Book Review “Phantasm Exhumed: The Unauthorized Companion”

phantasmAuthor: Dustin McNeill
Paperback: 268 pages
Publisher: Harker Press
Release Date: April 21, 2014

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Grab your balls horror fans because “Phantasm” is finally getting an amazing behind-the-scenes book coming the franchise. I think “Phantasm” is a horror franchise that never really got the love that it deserved. When the first film came out it was a sleeper hit. The second film had a big budget and wasn’t really given a huge reception with its theatrical release. This led to the third and fourth films to be released direct-to-video at the time. Not that they weren’t successful but in general but I have always felt the series never got expanded beyond its core fan base. Again don’t get me wrong it has quite a large core fan base for sure. When I think about “Phantasm”, I go back in time to walking down the horror aisle at the local mom and pop video store looking at each box trying to find something to rent. I remember the first time that I rent “Phantasm” and instantly falling in love. If you have that same experience then I cannot recommend “Phantasm Exhumed” anymore. It is the best (and only) Unauthorized Companion to this series.

I have no idea why it has taken this long to get a book about the making of “Phantasm” series made but author Dustin McNeill has done it. And done it well that is. I literally received this book in the mail and honestly didn’t but it down till I was done with the last page. The book kicks off with an amazing  introduction by the Tall Man himself, Angus Scrimm. There are more than sixty new interviews with cast, crew, effects creators and studio executives. Dustin takes us deep into the behind the scenes of this franchise and history of Phantasm that starts with “Jim the World’s Greatest” to “Kenny & Company” and right through “Phantasm: Ravager”. No that is not a typo BTW, Dustin actually includes the new fifth film that was secretly filmed over the last two years. Some of the long lost production stories are amazing to read in this book and have never before told by the filmmakers.

There are more than 250 rare photographs, many never-before-seen. There is information on deleted scenes and script changes. There is some rally in-depth research and insight into the series’ effects, props & set construction. There are also rare letters, memos, production artifacts and even excerpts from Angus Scrimm’s personal 1977 set journals. This is worth the purchase alone of the book since it has never been released before. What I also love about this book is that besides the films that we know and love. There is also a section focusing on sequels that never came to be like “Phantasm 1999”, the 2005 remake and “Phantasm Forever”. It is cool to be able to get the inside scoop on these as well since there isn’t too much available on those. I would love to someone get Don Coscarelli to somehow release that recorded table reading with the added special effects, this would make many fans very happy.

If you are wondering, how Dustin McNeill has was able to gather all this information about this franchise, he has been a long time fan and he also launched the popular website “Phantasm Archives”. He worked with actor Michael Baldwin personally to return to the convention scene for several cast reunions. He authored an article for the 30th anniversary “Phantasm” retrospective in the best horror magazine of all-time, Horrorhound and much more. This book is literally a half a decade of research but the work pays off in every amazing page of this book. This is Dustin’s first book and I can’t wait to see what he covers next. If you are a fan of “Phantasm” and are looking for an amazing glimpse into the mind of this franchise, pick up “Phantasm Exhumed” and be sure to recommend to your friends as well!

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