25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on May 26, 2014
It's like a brimming over bowlful hot-buttered popcorn fresh from the popper, a deeply gratifying entertainment with something to chuckle over, marvel at or cheer on every page. The fifty or sixty-odd interviewees obviously had a blast working on Coscarelli's films and their affectionate, often humorous reminiscences glow out from the paragraphs of Dustin McNeill's skillfu prose. I've read the book all through but can't resist picking it up and re -reading again and again.at random for fresh enjoyment.. If I do have one single objection,, it's that the 260 photos the book boasts of may include an excess of one tall, gaunt, scowling personage clad in black. . Of course, being an actor, he'd probably be the last to complain.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2014
Dustin McNeill's book "Phantasm: Exhumed" is a definitive work, and basically the only book with such an in-depth perspective on director Don Coscarelli's series of "Phantasm" films. McNeill provides the story behind the films' productions, and examines the effect the films have had on other horror genre franchises (it posits, fairly believably, that the successful "Nightmare on Elm Street" series was at least partially inspired by the Coscarelli films), and even furnishes biographical information on many key players. This is the "wide view" of the Phantasm world and the people who created it!
It is a tasty subject, as many fans feel that the "Phantasm" films are somewhat belittled when described as merely "horror films"--they are more nuanced, funnier, warmer, and decidedly deeper, than most of the material on the horror genre shelves. There is a lot to explore here, and this book dives into the material and takes the reader on a brisk yet very detailed tour of the series. If you enjoy juicy behind-the-scenes stories, the book delivers these in abundance. I myself was fascinated, particularly by the stories of the first film's production. The story of how the studio-backed (and much more expensive) "Phantasm II" came into being is also really, really interesting. But ALL the films are covered--there is even material on the yet-to-be-released "Phantasm 5", so this book is marvelously thorough.
This is a cinematic success story of a young filmmaker who created a runaway horror hit that is now hailed as a classic (and which has a slew of entertaining sequels). And it's the story of the many talented and dedicated people who lent their efforts to the series. The horror fans love their Halloweens and their Night of the Living Deads--there is nothing so inspiring as an underdog, low-budget project that hits the market and makes waves, with the wild energy of its pure inventiveness.
It is just as another reviewer says: The franchise, and the fans, deserve this book. A comprehensive work like this has been a long time coming! The fans have wanted it forever. Does it satisfy? YES. The Tall Man himself, actor Angus Scrimm--maybe the classiest horror villain in any modern series--brings quite a bit to the book with interviews and journal entries. Many other notable cast and crew members chime in with memorable tales. You'll feel just like you were there!
If I may digress into my personal understanding of "Phantasm": When I saw the first film back in the day, my impression was that it had been made on another planet; it exuded such an intense atmosphere of weirdness that its entire world, nightmare dreamscapes, beautifully manicured suburbia and all, seemed unendingly mysterious. Years after seeing the film, I discovered, a piece at a time, that the film was mostly made in my general neighborhood of Southern California, and this realization was a great shock. But the film's mystique continued for me, even after these revelations. Now, there's a book with all the great untold production stories gathered together, and I expect that most fans who read it will find that their appreciation of the first film, and its sequels, increases. Now, everyone can have a most intimate understanding of how clever and unusual this film series really is...from the inside out.
The book is exhaustively researched, and supplemented with as many photos as McNeill could get his hands on: It's quite obvious that everything he had went in. "Phantasm: Exhumed" drills right to the heart of the material. If you enjoy the "Phantasm" series at all, this is a book you have to read.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on April 27, 2014
Finally, after 35 years, a book that goes behind the scenes from start to finish on the making of this unique horror franchise. Phantasm has grown to cult status since it first hit the silver sphere, er, screen back in 1979. The book covers director Don Coscarelli's early career with films like Kenney & Co, leading up to the secluded retreat at Big Bear where he dreamed up the story of Morningside (Phantasm's early working title). There are plenty of never before seen behind the scene photos of the entire cast that spans all 5, yes I said 5 films. The book was delayed to include the latest information on the upcoming Phantasm V-RaVager. Angus Scrimm, who played the notorious villain The Tall Man, kept a dairy during Phantasm's filming, and excerpts are included that shed light on the daily production triumphs and setbacks as well as some insecurities the actor.faced. Most of the information is told by the people who were there at the time, so accuracy is spot on. A real treat is looking back at the different filming locations, from Mausoleums to "Hanging Trees" and set construction photos. One of phantasm's biggest stars was not played by any actor, and isn't even human. Yes, I'm talking about the sinister Silver Spheres. At first thought, they sound like very simple Christmas ornaments thrown around, but the story of their creation, and evolution is very entertaining and insightful. The book reveals Coscarelli's skillful directing style and his eventual dislike for "Big Corporate" studioe who hampered his vision of the series. One learns the micro-budget the cast and crew worked with on most of the films and how improvising and necessities lead to long delays, but a production that took it's time and got it right to eventually give the franchise it's likability it is come to be known for. The book also has biographies on all of the key actors in the series as well as some familiar faces of those "unlucky enough" to meet a grisly demise in the films. Very refreshing, well written and to the point, any fan, casual or die hard, will find this book "Phascinating" (sorry, I had to do it). A must read for horror fans. To quote the Tall Man, "Careful what you look for...you just might find it"
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on April 25, 2014
Author Dustin McNiell goes above and beyond the call of duty to the Phans of this venerable and loved films series with his book Phantasm Exhumed. If you ever wondered about the ideas and the creative forces behind the Phantasm films, McNeill has you covered; told in tales and interviews from many of the people that were involved from the start of the first film project. The detail to which McNeill goes in bringing the reader up to speed on the early beginnings of Don Coscarelli and friends careers is great as it covers Coscarelli's first two feature films, Jim the World's Greatest and Kenny & Co.. There are many great insights as to how these young film makers were able to build upon learning experiences in the early films that would carry over into the Phantasm films and beyond. Each chapter is a new adventure for each film, and goes into detail including set journals from the Tall Man himself, Angus Scrimm.
The stories about day to day activities and issues on each film help the reader to understand the arduous process that is undertaken in making a feature length film. This book is well written and insightful, and will fill in most of the holes of information that the fans of Phantasm might have. The book does include some great features that talk about the projects that never happened, and the forth coming 5th installment of the series; Phantasm V: Ravager.
No book about a film is complete without great photographs, and Phantasm Exhumed has a great quantity of these photographs. Most of the photos are courtesy of Phantasm crew persons Kristen Deem and Guy Thorpe, whose photographs capture not only the behind the scenes hijinks and what is described in the book as a closeness, as like a family of the film crew and actors. Kristen's photos also capture the spirit and feel of the film as well as some of the best Tall Man scowls you will ever see.
The Phantasm franchise is a beloved entity to many fans, and as such McNeill has shown that he has a great admiration for these films; this truely is THE definitive companion regarding the Phantasm films, it is a must have for everyone from the die hard stalwart "Phans" as we call ourselves, to the newly initiated that have just recently come to appreciate the films.
This book is long over due for the legions of fans that feel these films have never truely gotten the respect they deserve.
Phantasm Exhumed is a showcase for the creative, inventive and ingenius minds that brought about one of the best genre film series ever. Thank you Dustin for your exhaustive efforts in bringing about a written and pictorial history of these great films.
You have been a good ...... BOY!!!!!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 20, 2014
What more can you say about one of the Greatest Films of all Time...... This book was a good read, explaining all the different aspects to the film that one might not know by just watching the philm.
I did enjoy the cast and the behind the scenes interviews of the film. That there added a whole new layer to the film. Kristen Deem and Angus's addtions to the book made it the best. They made you feel as if you had known them forever and a part of the phan family that is described in the film. And love seeing all the personal pics of behind the scenes. Thank you so much for adding them. Makes you almost forget that the films are meant to be a horror film.
Thank you so much Dustin for the hard work on the book. Well worth the wait and worth another read in the future!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 16, 2014
I still remember the night I first saw Phantasm… I was mesmerised by the film.
Living in South Africa, I saw very little horror films until my late teenage years and truth be told, phantasm was one of the films that really inspired me to be more creative and even be more interpretive towards films and literature in general.
Back in those days, the dial up days, the names Angus Scrim, Don Coscarelli were merely pages on imdb.com. I only got to watch the first two phantasms and even the abundance of videostores didn’t have a single VHS in stock.
Fast forward years later, we finally had a descent online dvd retailed and the phantasm boxset was on special one day.
I nearly flunked my second year because I was rewatched the first… it was an immensely rewarding experience but why stop there? In the course of two days I watched phantasm instead of studying, and imagine my dismay when, three days later, I opened my translation theory paper seeing a question like, “Systematically explain the various translations with adequate examples and how they differ.”
The answer I wannet to give was, “You play a good game boy, and now you’re screwed.”
I actually passed the module.
Soon after watching Phantasm I bought an action figure, and soon after that I followed the news and anticipated the fourth sequel, yet I never knew anything about the films except for the extras on the dvd’s, and what I saw onscreen… I knew of superfans Guy Thorpe, Kristin Deem and Dustin McNeil, people who breathed and lived phantasm.
I was gobsmacked when I learned that they wrote a book about the life, times and rise and rise and rise of the philms.
The dilemma with these kinds of books is usually that its a one sided affair and it always paints a picture of the tyrants and those who suffered under them. Further criticism for this genre is that its sometimes an overload on information, being over dense in the beginning but getting flimsier and flimsier as it goes along… not having focus, nor objectivity.
Not the case with Phantasm exhumed.
Don Coscarelli is portrayed as a leader and visionary, commandeering his troops from the humble beginning as a newbie director and going for gold, thus creating the film that would inspire thousands of other horror films and imitations. Was it not for phantasm, Freddy would not have build his house and the likes of Peter Jackson would not have changed the face of cinema as we know it.
Dustin McNeil focus the evolution of Phantasm very systematically, taking the leaders with him on his journey through the space gate, crossing several decades in the course of 250 pages, his voice is unique, easy to understand and interesting.
Included in these pages are, photos, letters and much more by his cohorts making it more than a biography but an experience.
One thing it makes clear about Phantasm, is the fact that it was no easy feat to make, and that lesser artists would have given up early on. In my opinion, Don Coscarelli has achieved what most bohemians only dream of. Staying true to himself and the fans and sticking to his guns while sticking it to the man, not allowing the philms to go the hollywood remake route and losing its identity when the cash hose is turned on. He never conformed to the the horror trends of the day and kept the essence of the series in tact.
Letters and diary entries by Angus Scrim and Kristin Deem give fans the one thing books like this lack most of the time, an insiders perspective, yet it always remains positive, interesting and it never but never shows any people or companies (except the MPAA) in a bad light… last named is to be expected though.
All in all, reading this book was a touching experience.
The characters who aged so dramatically, in the course of the two days when I watched the films, are now old friends. I share the experiences of the stories in the book, the stunts performed, the setbacks and disappointment and of course the excitement when the new sequel was announced.
Kudos to the mighty Dustin McNeil and the uber talented Olga Deutchberger who conjured this brilliant piece, all the time spent paid off and they created something that will be immortal like the tall man.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 31, 2014
A great book, a must for any phantasm fan. Lovingly crafted with interactions with those who were part of the films. Chock full of interesting insights into an amazingly imaginative franchise. A franchise that continues to evolve through the ages. With the imminent release of raVager....
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 14, 2014
As a longtime Phantasm Phan since the first release in 1979 when I first saw Phantasm at the age of thirteen something about this film just got inside of me and has never left over the years.
Reading Dustin McNeill's Phantasm Exhumed just transported me back through the space gate once again.
What I took away from this paperback masterpiece is that passion lives on behind the scenes of the Phantasm Franchise. Dustin McNeill should be applauded on his never ending efforts to bring this to the Phans. Most mortals will never fully comprehend the endless work and dedication it took to assemble the group and information to make this book a reality. The entire cast and crew your contributions have been brought back to life from behind the Coscarelli Panavision camera. The extraordinary never before seen photos compliment McNeill's writing style and layout in a way that keeps the reader wanting more. The overall page design flows for easy reading and I must give praise for the remarkable creative concept that graces the stunning cover that is sure to stand the test of time.
A very special kudos to Angus Scrimm, Kristen Deem, Guy Thorpe & Mark Shostrom for documenting the entire experience which could never be told without your in-depth journals, on-set experiences and remarkable rare photography.
Angus Scrimm's contributions span over three decades, ever so enlightening with hand written detailed accounts of real time experiences on and off set that indulge the reader to a new level of interest with-in the series from the Tall Man's personal perspective. Without the master creator of The Phantasm Series, Mr. Don Coscarelli none of this would be remotely possible.
In closing the people that worked behind the scenes on and off screen in the Phantasm Films is what makes the real difference and this book is a tribute to all of them and the Phans of the franchise. From one Phan to another we have Dustin McNeill to thank tremendously for embarking on such a project that has become and will always be a piece of living and breathing Phantasm history. Your humble efforts are greatly appreciated. Job well done!
This book is "The first ever book of extremely well documented Phantasm History and a must read and own for any Phantasm Phan or follower of the series".
My advice to all Phantasm Phans is to secure your copy today this book will soon be a rare collectors item in the future.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 8, 2014
like everyone else who considers themselves a phan, i have been waiting a long time for this book. dustin mcneill really delivers the goods, producing an exhaustive, informative, and loving narrative about the creation of the phantasm franchise, and he really gets what we love about it: the camaraderie between the films' main performers--a. michael baldwin, reggie bannister, bill thornbury, and, of course, angus scrimm. it is refreshing to discover that these folks seem to have the same level of warmth and appreciation for each other as it appears on screen.
constructed with interviews with cast and crew, phantasm exhumed delves deeply into all the phantasm installments, recounting funny anecdotes, extreme ingenuity, and harrowing stunts. Frankly, it's amazing that no one was seriously injured or killed making these movies, especially considering coscarelli's penchant for blowing-up cars. but nary a bitter note can be detected, and even when things didn't go as planned, everyone seems to agree that the making of these movies was a friendly, family affair.
the book also delves into a. michael baldwin's absence in phantasm II, liz's departure after part 2, and tim's disappearance following part 3, all burning questions that i have had about the series (i knew why baldwin wasn't in part 2, but it's informative to hear about it from both baldwin and james legros). honestly, legros awareness that he was replacing baldwin, and the thoughtful respectfulness he approaches the task with, makes part 2 sit better with me. legros recounts how he had the idea to be sucking on a lollipop as a nod to baldwin in the first film. bravo to you, james. the book is also filled with angus scrimm's witty and erudite jornal entries; clearly, scrimm is a renaissance man. the only thing i would have liked were more direct interviews with don coscarelli, but his voice is clearly present throughout.
if you are a phantasm phan, this book is a must. if you enjoy reading about the making of movies, especially horror films, this book will interest you plenty as well, and hopefully turn you on to a franchise that, film for film, is the most consistent, sincere, warm, and creative modern horror franchise to date. reading it made me feel like i was sitting on the stoop jamming with reg and jody, drinking dos equis, and thinking about how my baby left me lonely, how my baby left me blue.
this book, like the franchise it lovingly covers, is very much hot as love.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on May 27, 2014
im a big lover of the phantasm series..so I got the book to read about the behind the movie magic.. I loved the book and recommend it to everyone...not just the phans.just full of info that you'd never hear bout makin movies.