Head Games: Phantasmagoria (1995)

Pray its only a nightmare.

The year was 1995 and I was just beginning to overcome my naivety of the horror genre thanks to a little exploitation film called I Spit on Your Grave which my best friend at the time had so cleverly purloined off of his sister's boyfriend. It was my first real experience with "adult content" as it related to nudity/violence and, after the initial shock wore off (seeing a man castrated will do that to a boy), it had me curious for more. That's when my friend introduced me to a game called Phantasmagoria.

Released by Sierra (now owned by Activision), Phantasmagoria fell into the 90s trend (along with Night Trap and The 7th Guest) known as full motion video gaming in which real footage of actors were inserted into the gameplay instead on animation. Much like I Spit on Your Grave, Phantasmagoria was considered to be taboo for its time, due primarily to its controversially violent content depicting all manner of death and torture.

A point-and-click adventure game wrapped in the bondage of a mystery the story's protagonist was a writer named Adrienne Delaney who, along with her husband Don, purchase a creepy old mansion once belonging to an equally creepy magician named Carno. As Adrienne, you are driven by horrible nightmares to explore the mansion only to find that things get exponentially stranger (we're talking David Lynch meets The Exorcist here) the longer you play. Aside from the rigid graphics and cheesy dialogue, Phantasmagoria was engrossingly addictive and actually remains one of the best rated horror games for the PC. Just check out the clip above for just a small taste of what the game offered players... the demon was the least offensive death Phantasmagoria offered.


  1. Geof said...:

    I loved Phantasmagoria!!!! When it was released, I remember working at a video game store and having to ID people when they tried to buy this game - no shit.

    It was like a horror-version of Myst but with the full motion video scenes. And the death scenes were something to see. I did a series of posts on my blog the last couple months on horror in video games and I contemplated doing a post on this game's in-name only sequel, Phantasmagoria: Puzzle of Flesh. You really inspired me to move forward with that. If you haven't played the sequel, it's like a whacked out cheesy b-horror film but I freaking love it. It has dialogue that is even cheesier than that in the original if you can imagine that.

    Still have the game too, but the box was destroyed in my move up north.

    Thanks for reminding me of how great the original was back then!

  1. Strange Kid said...:

    Duuuude, I never realized there was a sequel!

    I feel an hour-long Google search coming on, haha. I'm glad I could inspire you to drudge up the cheesy b-horror happiness and look forward to your post on its titular offspring.

  1. Anonymous said...:

    I always saw this on the shelves of my local Electronic Boutique but never picked it up. Is it still in production?

  1. Strange Kid said...:

    Not as far as I could find, its mostly available only through E-Bay and resellers on Amazon.

    The company that made it, Sierra Entertainment, was bought awhile back by Activision and has drifted into obscurity ever since.

  1. I can remember playing this in my computer class in high school. It was tons of fun, thanks for the awesome review!!

  1. I remember this game! I somehow managed to talk a friend into buying it and she had to play it with the "censor" on because it was too scary.

    I only recall bits and pieces but at one point we had to blind our husband with photo developer and there was this one death scene that involved babies and a meat grinder...

    Good times.

  1. Geof said...:

    Hey Strange Kid, I followed through with the inspiration and finished the review. I linked back here for the original. Check it out when you get a chance. If you never heard of the sequel, you can see the whole thing on youtube, but it's not as fun as actually playing the ridiculousness.

  1. This post brings back some memories. The moment that sticks out in my mind is the part where the lady gets her face slammed into a wine bottle (or was it a glass?). Either way, some gruesome stuff.

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