Phantasm (1979) blu-ray boxset (horror Blu-ray review)

When I’m handed a 5 blu-ray set of discs of the ‘Phantasm’, I had to give some thought on how to review them. Doing them all collectively is likely to give a long review and risk being struck by one of the Tall Man’s silver balls in not giving enough care and attention to each film. One a week seemed appropriate.

I never saw ‘Phantasm’ when it first came out and this is my first viewing. I knew of it, of course. Back in the day, I was a regular reader of ‘Fangoria’, although I rarely saw any of the associated horror films, it did equip me with a lot of knowledge about them.

In many respects, ‘Phantasm’ follows the pattern of the boogie man/creature horror trope. This particular person is an undertaker by trade although that’s only his day job. Beyond that, he stalks various people in an intimidating way, eventually getting them. Although he’s described as the Tall Man (as played by Angus Scrimm) in the credits, he receives no name in the film. Over 6 feet tall with an intimidating stare, he’s also extremely strong, able to move a full coffin in his hands and never think you’ll get away. He’ll always get you in the end, booooooy!

Although the film is dated to the late 1970s purely by fashion and haircuts, ‘Phantasm’ still works and will make you jump in the right places. A demonstration that horror films don’t age as much as contemporary genres.

There are a multitude of extras. The first of five parts spread over the disks is at 27 minutes is ‘Reflections Of Fear: Realising Phantasm’, explores the origin of the film from production to actors. The next compares the actors from then to what they look like today amongst other things, like the accident of the ‘Star Wars’ Jawas having the same clothes as the dwarves in ‘Phantasm’. The 1979 TV half hour interview by George Capewell with director/writer Don Coscarelli and actor Angus Scrimm is interesting by their surprise at the film’s success.

20 minutes of behind the scenes material originally recorded by their soundman, Michael Gross using an early video camera, with commentary by Don Coscarelli and Reggie Bannister includes showing how the sphere effects were made. The old white house used was also used in ‘Burnt Offerings’ (1976), which I reviewed last year.

As a finale, there are 6 deleted scenes that you can discuss why they were taken out.

To my mind, the extras are always the icing on the cake. With over 90 minutes worth you get dealt a full hand. You might be able to see most film on TV but getting additional material teaches far more. Oddly, I can’t recall ‘Phantasm’ ever appearing on UK TV, so this might be the best way to watch it. Be careful of graveyards.

GF Willmetts

April 2017

(5 blu-ray disks: pub: Arrow Video. 88 minute film with lots of extras. Price: £69.99 (UK). ASIN: B01MZ9OZQ9)

cast: A. Michael Baldwin, Bill Thornbury, Reggie Bannister and Angus Scrimm

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