phantasm remastered review

How does Phantasm exist?

That’s an odd rhetorical question to ask of a movie that has such a strong cult following, that has inspired four sequels over 37 years, and has inducted a genuine horror icon into the genre canon in the form of Angus Scrimm‘s The Tall Man. But revisiting the film in 2016 courtesy of a new 4K restoration that has the film looking better than ever, demands that this question be asked. Because Don Coscarelli‘s horror masterpiece isn’t just creepy, funny and wildly entertaining – it’s weird. Deeply weird. Endearingly weird. Weird on the kind of wavelength that you really don’t see very often. And it’s a wavelength that many horror fans seem to be right in tune with.

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phantasm restoration

You wouldn’t expect a man who built his career on a horror franchise about a supernatural undertaker who plots to take over the world through a sinister plot that involves grave-robbing and weaponized metal spheres to be the nicest and most straightforward person in the world, but director Don Conscarelli fits the bill.

The director of Phantasm and its four sequels stopped by Austin for the 2016 SXSW Film Festival, where the new 4K restoration of the original 1979 horror classic is set to screen. It turns out that Mr. Coscarelli has fans in high places, namely J.J. Abrams and various employees of his Bad Robot production company, who have spent the past 18 months meticulously restoring this beloved cult classic. Now, after decades of being a cult gem appreciated by a small group of diehard fans, Phantasm is being re-introduced to the world with the help of one of the world’s biggest filmmakers.

In advance of tonight’s screening of the restored Phantasm, I sat down with Coscarelli to chat about how Bad Robot got involved, the legacy of the series, and how the landscape of indie horror filmmaking has changed.

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Phantasm (1)

J.J. Abrams is a big fan of Don Coscarelli‘s horror cult classic Phantasm. He’s such a big fan of it, in fact, that he even pays tribute to it in Star Wars: The Force Awakens — Phasma, the “Chrome Trooper” played by Gwendoline Christie, is named after the 1979 movie.

And his love for the film doesn’t stop there. We’ve now learned that Abrams’ company Bad Robot has secretly overseen a 4K restoration of Phantasm from the original camera negative. Noted Coscarelli: “Star Wars isn’t the only ’70s franchise he’s rejuvenating this year!” More on the Phantasm 4K restoration after the jump.  Read More »

Phantasm V trailer

Most surprising sequel reveal of the year so far goes to Phantasm V: Ravager, which was announced with a poster reveal on Monday. The last film in Don Coscarelli‘s very odd horror/sci-fi series was released direct to video in 1998, but talk of a fifth film has persisted in the many years since. There was never any indication that one was happening. Now we find that not only is Phantasm V going to be a reality, it already is! And now we have the first Phantasm V trailer, which you can see below. Read More »

‘John Dies at the End’ Anti-Piracy Trailer

Don Coscarelli‘s film John Dies at the End, which features humans and monsters drifting between dimensions thanks to a popular drug, has been earning fans at festivals for the past year, and it is finally available to be seen by everyone thanks to the miracle of VOD. Many films that are available digitally also end up being seen by a lot of people thanks to piracy, and the marketing folks working for John Dies at the End have put together a great little trailer that hopes to prevent that from happening this time.

Looks like some of the film’s fun, grisly moments ended up in this trailer, so be warned of that before going in, but with that disclaimer shared, have a look below. Read More »

 

John Dies at the End, which is director Don Coscarelli‘s take on the wacky, cult novel by David Wong, is incredibly entertaining for the sake of being entertaining. Featuring huge monsters, metaphysical conversations, pop culture-based humor, hilarious performances and big action scenes with flame throwers, explosions, and bullet time, you’d be hard pressed to be bored by the picture. Unfortunately, all of that promise and entertainment value feels wasted because the film has very little to say, and is capped with a slightly disappointing payoff.

John Dies at the End comes on demand December 27 and in theaters January 26, but recently screed at the AFI Fest presented by Audi. Read more below. Read More »

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Don Coscarelli‘s latest film, John Dies At The End, has spent the entirety of 2012 playing the festival circuit. It started at Sundance, played South by Southwest, headed up to Toronto and, after a quick stop at the AFI Fest this week, it will finally be unleashed on the public. So the story of a futuristic drug setting two friends (Chase Williamson, Rob Mayes) on an existential  monster-filled adventure to save the world already has plenty of fans. You might become one too after watching its latest trailer, which is filled with just enough humor, effects and money shots to get anyone excited.

Co-starring Paul Giamatti, Clancy Brown and Doug JonesJohn Dies at the End hits iTunes on December 27 and theaters January 25. Until then, check out the new trailer and poster below. Read More »

Don Coscarelli, the writer/director of the Phantasm films, The Beastmaster and the Bruce Campbell cult classic Bubba Ho-Tep, has been trying to get the latter film’s prequel, Bubba Nosferatu: Curse of the She-Vampires, off the ground for some time now, but Bruce Campbell’s departure from the project left the production in a sore spot. It was said that the film might shoot fall of last year, with Ron Perlman replacing Campbell as Elvis and Paul Giamatti co-starring as Colonel Tom Parker. Obviously that hasn’t happened yet, but curiously enough, Coscarelli and Giamatti are working together on another film—one which, much to my surprise, is currently in the midst of filming. Read More »

perlman_and_scrimm

Speaking to Fangoria Radio, Ron Perlman has given an update on the status of Bubba Nosferatu, the vampiretastic follow-on from Don Coscarelli‘s Elvis vs. the Mummy gem, Bubba Ho-Tep. Apparently he will have a window into which the shoot may be squeezed, coming right up he wraps the current season of Sons of Anarchy in September. Having spoken to Coscarelli and co-star Paul Giamatti, Perlman seemed confident that they could all work it out in time and get cameras rolling.

Fangoria also let slip the casting of Angus Scrimm as “a Boris Karloff-like horror star who Elvis meets up with in Las Vegas on the set of a vampire movie.” This would be Claude Killgore, who we meet during the flashbacks to the 70s that make up half of the film and, knowing Coscarelli, I already pictured Scrimm in the role when I was reading the screenplay. It’s not a huge role, but it is a fun one and he will get to face off against Perlman as Elvis as ‘Clay Burton’ in the film-within-the-film.

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