Tuesday, February 1

Phantasm (1979) - 1984 Embassy Home Entertainment VHS

Watching this tape for the first time last night after only seeing the MGM and Anchor Bay discs makes me question how Phantasm is actually supposed to look. The source is a beat-up print with defects galore, and even though you can't judge what the negative looks like (or should look like) from a print, it's hard not to ponder why there's such substantive differences. This VHS is much brighter than the DVDs with vastly more vibrancy to colors. It's an immediate change from the digital incarnation's rather dim, eroded color scheme.

Individual sequences also look different, like when Mike and the girls drive upon Reggie's wrecked ice cream truck and the subsequent dwarf attack. On this tape, the scenes have a strong reddish tint while the discs have a "normalized" cobalt gray hue. The thing is that on the tape the intercut shots of Jody resting at home aren't tinted red, so it appears the warm tint was intended. Sometimes the VHS looks too bright, but the entire film looks markedly different and I dare say better in many instances. Of course, the DVDs have an definite edge in detail, despite not being excellent transfers (both the MGM and AB look nearly identical save for 16x9 enhancement on the latter).

Embassy's tape isn't that rare, find the earlier Magnetic Video release for a gem, although check it out if you run across it cheap. The presentation is uncut and unmatted with more top and bottom picture information than the (also uncut) DVDs. As for Phantasm itself, c'mon, it's one of the most creative horror films to emerge from the '70s and I personally grow fonder to Coscarelli's wild imagination with each viewing. An absolutely essential piece for every horror fan's library. Gotta wonder which "appearance" is more accurate to his intentions though...


-Lou said...

Funny you should note this- I picked up the DVD a while back and thought it looked a little washed out compared to the way I remembered the film.

Jayson Kennedy said...

I was genuinely surprised by the difference. It actually looks more from its era on this tape, like Dawn of the Dead.

...do you dare tread upon the staircase?

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