3 out of 5
A Blu-ray-sized, 120 page booklet packaged with the 2017 Phantasm boxset, the Compendium is both an impressive extra and a somewhat useless one, if held up against the info in the bonus content available with each movie. But, true enough, not everyone is going to sit through 9 hours of commentary tracks and hour long making-of featurettes, so you could view the Compendium as exactly that: a more concise collection of that content. …Only it sort if fails at that, too.
The plus side is that writer / compiler Ben Wan is undoubtedly a fan and respectful of the series, which makes the booklet easy to read, despite some editing hiccups (a section entitled Phantasm II is actually about III) and a completely baffling ordering if information that hops between interviews and insights without any sense of chronology or grouping… or at least an index page in case you wanted to jump around to a preferred section. Still, going back to the ‘fan’ concept, Ben asks questions you’d hear yourself likely asking at a con, so there’s a goofy charm to the DIY setup of the book, which you could say about the movies as well.
But: it hardly scratches the surface beyond those fan-ly.musings, and the vast majority of the photos are screen grabs; nothing much new under the sun. And as it seems to have been compiled at different points before and after Ravager, there’s a occasional discrepancies in those musings as well. Unavoidable, sure, if this was a re-released book with added content or culled from various eras, but all that could’ve been clarified with that handy index and some notations (i.e. dates on the interviews).
You were going to plunk down dollars for this boxset regardless, so the presence of the Conpendium is strictly extra. That it’s well made and well intentioned make it a worthwhile browse, but unless you haven’t explored the bonuses on the individual blurays, there’s hardly anything new for the book to offer.