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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Phantasm Week Day 7: The Phantasm Collection (as a whole)


The Phantasm Collection, from Well Go USA, is one of the best box sets on the market, with an embarrassment of riches in both the A/V department as well as the special features department. If only other horror franchises were as lucky as the Phantasm series, we would all be better off.


Previous Days in the week of Phantasm:

Day 1: Phantasm (1979)

Day 2: Phantasm II (1988)

Day 3: Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead (1994)

Day 4: Phantasm: Oblivion (1998)

Day 5: Phantasm: Ravager (2016)

Day 6: Phantasm Collection Bonus Disc

So we have made it to the last day of Phantasm Week and I have to say that I had a blast. Having only seen the first film and parts of the fourth film (which I don't really remember which parts), I was excited to be able to sit down and do a marathon of all five films and do it with the ability to watch them with very little knowledge of where the series was going. I had fresh eyes on this series and that is a true rarity in this day and age. By now I should have seen more than the first film, and I almost did because Well Go USA had released the first and fifth films on blu-ray about five months before this complete collection hits shelves. There were many times where I would be in a Best Buy and be staring at the blu-rays of the first and fifth films, saying to myself "I should buy these and then get the middle films from the library or see if they are on a streaming service" I almost did that, but I knew that this collection was coming so I steered the course and waited it out.

The fact that Well Go USA was able to pull this off was a miracle in and of itself. Well Go USA is a company known for releasing Asian films like the Ip Man series and Train to Busan and smaller English language films like Terry Gilliam's The Zero Theorem and A Single Shot with Sam Rockwell. Sure, they have released horror films in the past, but nothing with the magnitude like The Phantasm Collection. 

Fans were scared that Well Go USA was not the right choice for the job. They wanted Scream Factory or Arrow Video to get the rights because those companies were known for putting the time and resources behind releasing many classic horror films on blu-ray. In fact, Arrow Video won the rights to the Phantasm series in the U.K. and the fans lost their shit. But for someone like me, who loves Asian cinema and has a number of Well Go USA's blu-rays in his collection, I held out hope that Well Go USA was going to do right by the series and fans.

Now, onto the collection itself:

Well Go USA did a bang up job on this set. The first thing that you will notice when you pick up this set is the striking artwork on the front of the box. This image, an artist's rendition of a scene from Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead, is beautiful and the right way to begin one's journey into this set. The lettering used for the title, the staring of The Tall Man at us, the foil paper used to give the set a shine is all perfect.





We then move onto the left side of the box. This is the spine that most, who don't display the box facing forward, are going to use to identify the set on shelves. Again, the letter, the silver sphere, and the foil paper are perfect and stand out just enough for a fan to spot it on their shelf.



We move to the back of the box and you will notice something that not many companies do anymore: all of the information regarding what is in the box set, the special features for each disc, and the tech info for those same discs, is actually printed onto the box itself and not onto a J-card or slip of paper that is glued to the back that most people just take off because the paper is going to get ruined anyways. I applaud Well Go USA for going this route because it means that I don't have to look up the info on the internet. I can look at the back of the box and decided what I am going to watch for the info given to me.


Moving on to the right side of the box (if you go from the front of the box). This is how so collector's display a set like this in their collection. I used to display my box sets like this because you don't have to take the entire set off of the shelf to get to the film that you want to watch. I have since gone to displaying my sets using the spine, but to each their own.

Everything is snug in the box and the spines are easily identifiable. You can tell which film is which and also where the poster and book are.

The only complaint that I have about this set is that the blu-ray cases are a millimeter or two wider than the box itself, meaning that they stick out just a tad. The book and poster are the right dimensions, but the blu-ray cases are not. It is a minor complaint and one that I can look past as this is Well Go USA's first time releasing a box set like this. Not everything is going to be perfect and if this is the biggest complaint that I have then I will take it.



We now move onto the book that is included in the set. Fans of Arrow Video and the Criterion Collection will know how these books run, but this one is tad bit different. The first thing you will notice is that there is no table of contents. I am not a big fan of this because I have to flip through the whole book to find what I am looking for. Not a big deal, but would have been nice to have.

The second thing is there is no information about any of the transfers or soundtracks used in this box set. Now, this is something that only Arrow Video and the Criterion Collection do so it isn't something that I was look for, so it really isn't a big deal.

The book is like a paperback book only a bit fancier. The page count is 120 and that is 120 actual pages, not including the front and back covers. Some companies boost up their page count by adding the front and back covers to the page count, as well as adding blank pages to the front and back of the book. I don't like this practice and was pleasantly surprised that Well Go USA did not go down that same route.


The font used for each page is a bit bigger than usual, but I found it very easy to read. There are six interviews (Don Coscarelli, Angus Scrimm, Reggie Bannister, Kat Lester, A. Michael Baldwin, and Bill Thornberry.) Each interview is well done, but becomes a bit repetitive with all of the same stories told that are also told in the special features on the discs in the set. I did find some new information sprinkled throughout, especially when it came to the interview with Angus Scrimm. Photos are also sprinkled throughout the book as well.

All in all this is a very well done book that compliments the set nicely.



The last thing to talk about is the poster that comes in the set. It is a nice sized poster that is double sided. One side is the artwork used for this very box set. The other side, the one picture below, is the poster used to advertise the remaster version of Phantasm. I love when companies include the film's poster, and don't charge extra for it, and I know that I will be hanging this up very soon.

Overall: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


This is one of the nicest box sets on the market right now. Well Go USA have done a hell of a job with this set, including going to Scream Factory and Universal and licensing out the Scream Factory disc to include here. By doing this Well Go USA was able to make the set complete, something that many fans worried about. The transfers for each film are outstanding, with love and care taken for each film to look it's best. The soundtracks are great too, but this film series was never known for its outstanding sound design, so the tracks fit the films just fine. Well Go USA when the extra step by hiring Red Shirt Pictures to create new special features for the third and fourth films in the series as those were the two films who hadn't gotten the special edition treatment. At first I was wondering why the first film didn't get a doc, but then I realized that the bonus disc made up for that.

This is a truly amazing set. After going through the whole set, I started to think about other films that Well Go USA could give this type of treatment. With so many companies trying to buy up all they can, there isn't much left for the company to grab up. Most of the films that horror fans want are tied up with companies who could give rat's ass about releasing them. Films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, He Knows You're Alone, The Hitcher, Fright Night Part II, and so many more may never see the light of day.

One film that has been rumored to have been bought up by Well Go USA is original Dawn of the Dead. If true, this could be Well Go USA's Christmas present to horror fans and cement their place in the horror blu-ray marketplace. If they do what they did with this set, Well Go USA will be the new place to go to get your horror fix.

The Phantasm Collection
is a must own for fans of the series and those who want to take the dive, but aren't sure. The series is worth the watch.



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