Starring Angus Scrimm, Reggie Bannister, A. Michael Baldwin, Bill Thornbury
Directed By Don Coscarelli
(Well Go USA)
I'll be the first to admit that when I was introduced to the Phantasm franchise via a poorly dubbed copy of Phantasm II (1988), I quickly found myself obsessed with the venerable Angus Scrimm and Reggie Bannister-fueled Horror franchise. Armed with a carefully balanced (and in some regards, never equaled) blend of Horror and Sci-Fi, the Don Coscarelli (Bubba Ho-Tep, John Dies At The End, Survival Quest) series appeared destined for greatness. Fortunately for all parties involved, this was indeed the case as the series continued to flourish over the course of an entire generation as it spawned multiple sequels and an array of would-be imitators. Now, nearly thirty (!) years after my delightfully terrifying inaugural Tall Man experience, I once again find myself only more than happy to overindulge with the highly-anticipated (and, for that matter, long-overdue) release of The Phantasm Collection, a five disc Blu-Ray box set that encompasses the aggregates of the beloved franchise.
On the oft-brilliant The Phantasm Collection (2017, MSRP $104.75), an expertly assembled deluxe five disc Blu-Ray, franchise-spanning collection of the entire Phantasm series, the viewer is thrust immediately headlong into the realm of the Tall Man via the iconic original film and the previously mentioned Phantasm II. Wasting little--if any--time delivering a now legendarily unconventional story line that engulfs even the most jaded and unimaginative of viewers, former 'Ice Cream Man' Reggie and his juvenile charge Mike quickly find themselves in the fight of their lives. Punctuating each ingenious scare with a bevy of deftly-executed gore (primarily as a byproduct of the spheres), their onscreen chemistry remains entirely tangible. Proving themselves fully capable of capturing the tone and overall vibe of the John Carpenter indie blockbuster Halloween (1978), both the original film and its initial sequel join the ranks of the historic Horror elite without pandering to the mainstream.
Continuing with the inexplicably direct-to-video Phantasm III: Lord Of The Dead (1994) and Phantasm IV: Oblivion (1998), the misadventures of Reggie and Mike resume largely unabated as they battle and pursue the dreaded Tall Man. Wreaking havoc by robbing graves throughout a never-ending series of soon-to-be-deserted small towns, the ex-Morningside Mortuary employee brazenly 'recruits' new members of his undead alliance, always aided by the ever-present deadly spheres. Maintaining the dream-eque, flashback-fueled ambiance of it's predecessors, Mike bravely journeys through multiple dimensions as he attempts to uncover the truth behind Jody's mysterious death and sinister origins of their nemesis. Effortlessly driving home each key focal point despite the looming presence of a diminished budget, the protagonist focal point of the films wisely shifts to Bannister even as difficulty with plot consistency between the individual sequels rear their proverbial ugly head.
Closing with the curiously long-gestating Phantasm: Ravager (2016), the culminations of Coscarelli's labor of love serve as a much-welcomed reminder of the impact the franchise has had on the Horror genre as a whole. Fortified throughout by new, painstakingly restored DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 and DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono mixes and a veritable wealth of refreshingly insightful bonus materials (most notably the highly sought-after The Ball Is Back and The Gory Days featurettes courtesy of like-minded revivalists Scream/Shout! Factory and the one hundred and twenty page Phantasm Compendium booklet), what ultimately separates the mighty The Phantasm Collection from it's contemporaries is an unparalleled attention to detail. Effectively serving as the definitive Phantasm experience, even if you still somehow find yourself less than enthralled with the overall presentation, one must, at the very least, sincerely admire the moxie necessary for such a grandiose undertaking.
But has it really been worth the wait? Absolutely! A true must-have for any Phantasm enthusiast (or, for that matter, anyone with a genuine and sincere interest in all things classic Horror and classic Horror-related), The Phantasm Collection is seemingly guaranteed to leave both die-hard completists and clueless newcomers alike only wanting for more. Easily one of the most highly-anticipated 'anthological' releases of the past decade, the hard-earned legacies of the franchise remains aglow nearly forty years after it's initial inception by transcending an entire generation of moviegoers. Love it or loathe it, this is quite possibly as good as classic--yet arguably 'B'--Horror gets. Needless to say, if you've once again found yourself in search of a true blood-soaked Horror experience (i.e. the proverbial trip down memory lane) that simply won't leave you disappointed, then this, my friends, might just be the high-octane cure-all for what it is that ails you. Trust me, you will not be disappointed.
The Phantasm Collection (2017)
Phantasm: Ravager (2016)
Phantasm IV: Oblivion (1998)
Phantasm III: Lord Of The Dead (1994)
Phantasm II (1988)
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