Notable Cast: Michael A. Baldwin, Bill Thornbury, Reggie Bannister, Angus Scrimm, Kathy Lester
“This guy’s not going to leak all over my ice cream, is he?”
As a young horror fan, the Phantasm series was always one that sparked my curiosity and the original film, Phantasm, was one that blended the right amount of horror and humor to be entertaining enough to land in regular rotation. Over the years though, the original film was one that I found myself returning to again and again and with each additional viewing I found that it only got better with time. On the surface, it’s a dark comedy littered with stark visuals and creepy atmospheric moments, but it’s effectively layered in regards to how it navigates a series of thematic approaches to its story. With the release of the Phantasm series in a delightful box set from Well Go USA, it was only my pleasure to have a reason to review one of my favorite cult films for the site. On top of that, this new Bad Robot and director approved remastered version of the film is stunningly well done and a treat for fans – or those new to the entire Phantasm universe.
Michael (Baldwin) is still coping with the loss of his parents and his older brother Jody (Thornbury) may not be around very long to make sure things are right. At the funeral for one of Jody’s friends though, Michael notices that things are not all what they seem to be with the funeral home. One of the workers at the funeral home, a tall man (Scrimm), seems to be up to something and there are other things that seem to go bump in the night. As he starts to investigate, it will take the help of his brother Jody and their friend Reggie (Bannister) to uncover a horrific conspiracy.
|Death is always behind you.|
Of course, it certainly helps when the film is also quite charming and humorous in its dreamlike horror approach. For every scene of intense shock or visual creepiness, there is a sense of dark humor to it all and the cast and writing play up some of the oddities of its story to give it a strange sense of light hearted approach to its themes of death. The performances can range a bit from campy to impressive, but it only plays into the charm and dream like approach of the film. The Tall Man makes some strange faces as he delivers some great one liners and many of the secondary characters can be odd (that includes the hooded dwarves that spew yellow blood) and this is a style that Coscarelli would carry with him throughout most of his career. Again, if you are not willing to buy into the style it can rub an audience the wrong way, but for this reviewer it’s a one-two combination that only makes it more effective.
|A fine tuned moment.|
“You play a good game, boy, but the game is finished. Now you die.”
- Audio Commentary with writer/director Don Coscarelli, co-producer Paul Pepperman and visual consultant Roberto Quezada
- Audio Commentary with Don Coscarelli and actors Michael Baldwin, Angus Scrimm and Bill Thornbury
- Graveyard Carz
- Interviews with Don Coscarelli and Angus Scrimm (Vintage 1979 television interview)
- Deleted Scenes, Interview Outtakes
- PHANTASM Behind-the-Scenes Home Movies with commentary by Don Coscarelli and Reggie Bannister, Additional home movie footage
- TV and Radio Spots
- Introduction, 1989 Convention Appearance, and Fangoria TV Commercial with Angus Scrimm
- Theatrical Trailers, Still Gallery
- DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo, DTS-HD Master Audio Mono