The moment I first heard that a fifth Phantasm film would become an actual reality, I knew that things were winding down for the gang. Angus Scrimm was a man deep into his 80s. Father Time has been catching up with Reggie Bannister for a number of years as well. And really, how much more of the story could Don Coscarelli have crammed into that head of his?
All signs pointed to a closing chapter for Phantasm, and now, fast forward a few years and we’re seeing that that is likely our reality today. Sadly, Angus Scrimm passed on last year at 89 years of age. Don Coscarelli – for the first time – chose not to be the man focally writing and directing; he handed the reigns over, and that said quite a bit for the franchise as well.
But here’s the thing, even though Phantasm’s days are over, at least in regards to new adventures with the old gang – we fans were treated to an amazing run that time can do nothing but preserve. And while Phantasm: Ravager has a very different feel to the film, and seems as though it were handled in a way that Coscarelli himself may not have handled things, it’s still a bat-shit crazy production that has a heart and makes a very real bid at shocking viewers by introducing an entirely new possibility for The Tall Man’s existence and actions.
What if it was all a distorted dream, concocted in a failing brain… dementia captaining a once-sharp ship?
Maybe we’ll never truly know.
Phantasm – The Movie:
Phantasm arrived as the 70s were picking up their walking papers. On a grand commercial level it went greatly unnoticed, but in the inner circles of horror fans and hardcore film buffs, the movie was instantly growing into something strange and beautifully special. It often makes very little sense, and details often become murky, or flat out change from one moment to the next, but it’s that zany unpredictability that made fans fall in love with the picture. No man alive should be able to inject about 20 different key ideas into a horror movie and then make them successfully work, but Don Coscarelli did it, and it ignited a beautiful fire that’s still burning today, in 2017.
Phantasm Bonus Supplements
- Graveyard Carz
- Interviews with Don Coscarelli and Angus Scrimm –
It’s awesome to see Coscarelli put on the spot. He handles himself well, especially for a young filmmaker. Seeing Scrimm loosen up and very upbeat and well, not-The Tall Man.
- Deleted Scenes –
There are a few quality scenes here, and I absolutely love the unity between onscreen brothers. Seeing the inner workings of Reggie’s Ice Cream, Reg’s personal parlor, is money in the bank that deserved a home in the original theatrical release of the film.
- Interview Outtakes
- Phantasm: Behind the Scenes Home Movies
- Additional Home Videos
- TV Spots
- Radio Spots
- Angus Scrimm 1989 Convention Appearance
- Fangoria TV Commercial with Angus Scrimm
- Theatrical Trailer
- Remastered Trailer –
The remastered trailer looks and sounds beautiful.
- Still Gallery
NOTE: The first Phantasm opens with an old intro from Angus Scrimm, and that sets a perfectly personal tone.
Phantasm II – The Movie:
Phantasm II is no doubt the biggest, glossiest film in the franchise. Don and the gang had a considerably larger budget to work with on the sequel, and fortunately for fans, a lot of that money went into some amazing special effects, what have always been a firm cornerstone of the franchise. The film, which looks nice and sharp here, even if the sound mix doesn’t sound as though it’s quite as crisp as what we heard from the first film in the set, always delivers huge action and does – in an outlandish manner – move the story forward. The casting swap that saw A. Michael Baldwin dropped in favor of James Le Gros really didn’t sit well with fans, and it made for a different dynamic once Reggie shared the frame with Mike, but Le Gros still managed to do a fine job. As we all know now, the casting swap was a very temporary deal.
Phantasm II Bonus Supplements
- The Ball is Back (The Making of Phantasm II)
This is an excellent, 46-minute long featurette that gets into a lot of great production detail with the greatest focus on the special effects. It’s nice to see the ball back!
- The Gory Days
- Deleted Scenes
- Workprint Scenes –
This feature offers up about 20 minutes of alternate and unused footage from the pic. There’s some surprisingly impressive work that found itself stranded on the cutting room floor. An excellent bonus feature here.
- TV Spots
- Behind the Scenes:
- Makeup & Effects
- On the Set
This final little sliver of awesomeness really gives a nice, warm and personal impression; it’s almost as though you were there on set. Gotta love this!
Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead – The Movie:
Like each of the other two films before it, Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead looks awesome, and it’s nice to see A. Michael Baldwin back in front of the cameras reprising the iconic role of Mike. The special effects are every bit as elaborate yet improvised here as they have been in previous installments, and that means we get a nice tangible feel from the gooey moments. But there are also some very compelling new characters introduced in the flick, and they’re just about impossible to ignore. For better or worse, these are noteworthy additions to a franchise that really breathes because of character interaction and a cohesive vision. It could have been risky introducing a few of these players, but such is not the case. The risk was just a formality, the reward was destiny.
Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead Bonus Supplements
- It’s Never Over: The Making of Phantasm III
Again, the real marquee supplement is the 45 minute documentary that chronicles the film’s creation. It’s detailed and some of the challenges of the filmmaking process are brought to light, along with the ingenuity it required to overcome unexpected obstacles. What we take away from this segment is the fact that everyone involved in this franchise is so completely invested that they’re willing to do anything and everything to make the Phantasm films as amazing as they can be. Thus far, the approach has worked, and then some.
- Balls of Steel
- Behind the Scenes Compilation
- Phantasm III Behind the Scenes
- Deleted Scene
- Radio Spot
- Still Gallery
The still gallery features a lot of cool stills that aren’t easily unearthed online. For a disc with somewhat limited bonus materials (when compared to most of the others in this package), the gallery is a welcomed treat. These aren’t the typical Google Image matches, here.
Phantasm IV: Oblivion – The Movie:
Phantasm IV often feels desolate as a result of Reggie and Mike spending extended periods of time in separate places, in search of the same final result. However, Don Coscarelli seemed to really attempt to bring the franchise to a definitive close all while maintaining a hint of ambiguity that followers of the franchise have come to bank on. Oblivion may not be the greatest film in the franchise, but it does some extremely interesting things (it’s extremely interesting seeing Angus Scrimm given the chance to play what is essentially an entirely different individual, Jebediah Morningside), and even if every tactic doesn’t produce the irrefutable answers to the questions we all have, it is clear that Don may have known that a fifth film might never see the light of day, and he wanted to fill in some of the holes we’ve contemplated throughout the movies.
Phantasm IV: Oblivion Bonus Supplements
- Death is No Escape (The Making of Phantasm IV)
We get an amazing story of a proposed film, Phantasm 1999, which would have taken the story in an insane and massive direction. This isn’t common news among Phantasm fans, which makes this featurette absolutely priceless. Getting an in depth look at that proposed film is extremely compelling.
The greatness of this specific bonus featurette however, is the fact that after we spend plenty of time discussing the proposed Phantasm 1999, we really get into the ins and outs of Oblivion. It’s just one massive information dump on the viewer and to call it gratifying is a big undersell.
- Behind the Scenes Compilation
- Phantasm Sequels Conceptual Art Gallery
- Phantasm IV: Behind the Scenes
- Behind the Scenes Still Gallery
Phantasm: Ravager – The Movie:
There’s no denying that Phantasm: Ravager has a look that differs from Coscarelli’s films. I think a lot of the grandiose shots presented in Ravager may not have been included had Coscarelli been the lone chief behind the camera. This franchise closer delivers more ambiguity, and a new subplot that while clever, feels like a little bit of a potential cop-out. But in the end, director David Hartman does a pretty impressive job of mimicking the frantic and uncontrollable tones and directions established over the first four features. These are wild, over the top movies, and Hartman really got that right. Ravager isn’t my favorite in the series, but it’s awkwardness feels… awkwardly appropriate in a good number of scenes, and I can take that, and walk away happy, knowing that the Phantasm gang did everything they could for us, the lowly fans who fell in love with outlandish film decades ago.
Phantasm: Ravager Bonus Supplements
- The Making of Phantasm: Ravager
Ravager feels like a different project entirely when compared with the rest of the franchise, and interestingly enough, even the making of featurette is structured differently. We get some direct insight, but instead of those involved with the production eating up camera time as they explain certain things, most of the information is delivered in the form of onscreen notations. It feels about as distant from everything else Phantasm related, and that’s strange, flat out. Seeing Don and Reggie and a few other familiars is great, but there’s something missing from this featurette that leaves me feeling a little disappointed. It’s still very much worth a watch, it just doesn’t have that same familial feel to it.
- Friendship and Phantasm
This is a nice piece that gets things back to a close, intimate level. A. Michael Baldwin gets very personal and he lets his heart slide right onto his sleeve as he discusses the film, the fans and the connection between all. It’s a very enlightening little feature, and this disc, because the film and the making of featurette feel so atypical that we need that connection that’s fueled the franchise from the get-go. Baldwin is terrific and organic, and I respect the hell out of that.
- The Lady in Lavender
- The Name is Chunk
- Behind the Scenes Promo
This is actually an exceptional promo. Spending as much time as I do writing on the genre and covering news, I’m a little baffled that I never saw this extra make its way online. Fans are going to eat this quickie up!
- Red Credit Sequence
I admit, I enjoyed this kinda-vintage/kinda-grindhouse/kinda-video gameesque rendition of the credit sequence. It looks cool, and a few shots just look brilliant.
- Deleted Scenes
- Deleted Scenes with Commentary
Here’s a quick rundown of the bonus materials on the final, full bonus disc.
- Phantasm and You: A Comic Recap of the First Four Films By Phantasm Ravager Director David Hartman
A fun vintage recap of the first four films. There’s a lot of personality in this informative segment, and it is admittedly successful in summarizing the franchise.
- Phantasm Flashback Weekend Chicago Convention Panel Discussion (2008)
- Phantasm Flashback Weekend Chicago Convention Cast Panel 2014
- Phantasm Flashback Weekend Concert Performance by Kat Lester
The Lady in Lavender herself steps on stage to sing a franchise related tune that, with improved sound quality, would probably sound pretty damn impressive. It’s appropriately eerie, and I can get behind that, as well as her sultry voice.
- 2016 Fantastic Fest Premiere and Q&A
While the Q&A session doesn’t yield any groundbreaking info, Bill Thornbury and Kat Lester do perform a live rendition of “Sitting Here at Midnight” and it is money. The song has always been great, and it’s inspiring seeing Bill still give it all he’s got. Classic track.
- Phantasmagoria: A Documentary and Interviews with Cast and Crew of Phantasm
An older documentary that makes for solid entertainment (it’s a feature length picture) though you’ve likely heard just about every story and fact shared in this specific chunk of film.
- Phantasmagorical Mystery Tour with Host Reggie Bannister
An easy going trek through time, Reggie Bannister revisits an assortment of different filming locations that were featured in the franchise. It’s a fine special that a lot of borderline lunatic fans are going to memorize as they prepare to walk in the shoes of an idol.
- Phantasm Genesis
Phantasm Compendium: A Behind the Scenes Journey into the Phantasm Films
This bonus book, written by Ben Wan with a heartfelt introduction from Don Coscarelli, really opens another side of the Phantasm gang. We get some fine interviews and anecdotes, and through it all there’s a very real, very detectable passion to this book. It’s the perfect lunch-break read, if you don’t mind battling back a few emotions for one of your favorite film franchises. And, if the emotions do begin to feel a little heavy, jump to the midway point of the book and climb into Reggie Bannister’s constantly upbeat mind. The man has some great things to say.
Be sure to order your copy of the Phantasm box set. It truly is a must-own for loyal fans and hungry young horror hounds alike.