made with real verve and passion, over most of those dreadfully mediocre "Halloween" movies any day. (Jacob Hall)

And Now It's Time to Vote

So there you have it. The arguments have been made. The defenses have been mounted. The attacks have concluded. The ball is now in your court, folks. Using the Twitter poll below (which will close 12 hours after publication of this article), vote for which movie franchise you want to see advance. Will it be "Halloween" or "Phantasm"? Whoever wins will return for the quarterfinals next week, facing off against the winner of the "Child's Play" and "Scream" showdown.