A review of Shout! Factory’s special edition Blu-Ray of Phantasm II.
Angus Scrimm is one of the biggest delights in this beautifully produced Phantasm II Blu-Ray. He’s all over this disc — in the documentary, in the behind the scenes and in the commentary. The reason I’m so obsessed in telling you this is because it’s a gift for us that the man still walks the earth at 87 years old AND is as sharp as a knife. I’ve never met him, so this disc was a real eye opener into who he is as a person and I just think he is super awesome. I pray that when I get to that age, I have the enthusiasm and wit he has.
For this reason ALONE, it’s more than enough to rush out and get this Blu-Ray. However, as your persevering nerd reviewer, I watched all 50 gigs on this optical disc and have to report it is a fine release that any true horror fan needs to have in their collection.
Phantasm II, released in 1988, was another horror film I had the privilege of seeing when it came out in theaters. I was about 15, but as I explained in my They Live review, I had an older brother who was passionate about the genre and for a few years, we pretty much saw every R-rated horror movie there was. It was a great time that I cherish. Seeing this film again brought back a lot of good memories of going to the movies.
I won’t bore you with a review of the film. Just know that it’s an awesome movie because, well…Reggie Bannister with a DIY four barrel shotgun. Need I say more? Let’s just get into why you’ll want to own this Blu-Ray as soon as inhumanly possible.
The packaging does not advertise a remastered film transfer, so I don’t know if there was a DVD version like this before the Blu-Ray. I’ve only owned the film on VHS, so this is the best I have ever seen it. It’s a GORGEOUS transfer of the film. The movie is already beautifully shot, but this retains the grittiness of the film, while giving it a nice polish for high def.
Someone at Shout! Factory knows their shit when it comes to these films. They manage to put together material that us fans love. My guess, they love this film as much as we do.
First up is a fantastic documentary with interviews from Coscarelli, Scrimm, the super cool Reggie Bannister, Paula Irvine, Samantha Phillips and Kenneth Tigar – the actor who played the tormented Perigord priest, Father Meyers, who knows what The Tall Man is up to. Added to that mix is the film’s producer Roberto Quezada, director of photography, Daryn Okada, the production designer Philip Duffin, and make-up effects wizard Mark Shostrom. It’s a cavalcade of the talent behind this film.
The doc is full of insight about the production. (Brad Pitt read for the part of Mike? Reggie Banister had to essentially re-audition for his OWN role?) There is a lot of cool stuff about the Spheres and TONS about how they did the effects. Also, you get the feeling that everyone just had a blast making the movie, which only makes me love the film more.
There is a really snazzy extra with deleted scenes that were from Coscarelli’s own work print. They spliced them into the finished scenes to give you the context of what it would look like when it was the full version. I love seeing the scratchy work print edited next to the clean mastered film. It’s the true film geek in me.
It also has a bunch of behind the scenes stuff that was shot back in 1988 on groovy video. Much of it has a young Howard Berger and Greg Nicotero — who worked for Shostrom’s shop — making masks, pumping blood and general tom foolery. I’ve met Nicotero and the man looks only about five years old than he does in these videos. He must be drinking Lurker’s blood or something.
There is also a doc about Nicotero’s work on the film that was pretty interesting. It looked like it had been produced for something else a few years ago and they put it in the Blu-Ray. Stick around for the credits on that one, there is a great little spoof that the effects team on Phantasm II made about a classic scene from the original Phantasm.
On top of all that, there are a bunch of trailers — including one for Phantasm and Phantasm III — a still photos gallery AND a really crazy old timey B&W short film about Abraham Lincoln! The reason it’s on the disc is that it stars Angus Scrimm (then credited as Rory Guy) as honest Abe himself. Take THAT Daniel Plainview!
Look, no one wants to die, end up being embalmed with some sort of reanimation goo, then put into a black vat, shrunken down to half our size and shipped off to an alternate dimension to become slaves. Okay, that’s PRETTY obvious. So, in order to stop that from happening, you have to get this disc! It gives you all the answers of how to protect yourself from supernatural grave robbers. Above that, this release is a great example of how TO put together a collectors edition Blu-Ray and if I ever meet the producer of this disc, he can bet I will unleash my Golden Super Sphere…right into his heart.