October 17, 2016 Phantasm: Ravager (Movie Review)
“I believe they bring us here to die” says Jebediah, aka The Tall Man, to Reggie from his supposed deathbed in the fifth and final Phantasm film, Phantasm: Ravager. Marking the only film in the 37-year Horror film franchise not to be directed by Don Coscarelli, the idea of the final Phantasm film has been floating around for years. In fact, Coscarelli made it known he wanted to make another Phantasm covering various characters like Mike Pearson, or delve into the Phantasm mythology further, however, none of these could coalesce. With 1998’s Phantasm IV: Oblivion, many thought it was the last they would see of the franchise, then, rumblings going back to 2007, a sequel was definitely happening despite vague details. Then, after years of rumors and ideas floated around, in 2014, it became a reality as a trailer was unveiled on the film’s site.
Going back to the beginning, Phantasm has always held a special place in the heart of fans, with a story written by Coscarelli in of vein of Ray Bradbury’s 1962 novel, Something Wicked This Way Comes, the 1953 film Invaders from Mars, and Dario Argento’s 1977’s Suspiria. That said, excitement ran high when it became evident Phantasm: Ravager was not just a concept, but reality. Co-Writer and Director David Hartman teamed up with Phantasm creator Coscarelli as Producer, while bringing on series mainstays Reggie Bannister as Reggie, A. Michael Baldwin as Mike Pearson, and Angus Scrimm as The Tall Man. All a cherry on top of the cake for fans, release was set back a few times, and sadly, on January 9, 2016, Scrimm passed at the age of 89 years old. His swan song reprising the role that made him famous in the Horror community, Phantasm: Ravager premiered in Austin’s Fantastic Fest on September 25th, and finally received its rightful public release on October 7th via Well Go USA Entertainment. So with so much of a story surrounding it, does Phantasm: Ravager live up to fanatics expectations?
Starting with Reggie trailing The Tall Man through the desert on foot while looking for his brother, Mike, someone pulls over and offers him a ride for a fee. Reggie agrees and they take off, making small talk until Reggie drops the bomb that the car’s really his as he pulls a gun on the guy. Taking his money, car, and the guys clothes, Reggie sets off again, but with The Tall Man’s Sentinel Spheres in hot pursuit. Can Reggie kill The Tall Man once and for all, or will The Tall Man cause the Apocalypse, and claim victory?
There is a hyper, dream-like disjointedness to the plot, yet there is still a cohesiveness in this world. Also, there is a feeling of sadness that surrounds the story, and not just because Scrimm passed away prior to the film’s release. Since Phantasm: Ravager has a dream-like feel, it clips due to Hartman’s editing, clocking in at 85 minutes, making it the shortest Phantasm film. A matter of 5-10 minutes difference from previous chapters in the series, sometimes those moments can be vital, and in order to catch all Phantasm: Ravager has to offer, fans really need to bring their full attention. Complemented by bringing original key cast members together one last time, they are older, but in good form. That said, each actor, including Bill Thornbury returning to reprise the role of Jody Pearson, slip back into their characters like a favorite blanket, which helps the dream-like format not be jarring.
According to Coscarelli, Phantasm: Ravager was shot in the South California area in 2012 and 2013. Even then, the color palette is hyper-rich no matter the dimension with the perceived real-world the correct textures, just richer, and the alternate world full of various blood red hues. The film’s final sequence, just before the first set credits role, has a legit real world palette. That said, all dimensions are vast with wide shots while keeping the feel claustrophobic tight. The computer graphics done are not the best, still, in the dream worlds, it works in its glitchiness. Because of this, there is a cartoon-like equality to the spheres, even as they bear down on their victim. Then, it is pure horror as they do their business, especially with Chris Stone’s music score in the backdrop adding to the mood.
As mentioned, there are more than one set of credits, so stay through them all. Since there is no replacing Angus Scrimm, Phantasm: Ravager is a fun; albeit sad plot-wise, and real world send off for the franchise. With fun acting and intriguing editing, everybody involved did the product proud. Though short, leaving audience’s yearning for more, CrypticRock gives Phantasm: Ravager 5 out of 5 stars.