Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Phantasm II review followup: Region 1 release

I've noticed that a lot of folks have been directed to the Blogorium in search of a proper review of Phantasm II. Odds are you were looking for a review of the newly arrived Region 1 disc (out today), and my review of the Region 2 disc was less than helpful.

Let it be known that the Cap'n took your concerns to heart and decided to check out Universal's release of Phantasm II, and I will be happy to let you know what $14.99 will get you in order to complete the collection.

The first thing you should know is that since Universal released this disc, and not Anchor Bay, you're not getting any extras with the movie. Notice that they dumped it the same day as repackaged editions of Wes Craven and John Carpenter Universal releases (including They Live, The Serpent and the Rainbow, Shocker, Village of the Damned, and The People Under the Stairs). For some reason, if the movie isn't The Thing or one of the Universal Classic Monster movies, it's not going to get much more than the trailer. Phantasm II is no exception.

Accordingly, nothing from the region 2 disc (the commentary, convention footage, or TV spots) are on this disc. However, if you're just looking for Phantasm II itself, you're in pretty good shape. Universal released an anamorphic widescreen transfer (1.85:1) of the movie, and while it's hard to do an apples to apples comparison between a region free player and an upconverted PS3 picture, I didn't notice too many radical differences.

There's some really heavy grain near the beginning, especially when the Tall Man's hearse pulls up to Michael's house, but things settle down and the movie looks pretty good, considering that there was likely no remastering done here. Phantasm II is still perfectly watchable, and I'm not going to complain about having a copy I can show at anybody's house.

Still, I'm not parting ways with my Region 2 disc any time soon. The commentary track with Don Coscarelli, Reggie Bannister, and Angus Scrimm is sorely missed on the Region 1 disc. On the other hand, for most people, this is as good as you're going to get Phantasm II stateside, and at least now you'll have all four films together. The price isn't unreasonable (after all, that's what I, III, and IV cost to buy) and I'm sure you can get it for around $10 online.

I hope that's helpful. As long as you know you're getting what Universal considers to be a "lesser" title, and to not expect much more than the movie, then Phantasm II is worth picking up. If you've never seen it, this is ideally the way for you to watch the film, and cheaper than importing a UK disc.


When I say Universal's "lesser" titles, I mean in comparison to the comparably packed An American Werewolf in London: Full Moon Edition dvd or Blu Ray. For obvious reasons I picked up the BD and while the image can frequently be "Ghostbusters" level grainy, it does look much better than the older dvd. I haven't dived into the 97 minute documentary about the movie, but I'll let you know when I have.

Universal kinda half-assed it with the Army of Darkness "Screwhead" Edition on Blu-Ray, including a U-Control picture-in-picture that consists of "Production Photos." The only thing that really separates it from the HD-DVD version is the inclusion of a new interview with KNB's Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger that's a variation on "The Men Who Made the Army" featurette from the old Anchor Bay disc. Still, it is in high definition and there is some new information. They were also kind enough to include the trailer and the "Alternate Ending" (but not the Director's Cut or any of the deleted scenes), so you're getting a mixed bag, dvd and BD-wise.

Now that Universal has the rights again, I'm sure there's another Army of Darkness disc looming in the wings, considering that Anchor Bay's Boomstick Edition and the Bootleg Cut are out of print. So unless you just want a nice looking copy of the theatrical cut of Army of Darkness (which is what most people prefer, I realize), you might want to wait and see what's coming in a year or so.

Finally, who would have thought that Child's Play would look so good on Blu Ray? And if that's not enough, even though the BD disc has all of the extras, MGM/Fox kindly included a dvd copy of the Chucky's 20th Birthday Edition so that you can watch that with a regular player. This bucks their trend of putting BD/dvd combos out where the Blu Ray disc has jack shit on it and the dvd has all of the extras (like Walking Tall, The Graduate, and Road House).

Oh, the new poll is up. I think you have until Thursday night.

No comments: