HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Phantasm (Remastered)
HTS Overall Score:81
Ahhh, the memories. I can still remember watching “Phantasm” over my brother’s shoulders while I was SUPPOSED to be in bed (yeah, I did that a lot actually). I was COMPLETELY petrified as a kid in the 90s and still remember staying up till all hours of the morning not able to sleep just thinking of those flying spheres. Fast forward to about 15 years ago when I got ahold of the old MGM DVD and I remember not being nearly so scared. In fact the plot is almost a little chaotic and hokey at times. That being said, The Tall Man is one of the most iconic horror villains of all time, up there with the greats like Freddy, Jason and Michael Meyers for those who are more into less popular horror classics. Angus Scrimm belting out “BOYYYYYYYYY!!” at the end of the movie still gives me the heebee jeebies and the overall sense of freakish glee that must have been dominating Don Coscarelli’s vision throughout is simply palpable.
I’m actually really surprised that Well Go USA got the rights for the “Phantasm” movies over someone like Scream Factory, Arrow or the like. Well Go USA tends to cater to the Asian subgenre of film making and while they do have some non Asian films in their repertoire, those titles are usually indie dramas. I guess someone was able to do some wheeling and dealing and we actually get to see these long awaited classics once more (except for “Phantasm II” which I believe is still owned by Universal studios and why Scream Factory was able to release it back in 2013). J.J. Abrams himself actually bankrolled the 4K remastering of the film in order to get it out along with 2016’s new “Phantasm: Ravager” (the 5th movie in the franchise) and I’m rather glad that he did. I know Don Coscarelli has been wanting to release these for quite some time, but I was hoping that some remastering and tweaking would be done because the old MGM and Anchor Bay DVDs were NOT the greatest thing to look at.
“Phantasm” is kind of a hard film to describe. It was labeled as one of the most unique horror movies of its time and rightfully so. The movie takes elements of alien invaders from another dimension, creepy looking death Jawas (you have to see the movie to get the joke), body horror and zombie elements as well as classic villains that are horrifying to look at. The plot itself is rather loose and is almost euphoric in the way it plays out. The sense of being inside of a dream is very strong (and strongly supported by the movie at times), and it allows for the viewer to just lose themselves in the bizarre antics of the three main characters.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=86442[/img]Long story shortened. Cocky Jody (Bill Thornbury) is back in town due to a friend’s funeral. He’s not exactly enthused at being back in his home town, where his parents died, but he’s there to show his respects. His younger 13 year old brother Mike (A. Michael Baldwin) is your average curious 13 year old, and while he wasn’t invited to the funeral of Jody’s friend, he manages to sneak into the bushes and witness the tall mortuary owner single handedly lift a 500+ pound casket into the back of the hearse. Later that night he sneaks out to follow his brother who is getting seduced by a creepy blonde woman (who is actually the mortuary Tall Man), only to bring about the focus of the legendary villain. Sending out his demonic beasts, the Tall Man seeks to destroy the two brothers and claim them for his fold.
You see, the Tall Man is actually an alien being from another dimension who is collecting dead people and turning them into demonic zombies which he transports back to his home planet/dimension to use as slave labor. We’ll never know if the two brothers would have been spared their fate had Mike not stumbled upon the funeral that fine day, but all we know is that they have to be the ones who stop the Tall Man and his forces of evil before anyone else is claimed for his nefarious plans.
“Phantasm” is a fun blast from the past, but even I have to admit that there is a sense of chaos to the script. Scenes go together without seeming to push the story along for the first 40 minutes and by the time we get to the Tall Man’s inner fortress and find out the reason for his being there, it’s just rushed through so we can get to the final confrontation. Still, the movie is hilariously awesome in every way and Angus Scrimm is fantastic as the ever foreboding villain throughout the whole series (actually most of the main cast reprises their respective roles in the 4 sequels).
Rated R by the MPAA for nudity, violence and intense scenes
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=86450[/img]“Phantasm” looks REALLY good with this new 4K transfer supervised by Director/Writer Don Cascarelli himself. I had to analyze the disc and it IS put on a BD-25 and only takes up about 13-14 gigs on the disc, but this is leaps and bounds better than the old 90s DVD from back in the day. I sadly don’t have the old DVD to A/B against anymore, but from my memory it’s not even in the same ballpark. The colors are bright, warmer and the color grading seems to have been tweaked just a little bit for this release. The film has always been dark and dingy, but the downside appears to have been some over compression that shows up in the dark scenes with pixilation and murky black levels that blur out some of the fine detail in the shadows. Part of it seems to add some nostalgia to the experience, but noticing the artifacting in the blackness makes it obvious that some over compression was applied to the release. There’s some soft focus effects here and there and some obvious green screen work and super imposition, but all of that has been present on just about every release of “Phantasm” that I’ve ever seen. Overall, the level of detail and sharper colors in the daylight and dimly lit scenes far outweigh the flaws that happen in the dark. A great looking disc that was ALMOST amazing.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=86458[/img]Well Go USA has given us three options to choose from today. The first being a remastered 5.1 DTS-HD MA track to enjoy, as well as a Dolby Digital lossy 2.0 track and the original Mono in 192 kbps Dolby Digital. The purist in me really wish the Mono track had gotten the lossless treatment as well, but I have to say that I really really liked the new 5.1 mix. It’s not a wildly modern 5.1 mix, but it does create a great sense of immersion in the horrific world of Phantasm. The dialog is strong and cleanly replicated up front, although there was a few mild hisses on the top end of the vocal spectrum once or twice. The surrounds are not as active as modern horror flicks, but they get a solid enough workout with ambient noises in the graveyard and the Tall Man’s mortuary. Mostly the synthesized 70’s score fills them out to their true potential with a truly creepy musical set.
• 4K Restoration
• Audio Commentary with Director Don Coscarelli and cast members Michael Baldwin, Angus Scrimm, & Bill Thornbury
• Graveyard Cars
• Interviews from 1979 with Don Coscarelli and Angus Scrimm
• Deleted Scenes
“Phantasm” is one of those seminal 70’s/80’s era horror movies that is simply iconic. The Tall man and the drilling spheres are known to everyone who has ever cracked open a copy of Fangoria, or just walked through the Walmart horror section at any time. The movie is simply bizarre, with a complete lack of cohesive plot and serves to act as strung together list of creepy montages that somehow form together into a loose story. Objectively I have to say the editing is a bit rough, but for some reason that combination just WORKS! The 4K restoration and remastering is a HUGE quality increase and Well Go USA did a rather nice job of making this into a special edition. Great video, good audio and a nice slipcover and cover art to wrap around a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack. Definitely a must buy if you’re even a remote fan of “Phantasm”.
Starring: A. Michael Baldwin, Bill Thornbury, Reggie Bannister
Directed by: Don Coscarelli
Written by: Don Coscarelli
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DD 2.0, English DD Mono
Studio: Well Go USA
Runtime: 90 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: December 6th 2016
Buy Phantasm On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Great Buy
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