Aside from doing Star Wars–related things and freaking out (or both), J.J. Abrams and his Bad Robot production company are also restoring 1979’s cult horror flick Phantasm. Ain’t It Cool News first reported on the special project, which involves giving Don Coscarelli’s original film a full 5.1-channel audio mix, as well as 4K treatment. “It’s really exciting, obviously,” Coscarelli told EW in a follow-up interview Monday. “I have to say, ‘Hat’s off to J.J.’ Star Wars isn’t the only ’70s franchise he’s rejuvenating this year” — referencing the fact Phantasm never received a high-def release.
Although it might seem random, Abrams and BR’s revitalizing efforts shouldn’t be too surprising: The Force Awakens helmer is a fan — a phan, even. (He admitted earlier this year that Captain Phasma’s name was a nod to Phantasm. “Phasma I named because of the amazing chrome design that came from Michael Kaplan’s wardrobe team,” he had said. “It reminded me of the ball in Phantasm, and I just thought, Phasma sounds really cool.”) Coscarelli, who’s currently producing a fifth Phantasm film, Ravager, elaborated further for EW:
[Abrams] saw the movie when he was a kid and it stuck with him. 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.
Full restoration should wrap next month, according to Coscarelli, who noted that the original is now like watching the movie with sunglasses on and that the “Tall Man’s balls are a lot more shiny” in the updated version. (He added that fans can expect a first- or second-quarter release.) To learn more about Phantasm’s revival, scope out EW’s full interview with Coscarelli, here.