phantasm blu-ray set

Physical media may be slowly succumbing to the digital age, but you can pry my Blu-ray library from my cold, lifeless corpse…a corpse that will have a frozen smile on its bloodless face because I died watching movies that didn’t need to buffer at key moments and actually allowed me to watch the ending credits before smash cutting to a recommendation. And speaking of corpses and physical media, a Blu-ray box set collecting all five Phantasm movies is on the way, just in case you happen to like good things.

The news was revealed over at Entertainment Weekly by Don Coscarelli, the mastermind of the series and the director of the first four movies. The set, which will include 1979’s Phantasm, 1988’s Phantasm II, 1994’s Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead, 1998’s Phantasm IV: Oblivion, and 2016’s Phantasm: Ravager, will hit shelves on March 28, 2017 and Coscarelli promises a bunch of new bonus features:

We are currently in production on new bonus content bringing together cast and crew to look back and celebrate the Phantasm franchise including commentaries and new featurettes. I’m so excited to have all five films included in one box set!

Blu-ray.com has a look at the box art for the set, which features the late Angus Scrimm as the Tall Man, the series’ menacing central villain who menaces the world (and the universe) with his army of brain-sucking silver spheres. Man, I love these deranged movies.

phantasm blu-ray set

This set arrives shortly after the solo Blu-ray release of the first movie, which was restored in 4K and had a limited festival and theatrical run in 2016. I interviewed Coscarelli about the restoration at SXSW last year, where he told me the story of how J.J. Abrams, a big Phantasm fan, dedicated Bad Robot’s resources to restoring the film as a passion project:

So anyway, we’d stay in touch and he was obviously busy working on some great movies and TV series. And then out of the blue, about a year and a half ago, I got an email from him about wanting to screen Phantasm over at his company, Bad Robot. He wanted me to come do a Q&A. I guess there were a lot of folks who worked there who had never seen the movie and J.J. wanted to share it with them. The problem was that I only had this 35mm print that was pretty scratched and not that great and the old standard def DVD, which looked really good at the time that we made it, but it was not HD. He couldn’t believe that! He said “We’ve got to fix that.”

He got me on the phone with his head of production, Ben Rosenblatt and they came up with a really clever idea. Whenever they had downtime working on their Star Wars and Star Treks and stuff like that, they’d bring me over. They had this really high-end Mystica finishing system and if we could just get a laser scan made of the original camera negative it could go into the workstation. So every month or two, I’d get a phone call: “C’mon! We’ve got time tonight!” The guys would be doing the color correction and the scratch removal.

And it worked out, because I saw the 4K version at Fantastic Fest some months later and was blown away by how great it looked:

And Phantasm has never looked better. Bad Robot’s 4K restoration has made this low-budget, homegrown horror movie look like it was shot yesterday. A handful of pennies rubbed together with a little bit of spit and string now looks like a million bucks. For longtime fans, the remastered version will be a dream come true. For newcomers, this is the only way to watch movie. Even more impressive than the fine-tuned look of the film is the soundtrack, which sounds nothing short of incredible when it’s blasting in your ears.

While I have mixed feelings on some of the sequels, this set is a must-buy for me. The first film is still a nightmarish gem and the follow-ups have more than enough personality to earn additional viewings in the years ahead. And best of all, I won’t have to worry about any of them suddenly vanishing from view because of rights issues! Now get off my lawn.

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