• Fantasm (Synapse Films) DVD Review

    Released by: Synapse Films
    Released on: February 16thth, 2004.
    Director: Richard Franklin
    Cast: John Holmes, Uschi Digard, Candy Samples, Rene Bond, Serena, William Margold
    Year: 1976
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    Fantasm - Movie Review:

    Fantasm (not to be confused with Don Coscarelli's Phantasm, a different film completely, though it also features a lot of balls...) (and it's follow up film, Fantasm Comes Again) is a essentially well-known Australian softcore sex comedy that, because of its casting of some very recognizable XXX and sexploitation stars and starlets, has gone on to develop a staunch and steady cult following over the years.

    Directed under the pseudonym of Richard Bruce by known Hollywood-by-way-of-Australia director Richard Franklin (he of Psycho 2 fame), Fantasm (also known as World Of Sexual Fantasy) is essentially a series of little sexual vignettes that are supposed to represent the 'top erotic female fantasies.' Seeing as the film was more than likely geared towards a primarily male audience it would seem more apt that there are actually the 'top erotic fantasies that males have about females' but that's really nit picking.

    Professor Jurgen Notafreud (get it? He's played by John Bluthal) presents these tales of rivalry in an anthology format that not only provides some steamy onscreen action but does a pretty decent, and quite humorous job of lampooning the sex education films of the era as well as some of the 'porn in the guise of educational films' that had come over from Europe in the years before its release to theaters around the world.

    Ten stories comprise the film, and the run the gamut from pussy shaving to lesbianism to strap-ons and to interracial love. Synapse Films’ presentation of Fantasm is completely uncut.

    With a cast made up of such adult film industry luminaries as John Holmes (of Insatiable and the Johnny Wadd films), Russ Meyer girl Uschi Digart (of Roxanna), Bill Margold (of Disco Dolls In Hot Skin), Rene Bond (The Playmates) and Candy Samples (of Up! and Big Bust Superstars) you can see how people would be interested in checking it out.

    Through stories such as The Beauty Parlor (where Dee Dee Levitt gets shaved), Nightmare Alley (where Rene Bond is raped in a scene that is actually rather disturbing and not that funny at all), and Fruit Salad (in which John Holmes does his thing in a swimming pool with Maria Welton and a banana) the movie provides ample opportunity for sexcapades and guffahs all around.

    Fantasm - DVD Review:

    The credits for Fantasm appear windowboxed at 1.33.1 and from there the screen opens up a bit to anamorphic 1.66.1 where it remains for the duration. The clarity for the film, which is transferred from the original negative, is top notch, at least be DVD standards of the era. While there is the expected amount of natural looking film grain and the odd speck of print damage popping up to say hi every once in a while, there is really not much to complain about in regards to image quality here. When you take into account the fact that they were shot on 16mm film stock it's even more remarkable that these movies look as good as they do here. Flesh tones look, well, fleshy and life like and the black levels remain stable. Colors are nicely separated, no bleeding at all, and there aren't any mpeg compression problems or issues with edge enhancement or shimmering worth noting at all, which is a very good thing.

    The English Dolby Digital Mono soundtrack sounds fine. There's not a whole lot to work with in regards to channel separation or anything like that but you can't really expect a crazy surround sound track for a seventies sex film. Dialogue is clean and clear and there aren't any audible problems with hiss. A few scenes sound just a little bit flat but that's more likely due to the fact that they were made fast and cheap than anything else.

    Fantasm has a nice selection of liner notes written by Chris Poggiali who documents the background of the movie and puts it into context particularly against the rest of the Australian movie making scene of the time. Next up is the original theatrical trailer for the film, which really plays up on the casting of the top porno stars of the day.

    A commentary track with producer Anthony I. Ginnane is included as well. He discusses working with the American porn talent of the day and how they ended up working in the United States. He discusses the original working title of the film and how they aimed to shoot one fantasy per day on the short shooting schedule that they were working on, as well as the differences between shooting in Australia and the US. He's also got some great stories about working with a small crew (how often does the producer help out with catering on the film?) in some odd locations.

    Fantasm Penetrated is a look back on the film courtesy of those who worked on it (actually just Ginnane and Richard Franklin as Richard Bruce), interspersed with clips from the movie. They discuss Bill Margold's involvement in helping to get the right people involved in the performing aspect of the film, as well as some of the controversy surrounding the film on its release. They discuss the sequel that came out after the success of the original film as well and at almost twenty three minutes in length, they manage to pack quite a bit of information into this little documentary.

    Fantasm - The Final Word:

    Fantasm is a solid doses of good, clean, 'dirty fun.' Synapse has showed a whole lot of tender loving care in the mrelease of this fine film and aficionados of sexy seventies sinema would be doing themselves a big favor by adding this release to their lusty libraries.