The Tall Man makes his debut on Blu-ray in this second installment of Don Coscarelli’s horror franchise, Phantasm II, in a full-blown special edition from the folks at Scream! Factory, essentially replacing Universal’s previous bare-bones DVD edition.
Studio: Scream Factory
Distributed By: Shout! Factory
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA, English 5.1 DTS-HDMA
Run Time: 1 Hr. 35 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-rayStandard Blu-ray Keepcase
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 03/26/2013
The original Phantasm was a sleeper hit when it premiered in theatres in 1979. After the surprise success of The Beastmaster (and the fact that horror-fan Tom Pollack was placed in charge of Universal Pictures), writer-director Don Coscarelli was offered a budget of $3 million to create a sequel to be released in the summer of 1988. Much like John Carpenter’s Halloween II, Phantasm II picks up within seconds of where the first film ended, reprising that film’s finale using stock footage plus some new inserts, before fast-forwarding six years with the series’ protagonist, Mike (played by James Le Gros in this installment), being released from a mental institution after convincing his psychiatrist that the events in the first film were from an overactive imagination. He is then reunited with his friend, Reggie (Reggie Bannister), who now believes that Mike is being pursued by The Tall Man (Angus Scrimm), a mortician hell-bent (quite literally) on both resurrecting the dead and turning them into creatures resembling Jawas as well as eliminating Mike. But a young girl, Liz (Paula Irvine), has been communicating with Mike telepathically, and The Tall Man is after her, too. Mike and Reggie hit the road in search of The Tall Man, hoping to reach him in time to save Liz, and along the way they meet Alchemy (Samantha Phillips), a hitchhiker Reggie picks up on the side of the road and falls for, but she is not exactly quite what she seems.
The Production Rating: 2.5/5
I have to admit, right off the bat, that I have never seen any of the Phantasm movies prior to this review, and Phantasm II serves as my introduction to the series. For the uninitiated, such as myself, the movie is essentially a funhouse thrill ride with a good share of scares and laughs along the way to its head-scratcher ending. Coscarelli sets the pacing fast enough to keep the audience from thinking too hard about what is going on, but in the end, you find yourself asking what was The Tall Man’s ultimate motive for turning the dead into Jawas, and why were Mike and Liz a threat? The performances by the cast are, for the most part, above average for a film of this type, and I can see what the director saw in Samantha Phillips for him to cast her in the role of Alchemy. Phantasm II also has an impressive production design by Philip Duffin, and interesting make-up effects by a team led by David Barton (that included Robert Kurtzman and Gregory Nicotero, the K and N of KNB EFX Group).
The 1080p transfer, compressed using the AVC codec, approximates the film’s intended 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio by opening up the frame ever so slightly to 1.78:1 to fill a typical 16:9 display. The harvested image is somewhat soft, particularly during wider shots, but close-ups are often rich in detail. Colors are mostly consistent and not overly saturated, contrast and black levels are decent, and only a few shots suffer from intrusive grain. The print used is mostly free of debris and scratches, but does suffer from some occasional weaving (particularly during the opening credits).
Video Rating: 3.5/5 3D Rating: NA
The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo track replicates and improves upon the film’s original matrixed Dolby Surround 2.0 track, whil the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 offers higher fidelity and greater dynamic range, as well as improved stereo separation to give the film a much wider sound stage. Dialogue is never overpowered and directs quite nicely to the center channel. Ambient and directional sound effects, as well as the film’s score, are pushed to the left, right, and surrounds, filling the room nicely.
Audio Rating: 3.5/5
Shout! Factory has included a reversible insert, allowing fans to use the newly created cover art, or the original theatrical poster design.
Special Features Rating: 4/5
Audio Commentary by Director Don Coscarelli and Actors Reggie Bannister and Angus Scrimm: The three men have a fun time reminiscing about making Phantasm II (as well as the other films in the franchise), discuss some of the unfortunate casting decisions made by the studio, and the fans reaction to the film.
The Ball Is Back: The Making of Phantasm II (HD, 46:38): Another fine documentary by Red Shirt Pictures, including interviews with Don Coscarelli, Angus Scrimm, Reggie Bannister, Paula Irvine, Samantha Phillips, Kenneth Tigar, and Roberto Quezada.
The Gory Days (HD, 22:01): Gregory Nicotero discusses the makeup effects used in the film.
Deleted Scenes (HD, 6:51): A selection of scenes taken from Coscarelli’s 35mm archival collection.
Workprint Scenes (SD, 18:58): Taken from a videotape workprint with timecode, this is a selection of alternate takes, scene extensions, and omitted gore.
Behind The Scenes: Makeup and Effects (SD, 9:12): home movies shot on video highlighting the makeup and effects work.
Behind The Scenes: On The Set (SD, 9:08): more home movies shot during production.
Still Galleries: A selection of behind the scenes photos, makeup effects, and posters are provided.
Phantasm Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:17): The film’s trailer is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen.
Phantasm II Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:27): The film’s trailer is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen.
Phantasm III Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:27): The film’s trailer is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen.
Phantasm II TV Spots (SD, 1:25)
Rare Short Film Featuring Rory Guy (SD, 18:40): If you grew up in the 1970s and 1980s, it is very likely you saw this Encyclopedia Britannica educational short on the life of Abraham Lincoln (played by Rory Guy, aka Angus Scrimm).
Shout! Factory pulls out most of the stops and provides a special edition that Phantasm fans have been asking for, with some interesting bonus features and an above average transfer.
Overall Rating: 3/5
Reviewed By: Todd Erwin
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