strong>Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm series, one of the greatest and most enduring horror franchises of them all, has terrified millions of fans around the world and given them an iconic villain to forever haunt their nightmares in the form of the glowering Tall Man, played to perfection by the late Angus Scrimm. The original film, made on a scrappy budget of $300,000 and released to outstanding international box office in 1979, celebrated its 35th anniversary in 2014 with the surprising news that a fifth installment in the series was on its way.
You can watch a teaser trailer for the long-awaited fourth sequel to the original, entitled Phantasm: Ravager, here below.
Ever since Ravager — which Coscarelli co-wrote, produced, and financed, but did not direct, leaving those duties to David Hartman, who helped create the visual effects for his films Bubba Ho-Tep and John Dies at the End — was first announced, devoted “Phans” from Beverly Hills to Bucharest have waited for further developments. The wait is almost over.
Ravager was recently acquired for theatrical, home video, and digital streaming release by Well Go USA Entertainment, an independent company regarded for releasing many recent Asian action films. Along with Ravager, Well Go has also purchased the rights to the original Phantasm as well as two of its sequels – 1994’s Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead and 1998’s Phantasm IV: Oblivion – with plans to release all four films on Blu-ray, DVD, and digital streaming platforms this Fall.
In addition, the original Phantasm has undergone an extensive high-definition restoration in 4K resolution which Coscarelli personally supervised with J.J. Abrams‘ production company Bad Robot. The restored original, which has been renamed Phantasm: Remastered, will be released to select theaters nationwide on September 24, 2016 as part of the first Art House Theater Day.
Two stills from the new print were revealed by EW, and they look bloody beautiful:
Dylan Marchetti, Well Go’s Senior Vice President of Acquisitions and Theatrical Releasing, spoke enthusiastically of the company’s forthcoming release of Phantasm and its beloved sequels in a statement:
“The Phantasm films are iconic, and Well Go is ecstatic to have them. We get to bring a classic to a whole new audience with Phantasm: Remastered, and with Phantasm: Ravager we get to bring the die-hard fans “” of which I am one “” the closure they’ve been waiting for. This is the kind of deal that every distributor dreams of doing, and when you get to do it with a true independent like Don, well, that’s just the extra cherry on the sundae.”
Abrams, a proud “Phan” who has referenced the original in his own film and television projects in the past, came up with the idea for restoring the original while working on Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Coscarelli discussed his relationship with Abrams and how the Phantasm restoration came to be in an interview last year with EW:
“He saw the movie when he was a kid and it stuck with him. I first met him about 15 years ago. He was doing Felicity, and he called me out of the blue, and told me he was a fan. Then, I introduced him to Angus Scrimm, and he put him into the Alias TV series in a recurring role. [The restoration] came about because he wanted to show Phantasm at Bad Robot. I told him, “˜Well, the prints are really bad.’ He generously offered to help create a restoration. Obviously that’s an offer we couldn’t refuse.”
Well Go will release Phantasm: Ravager to theaters and Digital HD on October 7, 2016, with Phantasm: Remastered and the HD-restored Lord of the Dead and Oblivion scheduled to be released to cable and digital platforms that day as well. Plans are afoot for the first sequel to the original, 1988’s Phantasm II, which was financed and released by Universal Pictures and is currently available on Blu-ray from Scream Factory, to be made accessible for digital viewing even though it’s not licensed by Well Go, which also intends to bring the restored original and its three sequels to individual Blu-ray and DVD releases and a collector’s edition box set later this year on a date yet to be determined.