It was made 13 years later (1986) and was marketed on video as a slasher film which it absolutely is not. The image you see on the cover (copied from the original VHS tape) doesn't even remotely occur in the film. Yes there is a serial killer and a couple of women die but, that's not what the film is really about. The movie is set in Dublin and it deals with one woman's attitudes toward men and sex in then contemporary Ireland. The central character of Patricia (Moira Harris) is a country girl who goes to Dublin to make her way and to escape her parochial family who have other plans for her. Although she is savvy enough to be wary of most men, she is still on the lookout for Mr Right. While there she becomes interested in an American writer (Timothy Bottoms) and becomes the target of the "phone killer" who has murdered Bottom's wife along with several other women. Could it possibly be Bottoms and if it isn't then who is it?
Writer-director Hardy takes this scenario and invests it with pungent observations on the nature of relationships especially from a woman's point of view. He also explores the darker side of sexuality as the titular character is obsessed with recreating a famous nude painting by Francois Boucher of Louis XIV's mistress (who happened to be Irish). This gives the film the elements of an Italian "giallo" but if you've come looking for a typical slice and dice offering than forget it. As was evident from THE WICKER MAN, Robin Hardy has more on his mind than just a simple crime story. It is full of eccentric, occasionaly humorous touches including a truly bizarre "spanking" scene (not from Mr Bottoms by the way). It also has a hurried, unsatisfying ending which is why the 3 star rating. Still THE FANTASIST has something to say and should be seen for its social observations alone. It's a hard film to categorize and, as such, will have a very limited appeal.