Here are the Phantasm Remastered Bluray specs courtesy of the preorder at Diabolik DVD–
Phantasm (Remastered) (Blu-Ray)
BLU-RAY BONUS FEATURES:
**New 5.1 Surround Sound
**Original Mono Track
**Audio Commentary with Director & Writer Don Coscarelli, Michael Baldwin (Mike), Angus Scrimm (The Tall Man), and Bill Thornbury (Joan)
**Graveyard Carz Episode
**Interviews from 1979 with Don Coscarelli and Angus Scrimm
An American diplomat adopts an orphaned child whose mother died at birth unbeknowst to his wife who has just given birth to their (supposedly) stillborn son. Their new child however is the Antichrist. Hilarity ensues. Just kidding.
This film is perfect in many ways. Direction, cast, cinematography, music, screenplay. If ever it feels like the movie could curdle into camp it then reins itself in. The scariest horror movies deal with the huge conflict between good and evil. Us mere mortals are in no position to scoff or deride such things. This is one of the many reasons why this movie is so bonechilling.
Whilst I could name all of the performances I love in this film I would just be reciting the entire cast list. My favourite performance? Damian himself. He says very little but his performance is flawless. And watch for his facial expression at the very end of the movie when hes looking directly at the audience.
The Antichrist is adopted into the world of politics. Makes you think doesn’t it?
4 out of 5
One of the few Dario Argento films I haven’t seen. Until now that is.
And what a treat! A rock drummer notices that hes being watched by a mysterious stranger. He confronts this person in an abandoned opera house and after disarming him of a knife accidentally stabs him. This is all witnessed a photographed by an onlooker who wears a very unsettling dolls mask.
Cue many twists, turns and red herrings.
Even by giallos standards this is an amazing film- gorgeous locations, imaginative cinematography, brilliant quirky characters and last but not least, Bud Spencer is in this film. Bud Fucking Spencer! Whats not to like?
Another thing I love about this is that one of the characters is gay, camp and proud of it. Not once is he depicted as subhuman, deviant or somehow inferior. That means a lot- especially to a gay film critic. If Argento could imbue gay characters with some kind of dignity in 1971, why couldn’t Martin Scorsese recently in Wolf of Wall Street? Dario- loving your work.
I watched this on Shameless Entertainment’s Bluray release. Highly recommended- it does the film a real justice.
This movie is just as infamous for the furore surrounding the film as it is for the actual content.
I grew up in the midst of the Videos Nasties storm in a teacup in which the Tory government led by Herr Thatcher thought that the commoners who watched certain horror movies would grab a chainsaw and start the Tring Chain Saw Massacre.
This movie was dubbed Video Nasty Number 1 by Christian busybody and all round philistine Mary Whitehouse (even though she admitted she hadn’t seen the film from start to finish) and referred to it as if Satan himself had made a low budget horror movie and released it on video. The film would be placed on the infamous DPP list and banned.
Was it as bad as this- a horror film to end all horror films? A film that can corrupt a nations viewers and instigate a countrywide bloodbath?
The answer is- of course not. But it is a brilliantly inventive horror which oozes intelligence, charisma and knowledge of film in general.
There are horrific sequences within the film to prove the points made by the country’s self appointed moral guardians. One such is the forest rape scene. This sequence feels like something from a really perverted Japanese horror movie. Its horrific, repellent and surreal all in equal measures. Apparently Raimi feels that this scene now sticks like a sore thumb and would never have shot it with hindsight.
But theres a lot more to this complex movie. Its reference points are far reaching and reach beyond just the horror genre.
The film starts out innocently enough- a trip to a cabin in the woods by a group of unremarkable teenagers. But then things start to go awry and with the forest rape and the game of ‘Guess The Card’ things go completely insane. In this respect the film is like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre- a well worn storyline is suddenly massively subverted. In fact the scene in which Scott sees all of the animal bones hanging from the cabins rafters on entering the property was a direct reference to this movie. Another point of reference is that like TCM the hero is left battered, bruised and bloodied at the end of the film.
There is also a torn Hills Have Eyes poster in the cellar- this was a reference to the torn Jaws poster in the Winnebago in Hills. The Evil Dead is also watched by Nancy Thompson in A Nightmare on Elm Street also.
Theres a real sense of disorientation in this film for the characters and the audience. Any sense of time or space in the ordinary world is jettisoned. The clocks stopping, running backwards or the sounds they make being exaggerated is one sign of this.
In fact, sound is exaggerated and altered within the film as a whole. The overhead scene in which the camera pans across the rafters of the cabin whilst Ash prowls around below is a great example of this. Where there should be silence and logic there is instead the nonsensical and bizarre.
Another aspect of the film’s sound is that it must be one of the loudest films I’ve ever seen. Just as the violence and horror is graphic, exaggerated and cartoon like then so is the sound. Screams and sound effects are turned up to 11. I once watched the film in a cinema after it had been released in THX. The volume for the screening had been cranked up to such a degree that audience members were covering their ears at some points. One such scene was where the possessed Shelly is stabbed in the back with the kandarian dagger- the level of the screeching is something to experience especially in a cinema.
However, whilst Mary Whitehouse would have Daily Mail readers believe that this film is evil incarnate, Raimi’s tongue was firmly in cheek when he made this. The violence is slapstick and colourful (its not just blood that is emitted but what looks like milk, paint and green bile) in nature, like a cross between a Tex Avery cartoon and an E.C. Comic. Your average filmgoer will realise this, your genre fan will lap it up with a spoon. The filmmakers are trying to gross out their audience but whilst they are also carried along with the film’s slapstick sensibility. A pipe rupturing and pouring out shitloads of blood into Ash’s face is the film’s equivalent to a custard pie in the mush. Maybe if Mary Whitehouse had watched the entire film she might have surmised this. But then again she seemed to hate other people’s pleasure so she would probably still have been outraged.
The film’s camerawork is also noteworthy. The first person use of the camera to convey the evil presence lurking in the woods is genius and brilliantly effective. The film is full of examples of camera trickery to take the audience on a disorienting ride that feels groundbreaking and never showy. This film’s strength lies in the inventiveness of the filmmakers. Take note Hollywood- innovation and ideas are always better then throwing a huge budget at a project to make a mediocre piece of shit.
The Evil Dead is now firmly ensconced on lists of critic’s lists of the best horror films ever made. And it deserves it. It continues to influence filmmakers today and is forever being referenced.
Now if only Sam Raimi would release Within The Woods karma would be complete for us Deadheads.
The film was eventually legalised in the UK. Mary Whitehouse died. Karmas a bitch.
5 out of 5
Halloween 2 (1981) – Day 15- 31 Days of Halloween
It takes a great big set of balls to make a sequel to a film that is recognised as a classic. One such film is Halloween. Is the sequel any good?
Well, yes it is actually. There are many things to love.
One such thing is that the film carries on straight after the events from the first film. Laurie is taken to hospital and Michael Myers follows her. This is audacious in the extreme. It also means that the feel and look of the original need to be similar to the iconic original. And whilst Carpenter isn’t directing this time (he co-wrote the film with partner Debra Hill and co-scored with Alan Howarth), new boy Rick Rosenthal does a pretty good job. It feels for the most part like the first film but that doesn’t mean that its as good. But if Halloween is A+ then Halloween 2 is B+.
The hospital provides the perfect setting for the terror to continue. Yes, there aren’t many people in the building but its a small local hospital. Stop nitpicking, horror geeks. The setting also means that Michael can use medical implements to kill with- ironic when these instruments are intended to save lives rather than shorten them. Hence, Michael’s weapon of choice is a scalpel. In other scenes he also uses syringes (inserted into eyeballs!) and a therapy pool is turned up to boiling and a nurse is dunked underwater until her face receives the face-peel from hell whilst drowning at the same time. This scene was severely cut in the UK video release. In its uncut glory it really is something to behold.
In fact, the murders in this film are a lot nastier and more graphic than in the original. When Halloween 2 was made the slasher genre it inspired was in full swing. This film had something to prove and so the murders are very nasty indeed. Its like the makers of Halloween 2 were trying to show that they were still head and shoulders above the rest of the pack. And they succeed whilst doing so with artistic aplomb.
There also seems to be a grittiness and cynicism underlying the film that is both endearing and entertaining to watch. Examples of this jaded mentality are peppered throughout the movie. A child is admitted with a razor blade embedded in his mouth which alludes to the ‘razor blade in the candy’ urban legend. A female reporter tells a colleague when reporting Myers’ bloodbath from the first film ‘You need the parents’ permission to get a statement. If you can’t get it then get a statement anyway!’ The nurse who deals with the child bleeding from his mouth shows no compassion at all and gets the child and his mother to wait whilst the child suffers. The security guard Mr Garrett is seen reading a comic book instead of doing his job properly. Hence he doesn’t see Myers on his CCTV monitors. The doctor who treats Laurie’s injuries from the first film was at the same party as her parents and is actually drunk on the job. These quirks make Halloween 2 much better than its competitors. Whilst this isn’t George A Romero level social commentary this film isn’t as vacuous as many slasher imitators and still has astute observations to make.
But there are a few (but not many) examples of the film pandering or conforming to slasher movie conventions. One such is the scene in which Mr Garrett goes to investigate a break in. There is the cliched cat scare and also a door being opened to have lots of boxes fall onto the rotund night watchman. Whilst this all happens as a build up to Michael finishing off this character these events would never have happened in the original film. In fact, wasn’t there a cat scare in Friday the 13th Part 2? Thats more the kind of thing to find in that franchise than the Halloween films.
Also, the nudity and sexual references are ramped up in this film. Hence there are more titties and the irritating character of Bud singing a really unfunny dirty version of Amazing Grace. I cheered when he was killed by Michael in such a non-descript way. His vile character deserved no more than this.
Within this film is the revelation that Michael is actually Laurie’s brother. Hence why Myers wants to kill her- hes killed one sister, hes come back for the other. This plot detail doesn’t feel forced and gives the film the truly chilling dream sequence that Laurie has- including seeing an evil looking Michael in his asylum.
Theres also appearances of other characters from the first film. Annie appears as a corpse (!) and Laurie’s crush Ben Tramer is killed by when running from a gun wielding Dr Loomis (more of that cynicism). Freud would have a field day with the Myers costume that Tramer is wearing. Was this the film being really clever by suggesting a kind of subconscious incestuous desire between Laurie and Michael or was it just being really stupid by having Ben coincidentally wear the exact same costume as Michael? The examination of the teeth of Ben Tramer’s charred body fully depicts the sequel’s mentality- where the original used the economy and anonymity of shadowplay and genius framing this film presents the horror in full sight with all of the lights on, warts and all. Nothing is hidden, on any level.
On the whole the film feels similar to the original and pulls off, for the most part, the impossible. Jamie Lee Curtis is as kickass as ever as Laurie (check out the big chase scene- its edge of the seat brilliant) and Donald Pleasance is also excellent (even though some of his dialogue lapses into camp. ‘I’ve been trick or treated to death!’ says a neighbour to which Loomis replies ‘You don’t know what death is!’ I stifled a laugh).
The score is a progression of the original score. Where the original was piano led with a smuttering of synth, this score is all synth with the original songs elaborated upon by Carpenter and Alan Howarth. Its a great soundtrack even though, like the film itself, it isn’t as great as the original. The score for this film was named one of the best soundtracks of all time by Empire Magazine.
This film is great fun. Its as good as a sequel to a masterpiece could be. Which is the highest praise possible. Judging by the other Halloween movies featuring Myers, this could have been a lot worse.
An intelligent, original horror film is as rare as hen’s teeth nowadays. Hollywood seems content on remaking, rehashing and plundering the past glories of the genre with predictably mediocre and overexplained results.
Let The Right One In is one of those rare gems however. Set in snow laden 80s Sweden this is the story of a bullied child who befriends a young vampire. And then the sparks (and blood) fly.
Brilliant written, acted and directed- this film is never less than stunning. Its not often that a film lives up to its hype (The Babadook is an example. Horror fans were so hungry for a great horror film that they called it a classic. Its very good but not a classic) but this does. Its power lies in properly developed characters, silences and the audiences intelligence not being underestimated.
I first learnt of this film when I saw the poster for a double bill it was playing as a part of outside my local cinema back in the day.
I then saw it as a kid when it was on television. It was the last thing I watched before going to bed and it scared the crap out of me.
Was it still scary when I watched it more than thirty years later? Well, no but its still a decent enough movie.
My favourite scene- the guy who tries to fend off the killer bees by using a sword. Of all things.
Camp 70’s B movie (or should that be bee movie) fun.
3 out of 5
Whats noticable about this film is the incest subplot involving the effeminate manchild character called Michael played by Peter Bark. I didn’t know about this when I first watched the film. Its now seered into my mind for better or worse. This film is for titmunchers of all persuasions.
3 out of 5
I remember watching this as a kid on VHS in the 80s and loving it.
Now as a gay horror fan whos all grown up watching the film feels different.
Firstly, its because the great gay icon Bette Davis is in it. Safe in this knowledge I know that this isn’t just any run of the mill performance in a horror film. Ms Davis makes every scene her own, reviting each line her own way and with her own meter. Its as if shes too big for the film. Every scene shes in is special.
Secondly, I now watch this knowing its a very rare gem- a Disney horror film. And whats really shockkng is that this is very scary indeed! And judging by the film’s alternate endings and the idea for the original opening scene (as yet, unavailable to watch) the film was intended to be even darker. I think Disney must have not wanted to completely sully their family friendly name with an out and out scarefest.
Atmospheric, haunting and intelligent. This is a must see. Just don’t underestimate its power. 4 out of 5