Friends, if you were kind enough to check out my latest offering as part of the Super Blog Team-Up, you are aware that I am quite fond of the character of the Phantom. Much of that has to do with the many mediums that “The Ghost Who Walks” has managed to appear in over these last 84 years – leaping from daily newspaper strips to a 15 chapter theatrical serial courtesy of Columbia Pictures to being a team member of The Defenders of the Earth and so much more. The Phantom‘s popularity is truly World wide – although in truth the character has probably been embraced more outside of the United States over these many years. With his pulp-like origins as well as his striking visual appearance in the newspaper strips and eventually comic books – it is little wonder that eventually The Phantom was able to get a big screen adaptation. It was a film project that had been in talks since the ’80s – when one of the actors being considered for the role was Dolph Lundgren although ultimately the honor went to Billy Zane (Critters, Tales from the Crypt Presents: Demon Knight).
The Phantom first appeared back in 1939 and was the creation of Lee Falk who not only was the writer for the newspaper comic strips but initially acted as artist for the first couple of weeks too. The masked adventurer known as the Phantom is believed to be a jungle hero who can never die – but secretly is a line of heroes that dates back to 1536 – when Christopher Walker Jr. swore on the skull of the pirate that slew his Father:
“I swear to devote my life to the destruction of piracy, greed, cruelty, and injustice, in all their forms! My sons and their sons, shall follow me.”
The Phantom was released to theaters on June 7th of 1996 and I am very sad to say it was not embraced by the public at large at that time. I was able to catch the film on opening night with one of my best friends and we both absolutely loved it – finding it to be true to the character and feeling like a throwback to the matinee adventure serials from the ’30s and ’40s. Of course the fact that the cast of the film featured the likes of not just Zane but Treat Williams, Catherine Zeta-Jones, James Remar, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Kristy Swanson, and Patrick McGoohan didn’t hurt. Thanks to this behind the scenes making video – which appears to have been an HBO First Look offering – you can see how everyone involved with the project was having quite a bit of fun. In addition if you are a fan of the movie you might pick up on a few extended scenes and altered dialogue from the finished film itself.