I had noticed a while back a UK genre specialist dealer was touting what looked to be rather an alluring extreme sex and violence film called 'Fantom Kiler' - the stills displayed at the site looked very enticing indeed but as these films were available on VHS only (well in all honesty I'm a DVD snob these days) and had a somewhat pricey cost too I thought I'd hang back and wait ever hopefully for the elusive DVD release…so after waiting quite some time along comes not one but two DVD releases of the now infamous 'Fantom Kiler' series with both Dragon Films and producers Teraz releasing parts one and two within weeks of each other. Dragon's discs were out at a nice price but as I haven't mastered the Polish or German languages I eventually plumped for the Teraz releases as although they were somewhat more costly they at least offered the English subtitles that I wanted. So settle back and let's see (at long last) what all the salacious fuss is about…
Following an opening titles montage of naked women in peril backed by a low key but nicely done Goblinesque theme, Roman Nowicki's 'Fantom Killer' opens with the police discovering the naked corpse of a shapely murder victim, the detectives sense a link with a previous killing when a similarly buxom female was torn in half by a still uncaptured assailant. The film then cuts to a local train station where two sleazy deviant toilet cleaner variations of Benny Hill (complete with false moustache and boiler suits) spend their day ogling any passing female fantasising about what they would look like naked…needless to say we all get to see what they look like naked as their clothing promptly disappears! We follow one of said fantasy women as she takes a late night stroll through the forest sans high heels, skimpy blouse and no panties (perfect walking gear eh?) As she makes her way through the thick tangle of branches her blouse get caught up and torn so understandably she takes it off leaving her breasts exposed…soon after she decides she wants to cross through a barbed wire fence, so decides she better remove her skirt…leaving us with one leggy butt naked sexy lady sans shaven haven! Before anyone can say 'she's asking for it' up pops our hero the 'Fantom Kiler', the masked black gloved giallo type killer who looks as though he's just returned from a Blood and Black Lace fancy dress ball. After some dirty talk and breast fondling whilst holding the traditional blade to her throat our Fantom hero goes on a slashing and stabbing frenzy before finally thrusting repeatedly the blade up the poor lasses baby maker (ouch!)
And so the 'Fantom Kiler' continues with a selection of either scenes of light hearted comic farce with the toilet cleaners (the broom up the clenched arse scene is downright hilarious) or scenes of extreme exploitation action that would have any misogynist whooping with depraved delight as there seems to be an endless line of statuesque buxom ladies with shaved hoochies whose clothes fall off at the drop of a hat (or should that be swish of a blade) ready to be mutilated by our Fantom hero in his many creative ways! Though you may want to note that although 'Fantom Kiler' is wall to wall nudity and bloody violence there's actually little in the way of actual gore (which would have been nice) but that said there's still no way the folk at the BBFC would want to be watching this! So needless to say plot is not at the forefront in a production such as this and perhaps that is the way it should be anyway. Sure it's mindless misogynistic trash but it's damn good fun trash also. The ladies are all beautiful, each and every one of them stunning without fault. Our masked hero the Fantom Kiler is the perfect archetypal classic gloved killer - ever wonder whatever happened to the guy who was killing all those folk in 70's Italian genre movies? Well he seems to have revived his career here with some great sleazy graphic set pieces and equally deranged one liners about his work as the angel of death. But perhaps the one key thing that actually makes it all work is Roman Nowicki's excellent direction, in the hands of an amateur film maker this would have been grade z dirge but in Nowicki's hands this in fact plays out like a bizarre off kilter stylish sleeper gem…albeit one with little substance or sense of direction.
And it is with the high standard of Nowicki's production that is just one of the interesting pointers that add to the fuel that the 'Fantom Kiler' series is not what it at first sight seems to be. There has been for some time rumours about the origins of these features that are almost as tantalising as the films themselves. The main feeling being that a certain UK genre dealer is the man behind these productions, for long he has been exclusively the only distributor and promoter of the 'Fantom Kiler' franchise - even now all roads from the Teraz Films website leads directly back to the UK site. Myself? I'm still not too sure, whether or not th rumoured top bloke is the man behind the mask (as they say) is as at this time not publicly known. But what I do know is that 'Fantom Kiler' is not the low budget amateur trash that some would expect it to be….more likely the product of a very talented and knowledgeable director who wants to maintain secrecy to his actual identity and let rip with such an outlandish endeavour, a savvy producer with the finance to make this production and a ensemble cast of simply gorgeous porn actresses who were willing to be killed in what would be an interesting and fun diversion from their usual workload. My reasons for saying this? Well check out the film itself…It's slick and stylish betraying its alleged low budget origins…the film has been deliberately made to look like it's got print damage, speckles etc - all so obviously intentionally done…the screen ratio changes from scene to scene, now when this could easily have been masked off to one ratio so why do such a thing?…the Polish dubbing is hilarious, sure it's been done post production but will inevitably lead folk to wondering exactly what the original spoken language was during filming?…similarly the English subtitles are at times downright hilarious and just seem too intentionally bad ("yeh she's a real sleep tooth" anyone)…I could go on!
Whether or not 'Fantom Kiler' is the product of a wary UK based exploitation aficionado or in fact a newly discovered Polish genius is yet to be 'really' known, but either way it has to be said that 'Fantom Kiler' is a massively entertaining sleazy exploitation romp that falls instantly into the category of being a SGM approved trash gem - sex and violence has never been so much fun!
Now how about this DVD release from producers Teraz Films? Well it's actually a pretty decent and solid affair - the print transfer is faultless, with only the intentionally placed crackles and pops showing where they are meant to be seen. The varying ratio non anamorphic widescreen print is strong and colourul throughout, the 2 channel audio is clear and hassle free highlighting the cool thumping Goblinesque theme. As for extras, well you get trailers for all three Fantom Kiler films which makes for a fun addition to the main feature (and an excellent teaser to convince you into buying the other titles!) Finally there's a scrolling stills gallery that really does speed by way too fast rotating the same dozen or so images and although it's done to match the cool soundtrack piece it would have been nice if they had slowed things down a touch.
The crunch of the matter though (aside from everything else) is that viewers of 'Fantom Kiler' will probably fall into one of two categories…those that will hate it's outrageous misogynistic trashiness or those that will absolutely enjoy this visual cavalcade of exploitation fun. Me? I fall happily into the latter - I thoroughly enjoyed 'Fantom Kiler' (and it's sequel even more - but more on the another time) and found it to be one of the most enjoyable guilty pleasures I've indulged in for quite some time. Grab a beer and check this out now!
Review by Alan Simpson
|Released by Teraz|
|Region All - NTSC|
|Ratio - widescreen|
|Audio - 2.0 Polish (with English subtitles)|
|Trailers for all three Fantom Kiler movies, stills gallery|