PHANTASM Sphere Box Set

With Reggie Bannister, Angus Scrimm, Michael Baldwin, Bill Thornbury, James LeGros, Kevin Connors, Gloria Lynn Henry, Heidi Marnhout
Directed by Don Coscarelli

First off, even if you’re not a great fan of this classic horror saga, the brilliant packaging is irresistible. The four chapters in the series (and a bonus disc of extras) are housed in a replica of the lethal levitating spheres from the films (which chases you down, pokes into your skull, and drills a hole, sucking out your skull and squirting the liquid brains out the back of it!).

The original Phantasm was released in 1979, and never before had cinemagoers seen anything like it. A young kid discovers a morbid practice at the local mortuary – a tall, ominous man takes corpses and shrinks them down, then sends them off to his planet to work as slaves. Regardless of its low budget, the innovative story, brilliant soundtrack, amazing mood and great scares make this a classic.

A decade later
Phantasm II saw the financial backers nudging Michael Baldwin (who played Mike) out of the way in favour of James LeGros. Reggie and Mike are on the Tall Man’s trail as he loots cemeteries across America, also wiping out the living, leaving ghost towns in his wake. With so much time having passed, and so many ‘80s clichés created since then, in many ways this second chapter feels like a caricature of itself and looks like an imitation of movies that actually ripped off the original. A gung-ho female character is thrown in to detrimental effect.

Phantasm III: Lord Of The Dead brings back Baldwin as Mike, and all the better for it. Another six years have passed since the 2nd chapter (of 1988), bringing the Phantasm series into the mid-‘90s. And with time comes improved special effects. Bill Thornbury (who played Mike’s older brother) died in the first film. He returns for the rest of the installments, but the Tall Man is becoming more devious. Here a kid gets thrown in for dynamics, but again, not very convincingly. Still, as long as you have Reggie, the V8 GTO, and the Tall Man, you can’t miss.

Phantasm IV: Oblivion seems to put the lid on the Tall Man and his deadly endeavours as we’re taken back in time to witness this classic horror character’s origin. Made for just over half a million dollars, Coscarelli proves that great ideas and good visuals are more important than flooding a project with money and hoping something pops out.

What makes this even more of a phenomenon is the fact that director Coscarelli didn’t let his creation slip through his fingers and into the homogenized boardrooms of a clueless studio. His hands-on involvement throughout makes it that much more credible as no-one knows these characters better than him.

The extra disc Where The Dead Are No Longer That Way includes an array of documentaries, interviews and behind the scenes looks to get your fill.

6 / A
- PB

1 2 3 4 5 6
A - B
- C

never let a review decide for you, but for those who need a rating, see the Flamedrop scale below
6 - Volcanic
5 - Blistering
4 - Hot
3 - Smolder
2 - Room Temperature
1 - Fizzled
0 - Extinguished

A: Multi-Viewing Potential

B: Could Enjoy A 2nd Look

C: Once Should Suffice

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