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Movie_rating.jpg (1221 bytes)3 outta 5
Video_rating.jpg (1233 bytes)4 outta 5
Audio_rating.jpg (1197 bytes)4 outta 5
Xtras_rating.jpg (1285 bytes)5 outta 5
Overall_rating.jpg (1475 bytes)4 outta 5

Phantasm
Directed by Don Coscarelli ; Starring Michael Baldwin, Bill Thornbury, Reggie Bannister, Angus Scrimm
MGM ; Region 1 ; NTSC ; Non-Anamorphic Widescreen ; Dolby Digital 5.1 / Mono ; Commentary, Deleted Scenes, Interview, Trailer, Behind-The-Scenes Footage, Stills Gallery and More

Phantasm (released in Australia as The Never Dead) is often thought of as a horror masterpiece by many genre fans, but I tend to feel that that status is largely due to the notorious 'silver ball' scene. Problem is that that scene is very...'more-ish', and hopes for a repeat performance aren't answered. While not heavy on the red stuff, what Phantasm does deliver is a very original and imaginative story, carried admirably by some very good performances. Coscarelli seems to have made significant effort towards creating characters with more than one dimension, making them much easier to identify with, and thus making their bizarre predicaments all the more intriguing. Of course, Scrimm's Tall Man character has become a horror icon, and he didn't need a burnt off face and a dozen wise one-liners to do so, although he did succumb to several sequels.....

For a low budget film made in the late seventies, the non-anamorphic transfer looks surprisingly sharp, suffering from very few print flaws and no noticeable compression problems. As it's mostly set at night, it was always very hard to see anything on video, but it's so much clearer here. There are still moments where it's difficult to make out details, but that seems to be the way the film was shot, so blame Coscarelli, not MGM for that. The sound is also very good. The DVD features a newly remastered Dolby 5.1 soundtrack which makes the most of the film's haunting main theme. For purists, the original mono soundtrack is available.

But the best thing about this disc is the supplementary features. This is one DVD that truly deserves the 'Special Edition' label. You get a pretty good commentary featuring Coscarelli, Baldwin, Thornbury & Scrimm (the cover wrongly replaces Scrimm with Bannister). Unfortunately it sounds like they screwed up the recording of this a bit as most of Scrimm's comments were re-recorded and re-inserted, giving it a less than spontaneous feel. But I'm probably being too picky here. You also get about ten minutes of deleted scenes. There's also an alternate finale. There's an excellent interview with Coscarelli and Scrimm from some seventies TV show. This runs about 30 minutes (it was originally aired over two weeks in 15 minute parts) and is very fascinating. You get trailers and TV spots including a very embarrassing Australian TV Promo and an ad for Fangoria magazine starring Scrimm as the Tall Man. You get about 20 minues of silent behind the scenes footage, accompanied by commentary by Coscarelli and Bannister. You get about ten minutes of badly focused home video footage of Scrimm addressing a horror convention. Plus you get some audio extra features including a bitchin' disco version of the movie's main theme. You also get a bunch of stills galleries, including posters, lobby cards and props.

MGM have done a fantastic job turning a slightly better than average movie into an excellent DVD.