Where casual film fans are concerned, Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm series is often overlooked when the likes of Halloween, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street head up discussions on classic “modern” horror franchises. But to longtime horror hounds, Coscarelli’s phantastic phranchise is a phirm phavourite of many. With the full five films now brought together for an impressive new Blu-ray collection, let’s take a look at just how the franchise - and this new release - holds up.
Beginning life back in 1979, the original Phantasm introduced audiences to the nefarious Tall Man (Angus Scrimm), an alien being intent on shifting human corpses to his home planet to become his slaves. Helping in his quest are his infamous spheres, his zombie dwarfs, and a whole host of other evil tricks of the trade. When young Mike (A. Michael Baldwin) becomes unnerved and harassed by the Tall Man, he does his best to convince his brother Jody (Bill Thornbury) and pal Reggie (Reggie Bannister) of the existence of this evil presence. From there on out, the franchise as a whole focusses on the ongoing battle to rid the world of the Tall Man and to keep the human race safe from this most heinous of threats.
Upon its release – and even to this day, in fairness – Phantasm remains a truly unique and, quite frankly, bonkers concept that stands out from the crowd when it comes to the world of horror. The series doesn’t always make sense, it doesn’t always flow as it should, and the narrative is never afraid of veering off in completely batshit-crazy directions at the drop of a hat. That doesn’t mean that the franchise isn’t enjoyable, though. Regardless of how small the budget for the majority of the five-picture series is, Phantasm as a franchise is brimming with heart, creativity and invention. Sure, there are missteps, and there most certainly is a whole boatload of cheesiness to certain elements of the movies, but you can’t help but be won over by the enthusiasm and dedication all involved in the films have shown over the years.
The Phantasm series may not be for everybody, but it’s one of those properties where if you like it then you absolutely adore it. And if that is the case for you, dear reader, then this new Blu-ray collection is the ultimate must-have. Not content with throwing a ludicrous amount of special features at fans – with more featurettes and interviews than we could possibly attempt to list, plus the mesmerising Phantasmagoria documentary – this new, crammed release also finds the original 1979 movie given a fancy new restoration courtesy of J.J. Abrams and his team.
With an ever-evolving narrative, characters you find yourselves rooting for, visceral practical SFX work, wince-inducing gore, plenty of laughs, and a consistent score that remains one of the most impressive in the horror genre, the Phantasm franchise is one that is near to the hearts of many longstanding horror fans, and this new collection is the perfect way to bring together 1979’s Phantasm, 1988’s Phantasm II, 1994’s Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead, 1998’s Phantasm IV: Oblivion and last year’s fitting sendoff for star Angus Scrimm, Phantasm: Ravager. Complete with a swanky replica sphere and collectable book, there’s never been a better time to let the Tall Man terrorize your nightmares once again.
Special Features: Audio commentaries / Phantasmagoria documentary / Eight featurettes / Behind-the-scenes / Interviews / Original trailers / TV spots / Radio spots / Deleted scenes / Still gallery / 152-page book / Replica Phantasm sphere
PHANTASM 1 – 5: LIMITED EDITION BLU-RAY COLLECTION / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: DON COSCARELLI, DAVID HARTMAN / STARRING: ANGUS SCRIMM, REGGIE BANNISTER, A. MICHAEL BALDWIN, JAMES LEGROS, BILL THORNBURY, GLORIA LYNNE HENRY / RELEASE DATE: APRIL 24TH