You wait years for a movie about flying, brain-drilling silver balls to appear on the big screen — and then two come along virtually at once. EW can exclusively reveal that distributors Well Go USA Entertainment has acquired the North American rights to director Don Coscarell’s Phantasm horror franchise, including the recently-completed Phantasm: Ravager. The company has announced theatrical releases for both that movie, which is the fifth and supposedly final film in the series, and a new version of 1979’s franchise-inaugurating Phantasm, now retitled Phantasm: Remastered.
Phantasm: Remastered will screen in cinemas on Sept. 24 as part of the first Art House Theater Day. Phantasm: Ravager will be released in theaters and via digital HD on Oct. 7. Phantasm: Remastered and HD restorations of both 1994’s Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead and 1998’s Phantasm IV: Oblivion will also be released on cable and digital platforms that day (and with Shout! Factory’s recent remaster of 1988’s Phantasm 2, fans will have all the Phantasm films available in HD). Later in the year, the films will be released individually on Blu-ray and DVD as well as in a collector’s edition set.
“The Phantasm films are iconic, and Well Go is ecstatic to have them,” Dylan Marchetti, SVP of Well Go USA Entertainment, said in a statement. “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.”
The original Phantasm starred Michael Baldwin as the teenager Mike, Bill Thornbury as his older brother Jody, and Reggie Bannister as a family friend named Reggie. Together, the trio attempt to thwart the plan of the late Angus Scrimm’s mysterious undertaker The Tall Man to transform corpses into dwarf zombies, a scheme in which he is aided by his collection of deadly flying spheres. Made for around $300,000, Phantasm grossed nearly $12 million at the box office and established Coscarelli’s reputation as one of horror genre’s most inventive talents. In addition to the first three Phantasm sequels, the filmmaker’s subsequent directing credits include 2002’s much-loved, Bruce Campbell-starring Bubba Ho-Tep and 2012’s John Dies at the End.
Phantasm: Remastered is a 4K digital restoration of the 1979 film, which was supervised by Coscarelli and J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot company. Abrams is a huge fan of the series and named Gwendoline Christie’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens character Captain Phasma after the franchise.
“He saw the movie when he was a kid and it stuck with him,” Coscarelli told EW last year. “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.”
Phantasm: Ravager reunites Baldwin, Thornbury, Bannister and Scrimm, who died in January at the age of 89. The film is directed by David Hartman, written by Hartman and Coscarelli, and exec-produced by Brad Baruh.
“It’s a swan song to the series,” Coscarelli told EW. “There’s some new iterations of those brain-shucking spheres and a lot of good stuff that the fans will enjoy. It ties up a lot of the storylines and answers some questions that fans have had.”
You can exclusively see two images from Phantasm: Remastered, below.