Phantasm: Ravager; Director: David Hartman; US Distributor: Well Go USA Entertainment; Country: USA.
The first Phantasm film since 1998’s Phantasm IV: Oblivion, but the first to NOT be directed by series creator, Don Coscarelli, however, he does have a writing credit. This is… Phantasm: Ravager.
My recommendation: do not watch Phantasm: Ravager if you haven’t watched the preceding films.
As one would expect, the film opens with the heroic former ice cream vendor, Reggie. Kinda picking up where the fourth film left off, Reggie is roaming the desert, wearing his semi-iconic ice cream vendor outfit, but looking like he’s been through hell and back – looking at the previous four films, he has!
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Uh-oh: Reggie’s Barracuda car was stolen when he left it behind for a short while, but he manages to find it…when its thief drives up to him – Reggie, for $50, buys himself a ride for a short distance – however, as Reggie knows the car inside and out, he manages to steal his own car (as pictured above). The deadly spheres – iconic from the Phantasm series – have caught up with him, though… And as the true hero Reggie is, he gets the better of them.
What the hell?: Reggie seems to wake up, being pushed in a wheelchair, by Michael, his longtime friend! So what does this all mean? According to Michael, Reggie was found wandering in the desert, but everything about The Tall Man (and generally everything from the preceding films) is all made-up, and Reggie has developed dementia. Reggie doesn’t believe any of the dementia-related stuff, and he thinks The Tall Man has created this illusion. Reggie tells Michael the story, but it’s presented as if to be a dream, and here it is: In a true Phantasm II/III fashion, Reggie picks up a stranded stranger on the roads, and he stays over at her home for the night. In the next morning, after suggesting that he stays a little while, the “spheres of death” deal with the occupants of where Reggie stayed the night. After fighting off a CGI sphere, Reggie comes across a much, much larger sphere in the sky, then our viewing is transferred back to the hospital. From this moment, Reggie constantly transcends between the world of the hospital and that of the large sphere – in the world of the latter, he goes through one of the “gates”, and is faced with The Tall Man (as pictured below).
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In the rest of the film, Reggie continues to transcend between the realities of the hospital and a world where Michael is very much alive and fighting against The Tall Man in a Tall Man-conquered world. In the latter “world”, Michael informs Reggie of how The Tall Man conquered everything…
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Then onto the concluding 30 minutes of the film, which is possibly the worst 30 minutes of the entire series, and for me, prevents Phantasm: Ravager from being a good installment in the franchise.
And here are the key players:
- Reggie Bannister (Phantasm 1-4) is Reggie – our hero.
- Angus Scrimm (Phantasm 1-4) is The Tall Man – the evil guy.
- Michael Baldwin (Phantasm 1, 3 and 4) is Michael – friend of our hero.
- Dawn Cody (Honkers and Your Magic Touched Me) is Dawn – helper to the friend of our hero.
The acting within Phantasm: Ravager is mostly average, but not poor or cringe-worthy, however, Bannister and Scrimm are the stand-out performers, and after all of these years, I still believe in their respective characters.
As a piece of film-making, Phantasm: Ravager isn’t great – starting with the early-on “shaky cam” and direct-to-video-esque visuals, but on a budget of under $1,000,000, I would be grossly naive to expect something of a blockbuster standard. The CGI begins at an average standard but then deteriorates to an unholy standard, specifically in the last 30 minutes of the film in the conquered Tall Man world. The latter CGI is scarier than the film.
The main problem with this film is that it takes at least a semi-devoted fan to watch the entire film – the story is awfully presented at times, and ultimately, it’s a pointless entry in the series. Seeing as the Phantasm series is generally a cult film series, the team behind Ravager probably don’t expect this instalment to be the first viewing of a Phantasm film for viewers, unless an individual genuinely hasn’t watched a Phantasm film, doesn’t care for the story, but just wants overloads of blood and guts – in that aspect, Phantasm: Ravager is perfect.
Generally, here are some positives and negatives:
- Positive: The original trio of actors reprise their roles!
- Positive: Phantasm III‘s Rocky (Gloria Lynne Henry) has a cameo during the credits!
- Positive: The multiverse concept is mostly fun.
- Negative: The CGI is quite bad in the last 30 mins.
- Negative: The last 30 mins in general.
- Negative: Overall, the film is a bit pointless.
Ultimately, Phantasm: Ravager is joint with Phantasm IV: Oblivion as the worst in the series, but should be watched by all Phantasm “phans”.
My final rating: A fun-ish under-90-min film for fans of the Phantasm films and/or B-Movie horrors – get on it!
And most importantly: RIP Angus Scrimm.
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