May 16, 2013

Blu-ray Essentials: Phantasm II (1988)

When it comes to buying horror movies on Blu-ray, we have one issue; we already own so many horror movies on DVD, that upgrading them all to Blu-ray would cost a small fortune. There are some titles that we have to own in the best format available however, and so we open to you our Blu-ray Archives, which consist of what we consider to be Must Own Horror & Genre Blu-ray's.

Phantasm II (1988)
Scream Factory (Shout! Factory)
Price: $19.99-$24.99
Discs: 1 50 GB Blu-ray Disc
Video: 1080p
1.85:1 AR
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1/2.0
Subtitles: English
Region A (Locked)

Don Coscarelli created an iconic Horror masterpiece with Phantasm in 1979, which was different from everything else coming out of the genre at the time; it had flying chrome sphere's of death, creepy little murderous Jawa-looking things running around and causing mayhem, and it gave us Angus Scrimm as The Tall Man. It's a classic genre flick in every sense of the definition.

Like a boss.
As a sequel, Phantasm II delivers the goods almost as well as did its predecessor. It may be odd to see James LeGros step into the role of Mike, but aside from that, the movie plays out just about as well as the first one does. Having a $3 million budget to play with on his 2nd go around, Coscarelli was able to give us some pretty great set pieces and FX gags to enjoy, and the movie felt a bit more expensive than the $300,000 budgeted Phantasm did.

I could totally picture Brad Pitt in this role...
The otherworldly feel of these movies are their main draw. The Tall Man and his army of dwarf slaves stealing corpses and packing them into barrels to take back to their home world, which is through a dimensional doorway that lies between two large tuning forks, tickles the imagination in just the right way. As good as the story and all of its elements are though, it's Angus Scrimm that truly gives this series its lifeblood. The Tall Man is a classic Horror icon, and watching Scrimm bring him to life is pure joy for Horror fans.

I have a recurring dream identical to this scene, but my version involved marshmallows and thumb tacks.
This is also the first time that the film has had a proper Region 1 release. It took this little film from 1988 21 years to reach DVD, and when it did, it in the form of a shoddy bare-bones release. Scream Factory has more than made up for that though with this excellent Blu-ray offering.

Let us not forget the balls, too. They're pretty iconic in their own right.
This Blu-ray transfer of Phantasm II looks great, despite the fact that early in the movie you can see some glaring imperfections. The movie is old, and it's obvious from some of the early scenes in this transfer that they couldn't repair the some of the wobble issues. Aside from that, and a few other instances where the movie shows its age, this is a solid transfer that should please most HD connoisseurs. This is the best the movie has ever looked, and most likely ever will.

"Mmmph, mrrrm, whargarrbl!"
This disc sounds pretty solid here, with the 5.1 mix hitting all the right notes and doing great justice to a movie that was never particularly sonically dynamic to begin with.

Just get off of her back, man! (Sorry, that's all I could come up with.)
Aside from the movie itself, Phans will be thrilled with the extras included in this Collector's Edition package. Did you know that Brad Pitt read for the part of Mike? Have you ever wanted to see the Unrated Workprint scenes that we're only available on bootleg versions of Phantasm II? Do you like movie trailers and commentary tracks? Then you'll be more than happy with the supplemental material on this disc.
  • Reversible Insert cover art
  • Audio Commentary by Director Don Coscarelli and Actors Reggie Bannister and Angus Scrimm
  • The Ball Is Back: The Making of Phantasm II (HD, 46:38)
  • The Gory Days (HD, 22:01)
  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 6:51)
  • Workprint Scenes (SD, 18:58)
  • Behind The Scenes: Makeup and Effects (SD, 9:12)
  • Behind The Scenes: On The Set (SD, 9:08)
  • HD Stills Galleries
  • 3 Theatrical Trailers
  • 3TV Spots
  • Rare Short Film Featuring Rory Guy (SD, 18:40) 

    "Kiss her on the mouth, boy!"
    Phantasm II is a solid sequel to a Horror classic that makes it its own sort of classic. Considering the source material, this disc is just about as perfect as can be, even if it's got some instances of visual imperfection here and there. We've always loved this flick, and with this new Scream Factory Collector's Edition, we can love it in the high quality that we feel it deserves.

    This one is definitely a must own title.

    The Movie
    The Blu-ray
    Samantha Phillips went on to have a pretty successful career in soft core porn following Phantasm II, while Paula Irvine apparently went on to behave herself. Good for both of 'em.


    1. Thanks for covering this. You make me want to see it again. I'm so torn on the series in general, though. The scenes that show a town or vehicles make it age poorly but the Tall Man was cool, the effects were great and it had some totally off-the-wall ideas.

    2. I can say that the Blu-ray takes away lots of the "age" issues, but the other three movies on plain old DVD do show their wear and tear a lot more.

      Like you said though, cool stuff.