''Phantoms'' is a horror novel by American author DeanKoontz. It takes place in the small Californian mountain town of Snowfield, where doctor Jennifer Paige is taking her younger sister Lisa to live after their mother died of an embolism. It's a picturesque little place, but it doesn't take the sisters long to notice that something's missing--all the people, for starters. They find a few corpses, but most of the town's inhabitants seem to have vanished without a trace. Many of the few bodies they do find obviously died completely terrified, though just ''how'' they died isn't immediately evident.
All the phones are down, but eventually they manage to make a call to the Santa Mira sheriff’s office, which sends up a small group of police officers, who in turn summon an army platoon to investigate the possibility of some kind of chemical warfare. What they find is much worse--an ancient creature that can shape shift into whatever it wants, which has come up to the surface of the Earth to feed and which, thanks to its ability to absorb the thoughts of its victims, believes itself to be the devil. If they can’t find a way to kill it, they’re all going to be lunch sooner or later….
It was made into a film starring Peter O'Toole. And Ben Affleck. [[Film/JayAndSilentBobStrikeBack Who was the bomb in this film.]]
!!''Phantoms'' contains examples of:
* ArtisticLicenseBiology: Oh so much, but see RuleOfScary above. It tries to avert this with Biosan (The biological weapon used to kill the monster), which is based on a RealLife organism made by Ananda Chakrabarty to dissolve oil spills.
* ArtisticLicenseHistory: Quite a few of the "unsolved mass disappearances" mentioned in the book have concrete or at least widely accepted explanations today, and some actually never even happened. They are all at least real myths, but the author's afterword asserts that all of them actually happened and remain unresolved.
* AssholeVictim: Stu Wargle.
* BeethovenWasAnAlienSpy: The Ancient Enemy is apparently responsible for all sorts of real-world historical mass disappearances (including the Roanoke Lost Colony and the Mayans), and is the direct cause of many satanic/demonic mythoi, such as the Greek god Proteus.
* BigBad: The Ancient Enemy.
* BigCreepyCrawlies: A [[MacabreMothMotif giant moth]] flies in through the window, latches onto a guy, siphons out his brain, and eats his face. All in a matter of seconds. So, [[ParanoiaFuel next time that Lunesta moth taps at your window]], don't let it in. For the love of god.
* CombatTentacles: The Ancient Enemy uses one, coated with acid, to [[LosingYourHead decapitate someone]].
* CruelAndUnusualDeath: Pretty much everyone who dies.
* CuriosityKilledTheCast: Especially those not GenreSavvy enough to realize:
* EldritchAbomination: The Ancient Enemy.
* EverybodysDeadDave: Literally. ''Everyone''.
* EvilPhone: The Ancient Enemy likes doing this.
** TheHero - Sheriff Hammond.
** TheLancer - Tal Whitman.
** TheSmartGuy (well, gal actually) - Doctor Jennifer Paige.
** TheBigGuy - Gordy Brogan.
** TheChick - Lisa Paige (somewhat justified in that she's only fourteen).
* ForTheEvulz: The Ancient Enemy's only reason to do anything.
* GhostTown: Snowfield.
* HandSignals: The man in the helicopter uses them to ask where the supplies should be dropped, and Lisa Yamaguchi signals to the survivors to form a circle to show him.
* HellHotel: It didn’t start out this way, but the Ancient Enemy turned the Candleglow Inn into one.
* IronicNurseryTune: The Ancient Enemy uses a child’s voice to sing ‘Jesus Loves Me’.
* ItCanThink: There’s a nasty OhCrap moment when the characters realize the Ancient Enemy is deliberately toying with them. It is revealed later that the creature absorbed the knowledge of its victims.
* NeverGiveTheCaptainAStraightAnswer: Deputy Frank Autry does this when he calls Sheriff Bryce Hammond on the radio after finding a room with bullets on the floor.
* NoBodyLeftBehind: Most of the victims are never found--those that are have often been left solely to freak out the living protagonists.
* OrificeInvasion: Lots of it, in the movie.
* RedEyesTakeWarning: When appearing to Jeeter and Kale in the cave, several of the monstrous forms that the Ancient Enemy takes have red eyes.
* RedshirtArmy: None of the Army CBW division sent to Snowfield survive.
* RuleOfScary: Sure, the Ancient Enemy is a biological impossibility, but it makes for a great story.
* ShapeShifting: The Ancient Enemy.
* SmugSnake: The Ancient Enemy, which believes itself to be a godlike (well, actually Satan-like) entity and commands Timothy Flyte to be its "disciple".
* StressVomit: As a monster dissolves Gordy Brogan's body, Lisa Yamaguchi vomits into a nearby gutter.
* TakeOurWordForIt: Several deaths, particularly of the soldiers, aren't seen -- but they're ''heard'', and the agonized terror of the victims is almost more effective than the deaths we see.
* TheDevilIsALoser: [[spoiler:Though it views itself as an ultimate evil, the Ancient Enemy tends to stoop to a combination of crass obscenity and brutal violence rather than the sort of grandiose scheming one would expect of an UltimateEvil.]]
* TheFilmOfTheBook: The movie was a lackluster trimmed version of the novel.
* UltimateEvil: The Ancient Enemy. It even thinks it’s Satan.
* UncannyValley: In-universe; some of the shapes the Ancient Enemy creates are considered this by the characters.