BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review
- Published Date
- by Loron Hays
For the longest time, the Halloween franchise has been “the toppermost of the poppermost” for me. Nothing was more frightening than the bogeyman that Michael Myers was made to be. Well, that was then and people, as they are wont to do, can change their minds. Within me, Horror Hounds and Gore-Gore Girls, a relative sea change has occurred. Halloween is no longer up top.
Badass Sinema Unearthed and all the B-movie glory (and gory) it offers a deplorable reject like me. Maybe. Hell, it’s just something that happened on my way to the vide store. While I still hold Halloween – even through its “downward” spiral – in high regard, it is my opinion that writer/director/editor (and, hell, everyman) Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm series – when it comes to horror and science fiction and favorites and so on – is the preferred herbal brew to keep the buzz a blazing.
Through five films, Angus Scrimm as The Tall Man has been there to crucify any chance I had at a good night’s sleep. And the Ice Cream Man, Reggie (Reggie Bannister) has been hot on his heels. Co-starring Mike (Michael Baldwin) and his older brother Jody (Bill Thornbury), the series has braved the beyond, rampaging straight into oblivion itself and back.
Full of trippy visuals and lucid nightmares involving shiny dagger-bedazzled silver orbs, much of the Phantasm series seems foreign and expressive. It is also wicked as hell. When it really gets going with its madness of turning the dead into hooded dwarves, Phantasm and its sequels never once look back. We are left alone to survive its onslaught. You might not totally "get it" with a single viewing, though. That's okay. Repeat viewings are a must with a film series as compounded as this one.
At its best moments, the Phantasm series is truly existential science fiction seen through a horror lens. In spite of its challenging narrative structures and its endless "dream" moments, the films manage to strike a nerve in audiences young and old alike and develop solid meanings that would eventually see it stretch out across decades. That is indeed something remarkable.
Finally, thanks to Well Go USA, all five films have been housed in ONE supersized edition, complete with hours upon hours of never-before-seen features each uniquely exploring how the franchise was created and how each individual film pushed it further into the void. While there is some previously released archival material included in the new set, Coscarelli has gone out of his way to provide fans with hours of fresh material. Complete with new interviews from the cast and crew, this release is a relative treasure trove of material.
Things get started with the remastered version of Phantasm (1979). What follows – each to their own disc and case – are Phantasm II (1988), Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead (1994), Phantasm IV: Oblivion (1998) and Phantasm: Ravager (2016). There is a bonus disc – making this new box set a total of 6 discs, plus a 120-page compendium book – that seriously does not disappoint in its thoroughness.
From beginning to end, these productions have been a labor of love for damn near everyone involved and, as those involved are having a noticeable blast, it’s way too much fun to not appreciate. We clap. We cheer. We cave. Even if its special effects are limited, you should feel the need to put those hands together. These horror films were fucking made for all the right reasons. Everyone wants to be here. Everyone wants to be involved. And you, as a fan of the series, should want to take it all in. Loyalty in the horror genre speaks volumes.
Phantasm has long been inclusive. With this limited edition box set; however, the series finally gets immersive. Bravo!!!
Home Video Distributor: Well Go USA
Available on Blu-ray - April 11, 2017
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; six-disc set
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A
This is a FANTASTIC-LOOKING release. The colors are solid and – thanks to the new digital scrub – punctuated. Black levels are intense and edges hold their shape. There are several different settings and the transfer handles them all with ease. Daytime sequences – like the slow-motion shot of The Tall Man walking past Reggie as he takes ice cream out of his truck – are bright and full of textures unseen before. Night scenes are as detailed. No crush is seen. These movies are loaded with fine details and responds to the high definition output with intense levels of shadows and grain. Colors are bold and black levels are refined enough to decipher edges and color variations in sand. Due to the low budget, some of the digital effects are a bit weak, but that's to be expected. The audio comes in three separate tracks: English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, 2.0 Dolby Digital, and mono Dolby Digital.
See individual discs for specifics.
On top of the wealth of supplemental material, there is also a 120-page book featuring exclusive interviews and photos that cover the entire warped history of the franchise and its influence in the popular culture. All the sleeves come with reversible artwork, too. Also included is a 21” x 27” reversible poster featuring the iconic original theatrical artwork.
Disc 1 (Phantasm):
Graveyard Carz Episode (12 min)
Interviews from 1979 (29 min)
Phantasm 1979 Trailer
Interview Outtakes (5 min)
Phantasm Behind the Scenes Home Movies (20 min)
Additional Home Movies (20 min)
Angus Scrimm 1989 Convention Appearance (10 min)
Fangoria 1988 Commercial With Angus Scrimm
Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Don Coscarelli, Co-Producer Paul Pepperman and Visual Consultant Robert Quezeda
Audio Commentary features Don Coscarelli, A. Michael Baldwin, Angus Scrimm and Bill Thornbury.
Disc 2 (Phantasm II):
The Ball is Back (47 min)
The Gory Days (23 min)
Deleted Scenes (7 min)
Workprint Scenes (19 min)
Makeup and Effects (9 min)
On the Set (9 min)
Phantasm II Trailer
Phantasm III Trailer
Behind the Scenes (4 min)
Makeup and Effects (3 min)
Posters and Stills
Rare Short Film Featuring Rory Guy (19 min)
Commentary with Director Don Coscarelli and Actors Angus Scrimm and Reggie Bannister
Disc 3 (Phantasm III):
It's Never Over: The Making of Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead (48 min)
Balls of Steel: Bob Ivy's Stunt for the Ages (9 min)
Behind the Scenes Compilation (28 min)
Phantasm III: Behind the Scenes (9 min)
Deleted Scene (1 min)
Still Gallery (4 min)
Audio Commentary with Director Don Coscarelli and Norman Buckley
Audio Commentary with Stars A. Michael Baldwin and Angus Scrimm
Disc 4 (Phantasm IV):
Death is No Escape: The Making of Phantasm IV: Oblivion (48 min)
Behind the Scenes Compilation (31 min)
Phantasm Sequels: Conceptual Art Gallery by Justin Zaharczuk (10 min)
Phantasm IV: Behind the Scenes (11 min)
Behind the Scenes Still Gallery (4 min)
Audio Commentary with Director Don Coscarelli and Actors Reggie Bannister and Angus Scrimm
Disc 5 (Phantasm V):
Behind the Scenes (5 min)
Deleted Scenes (7 min)
Phantasm: Bloopers and Outtakes (9 min)
The Making of Phantasm: Ravager (50 min)
Friendship and Phantasm: An Interview with A. Michael Baldwin (19 min)
The Lady in Lavender: An Interview with Kat Lester (18 min))
The Name is Chunk: An Interview with Stephen Jutras (9 min)
Red Credit Sequence (5 min)
A Moment with the Director (1 min)
Audio Commentary features Don Coscarelli and David Hartman
Disc 6 (Bonus):
Phantasm and You: A Comic Recap of the First Four Films by Ravager Director David Hartman (3 min)
Phantasm Flashback Weekend Chicago Convention Panel Discussion (32 min)
Phantasm Flashback Weekend Chicago Convention Cast Panel (40 min)
Phantasm Flashback Weekend Concert Performance by Kat Lester (6 min)
2016 Fantastic Fest Premiere and Q&A (33 min)
Phantasmagoria: A Documentary and Interviews with the Cast and Crew of Phantasm (102 min)
Phantasmagorical Mystery Tour with Your Host, Reggie Bannister (14 min)
Phantasm Genesis (18 min)
Phandom (18 min)