Fantasm/Fantasm Comes Again (1976)

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Released 19-Mar-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Adult Main Menu Audio
Featurette-Making Of
Audio Commentary-Producer Antony I. Ginnane
Trailer
Gallery-Promo Stills
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1976
Running Time 185:24
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Richard Franklin
Studio
Distributor
IFM World Releasing
Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Dee Dee Levitt
Maria Aronoff
William Margold
Gretchen Gayle
Rene Bond
Al Williams
Con Covert
Maria Lutra
Uschi Digard
Maria Welton
John Holmes
Candy Samples
Gene Allan Poe
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.70:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Fantasm and Fantasm Comes Again are Australia's contribution to the softcore pore craze of the 1970s. Though they vaguely present themselves as spoofs, all the bits that aren't cheesy softcore porn really add up to nothing more than padding to make a theatrical runtime. The real difference between the two being that the padding in Fantasm is quite entertaining, whereas the padding in Fantasm Comes Again is painfully droll.

Fantasm

    Unashamedly admitted by its producer and its director as an attempt to cash in on the hysteria surrounding the new "R" rating to fund their future careers, a very profitable start indeed, Fantasm is a series of ten pornographic shorts dressed up as a firmly tongue in cheek mockumentary exploration of female fantasies. Many of the European adult films of the time dressed themselves up as "sex education". Fantasm ribs them mercilessly and serves up plenty of notable adult stars "doing their thing" in the process. As well as being a good way to make the padding entertaining, the format is a good excuse to have every kind of scene imaginable; from a simple nude girl in the salon, to straight sex, girl on girl, partner swapping orgies, a strap-on revenge fantasy, a satanic sex ritual, even a dubious rape fantasy. Funnyman John Bluthal introduces each short as Professor Jurgen Notafreud, rambling excitedly about the "deep meaning" behind each short amidst some intentionally z-grade production.

    The cast of notable adult stars certainly helped contribute to the film's international success. Most notably, John Holmes flops his trunk out of the pool and all over a hispanic lass who is gagging to have fruit and whipped cream squashed all over her. Flesh Gordon's rather busty Mary Gavin (AKA Candy Samples) shakes her things. Notorious Rene Bond, redhead Serena and boob-wiggling Roxanne Brewer.

    Director "Richard Bruce" (a pseudonym, and possibly the worst kept secret in Australian film history) described the filming of Fantasm as being like making 10 student films in 10 days. Though he was more referring to the pace of filming and the short nature of each segment, the anecdote applies equally well to the style of each short. It is unlikely that you will ever find another porno filmed with such dramatic composition. The dark and creepy alleys in Fantasm look just as sinister as those in Halloween (not as surprising once you realise "Richard Bruce" was a friend and classmate of John Carpenter). The beauty salon is filmed like something from a Jean-Luc Godard film, complete with artistic use of light and mirrors. The filming of John Holmes' fruit party looks like a vintage ad for fruit salad, not to forget the iconic look of his initial appearance (a perfectly framed shot of him climbing out of the pool in all his "glory"). In its own twisted way, Fantasm exercises enough talent behind the camera to fill a whole course at any film school.

    Fantasm is not nearly as fun as Russ Meyer's vixen films, but it is reasonably entertaining and delivers exactly what it promises.

Fantasm Comes Again

    Fantasm Comes Again, though it was only released a year after the original, was not nearly the success of the original. The initial shock of the "R" rating had subsided somewhat, there was much more competition for "R" dollars in theatres and, certainly most noticeably for anyone watching nowadays, the film itself lacked any of the charm of the original. In many ways it failed for the same reason that almost every sequel made in the 1970s and 1980s failed - Producers wanting to replicate the original note for note, with few (if any) of the key cast and crew in place. This replication runs right down to each of the shorts, each of which has the same theme and/or look as one of the shorts in the original film.

    The most immediately noticeable absence is John Bluthal's hilarious Professor Jurgen Notafreud. Instead of a dubiously informative quack, the shorts in Fantasm Comes Again are segued by a couple of journalists doing an agony aunt column. The hilarious satire of the Fantasm introductions is traded for a string of overlong puns, delivered with stiffer acting than the porn segments (no pun intended!).

    Director "Richard Bruce" is replaced by "Eric Ram" (another pseudonym for an "up and coming" director of the time), who fails to bring any of the visual flair that Bruce undeservedly lavished on the original.

    Honestly, most viewers would get more enjoyment watching the original again rather than the sequel at all.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in a 1.70:1 aspect ratio, which appears to be an open matte of the theatrical 1.66:1 aspect ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The video looks fair for its age. The image is a little soft and smokey, with a mild degree of film grain visible. The colours are a bit pale, but fairly consistent throughout. There is a reasonable level of shadow detail in the image, although the darker colours do look a little crushed.

    The video is free from compression artefacts. A mild level of small film artefacts are visible throughout the feature, but really just show the age of the material and are never particularly distracting.

    No subtitles are present for the feature.

    This is a dual layer disc with one feature on each layer and no layer break during either feature.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    A single English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224 Kbps) audio track is present for each film.

    The mono audio is limited by the basic nature of the original mix and sounds quite dated. Dialogue is clear, though the sync is pretty variable as the films look to have been heavily overdubbed.

    The films feature the expected cheesy funk backing tracks.

    There is no surround or subwoofer use (not that classic porn isn't crying out for a 5.1 remaster).

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Making Of Featurette (22:50)

    A great "making of" featurette that explores Australian culture of the time, specifically the explosion that followed the "R" rating, as well as the actual production of the film. Told through a series of interviews with producer Antony I. Ginnane and a the shadowy silhouette of "Richard Bruce" (whose appearance makes you think he is enjoying the "mystery" of his identity as much as he did poking fun at the genre with John Bluthal's edutainment). Well worth a look.

Audio Commentaries with Producer Antony I. Ginnane

    Producer Tony Ginnane provides a fairly informative, and reasonably entertaining (if dry), commentary on each of the films. Those familiar with Ozploitation DVD commentaries will probably have found Ginnane's commentaries tend to quite variable. These are certainly two of the more interesting commentaries he has done and provide a wealth of back information on Australian culture of the mid-1970s.

Trailers

    An incredibly cheesy theatrical trailer for each film is presented. Fun viewing.

Trailers

    A stack of amusing promo stills and adverts from the film's release, presented in a poxy little box in the centre of the screen. Some of the larger ads have been cut in half and presented across 2 or 3 slides, spoiling the effect completely. This lot are a bit of a disappointment.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Each of these films is available separately in Region 1 featuring the same extra content as the local release. Despite the sequel being no good, it is certainly still better value to have both on the one disc as is the case with the Region 4 edition.

Summary

    A fun sex mockumentary from the early days of rude movies on the big screen in Australia, coupled with its atrocious sequel. Neither film particularly bears repeat viewing, not all the way through...

    The video is a little soft, which is unsurprising given the age and low budget of the film. The audio is quite limited, but a decent representation of its original theatrical presentation. The extras are quite worthwhile.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Adam Gould (Totally Biolicious!)
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Review Equipment
DVDSony Playstation 3, using HDMI output
Display Samsung 116cm LA46M81BD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderPioneer VSX2016AVS. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX2016AVS
Speakers150W DTX front speakers, 100W centre and 4 surround/rear speakers, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub

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