On Phantasm Ravager and the Phantasm Series



Well, I’ve completed my marathon of the Phantasm series, concluding with the final, just released fifth movie Phantasm: Ravager. And I want more. I just love this series. When you think of trippy, fast-paced sci-fi horror series that tell a continuous story over several movies, there’s really not much there. Thank goodness for Phantasm.

Eerie, dream-like, action-packed, with more WTF moments than any ten other series put together. I love it, and the series holds up surprisingly well. I look forward to seeing the revamped version of the first movie where they digitally improve some of the special effects (in some shots in the first movie you can actually see the fishing line they used to run the silver spheres on–but that’s a minor issue).

The series never does answer the question of how Reggie miraculously survived the first movie while Jody didn’t. I guess that will go down as one of the series’s biggest mysteries. And we never really get to learn the secret behind Mike’s connection to the Tall Man, although Ravager does give us a hint (I won’t spoil it).

So how is Phantasm: Ravager? Does Phantasm stick the landing?

I’ve been waiting for years (almost twenty years!) for the story to reach a conclusion, and I have to say . . . hm. It’s not baaad, but, well, it is what it is. A movie made fifteen years too late on a shoestring budget and not directed by the original filmmaker (although he did produce and co-write it). The movie gets very head-trippy, which I appreciate, but unfortunately that aspect comes in part due to an Alzheimer’s subplot. My dad died from Alzheimer’s a couple of years ago, so this hit a little too close to home for me, and it felt a little out of tone with the rest of the series, although I admired how they used it to address Reggie’s suddenly advanced age.

Gotta love Reggie. The lovable side character who somehow became the main character just because he’s so awesome. What a character! A randy hippie ice cream man who can play the guitar and wield a four-barreled shotgun. Love it. They really should have made this movie years ago, though, when he and the other actors were a bit younger. It has been about forty years since the original, after all, and none of them are young anymore.

But I digress. If nothing else, Phantasm: Ravager does indeed feel “Phantasm-y”, and I’m intrigued by how they ended it. I read an interview where Don Coscarelli talks about a possible TV series continuing or redoing the story, and I’ve got to say, that would rock! I would LOVE a Phantasm TV series, but only if Don is involved somehow and it’s done at a high level. Think Supernatural meets Twin Peaks.

I don’t know how they could ever replace Angus Scrimm, the actor who played the series’s villain, the Tall Man, so well and who made him an iconic horror movie foe complete with his own catchphrase. Seriously, try imagining any other actor saying “Boooooy”. It really doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?
So Ravager isn’t perfect, but it does tie things up in an interesting way while leaving room for some stories to come.
I really wish they hadn’t had rap music during the final credits, though. I mean, really? Rap? In Phantasm? Why? It was jarring and out of place.
Sigh. I will fix it in my fan edit.

Because yes, when Phantasm Ravager is available on DVD, I’ll add it to my fan edit combining the rest of the series into one long movie. I will have to do some judicious editing on Ravager, though, paring it down to its essentials and removing the Alzheimer’s subplot, which just seemed out of place and which hits me, personally, in the wrong way.

Okay, so that’s my Phantasm rant. Rant over. Long live Phantasm!