I don’t have any nostalgic ties to the “Phantasm” franchise, which is important, because it seems to me like its most passionate fans are the ones who grew up with it. I’m sure I’d seen the box cover during one of my many video store adventures as a kid, but for one reason or another, I never rented it. I actually do remember hearing about the struggles “Phantasm IV: Oblivion” endured behind-the-scenes. I was even momentarily intrigued when one of the ‘horror news’ websites I followed claimed that Bruce Campbell was attached, but when that fell through, I turned my attention elsewhere. I would eventually see “Phantasm” and “Phantasm II” years later, although my rigorous… movie viewing… schedule kept me from pursuing the film series to its conclusion. In fact, “Phantasm V: Ravager” is arguably responsible for the creation of ‘Compulsive Franchise Disorder’, as the passing of Angus Scrimm played a significant role in me wanting to finish the franchise — my stupidly convoluted movie viewing schedule be damned! This is the type of subject that my review series was born for. The “Phantasm” movies have been both good and bad. They’ve made money and flopped. They’ve been lavish and cheap. They’ve divided the fans and united them. They’ve undergone troubled productions and would drastically change over the years, establishing an identity that’s entirely their own. “Phantasm” is often regarded as the little franchise that could, only existing because of one director’s passion for the material and one fanbase’s dedication to his vision. Will I join their ranks? Will I become a… phan?
Wait, what? Is that really what they themselves? Because I kind of want to piss on the namesake for that alo —
Anyway! Throughout this review series, we’ll try to make sense of this franchise and its cult appeal, while chronicling the obstacles that the filmmakers would face in simply getting some of these movies off the ground.
(Written and Directed by Don Coscarelli)
(Starring A. Michael Baldwin, Bill Thornbury and Angus Scrimm)
I’ve seen “Phantasm” before, but even though I found it to be a creepy, stylish horror film, I don’t think I quite registered its thematic material. The chaotic narrative is sometimes choppy, but it’s also obvious that director Don Coscarelli was staging scenes to resemble actual nightmares — especially from the perspective of a child. I remember how my fears of death manifested in the dreams I had as a kid, although it was less gothic than “Phantasm” and more… orange… I don’t know why I associated that color with death, but whenever I would have a nightmare surrounding the end of either myself or a loved one, everything would be orange and floating around, as if we were in outer space… an orange outer space… My Mother’s old cat was almost always involved, either threatening us directly or creeping me out with its menacing gaze. If I tried adapting these nightmares into film, it would be really f@cking weird, but that’s part of what makes “Phantasm” strangely relatable. If you try to describe it, it sounds more weird than scary, just like our bad dreams. There’s multiple scenes of our young protagonist waking up from a nightmare, making it ambiguous as to what is real and what his mind is conjuring up. Much of the horrors on display definitely feel concocted from a child’s imagination, especially one that is struggling to come to terms with a death of a loved one.
After I had finished watching the movie, I looked up some of Coscarelli’s comments and was taken aback by how deliberate his creative choices were. The Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) is dressed like a mortician and embodies everything we find unsettling about the occupation, with ‘the twist’ surrounding those Jawa looking mother f@ckers evoking disconcerting feelings about embalming. Now imagine how kids would perceive all of this and suddenly, everything makes sense. Yeah, I might sound like I’m touching myself analytically right now, but this realization grew into a minor obsession for me. I started thinking about my own childhood nightmares for the first time in decades, wondering what inspired my fear of… orange, apparently…”Phantasm” isn’t all just ‘thematic material’ though. Coscarelli keeps things spooky with an excellent use of fog, a foreboding soundtrack that probably inspired a “Nightmare on Elm Street” and a variety of set pieces. The movie can be slow and psychological, only to shock you with a thrilling scene involving flying spheres. One moment you’re in an old fashioned cemetery, the next you’re on another f@cking planet, with flashy lighting and inventive effects work. I never knew what to expect, which kept me in suspense. There are a lot of jump scares too, although they relied more on freaky imagery than cheap jolts, so they’re not the kind that we always complain about today.
I like how the heroes are rough around the edges, with our teenage protagonist Mike (Michael Baldwin) swearing and wearing edgy clothing, although I appreciated that he wasn’t a brat either. He’s an unconventional yet likable hero, while Angus Scrimm’s ‘Tall Man’ is an unconventional yet menacing villain. For one, he’s not the quiet stalker that Michael or Jason would later popularize. He doesn’t speak often, but when he does, his voice scares the crap out of whoever he’s talking to. We even get to see him running at one point, which is an odd visual in hindsight. You don’t see too many gigantic, middle aged men hauling ass like that. The supporting cast is fun, with even minor roles popping out as charming. Reggie (Reggie Bannister) was so endearing that he would gradually become the face of the franchise, even though he’s not in the movie that much.
“Phantasm” is one of those big ‘rags-to-riches’ success stories, being shot on a shoe string budget and enduring disastrous test screenings. I can’t say everything is perfect either, as apparently a lot of the story was cut out, leaving a few noticeable gaps. Even though some of it can be justified through ‘surrealism’, it sometimes feels lazy or disorienting in a “Huh? Did I just miss something?” kind of way. The climax in particular seems… odd… It’s abrupt, but fits the nightmare motif, so I have mixed feelings. Nevertheless, I had to remind myself to include these “flaws” for the review, so they didn’t really harm the overall experience. While “Phantasm” didn’t conquer the industry like “Halloween” did, it still had a successful box office run and scored reasonably well with critics. It influenced a lot of filmmakers, ranging from Wes Craven to Sam Raimi to J.J Abrams and probably inspired much of the Italian Horror genre. But even though I’m a franchise junky, I find myself wary of the sequels, as I feel like continuing the story could only cheapen the original, as ‘the ending’ relies a lot on its thematic material… and it just doesn’t carry as much power if you know that the follow-ups will throw it out the window. I don’t remember much of “Phantasm II” though and the sequels at least have decent reputations, so let’s see what happens next!Rating: 8/10
PHANTASM II (1988)
(Written and Directed by Don Coscarelli)
(Starring James Le Gros, Reggie Bannister and Angus Scrimm)
I enjoyed “Phantasm II” upon my first viewing, but now that I’m revisiting it with a different perspective, my feelings are much more… nuanced. I don’t know if anyone was really demanding a sequel to “Phantasm” nearly a decade after its release, but Universal Studios apparently wanted their own big horror franchise and pressured Don Coscarelli to revive the ‘Tall Man’, even though he himself didn’t seem all that eager to do a follow-up. He eventually agreed and was given a much larger budget — in fact, the largest of the entire franchise — but the cost was his creative freedom. Universal exerted their control and demanded that there would be no dream sequences, nor could there be any ambiguity as to the nature of the horrors. If “Phantasm” was ultimately about a boy whose struggles with understanding death manifested into his nightmares, then “Phantasm II” is… just about a really tall dude and his band of dwarfish monsters… This ended up being a big problem for me because this sequel is not only stripping away what made the original so interesting, it also draws attention to how silly the villains are, if they weren’t potentially concocted by a kids imagination. The second major stipulation that the studios demanded was to recast most of the characters, as they wanted working actors as opposed to Coscarelli’s friends. While the director was able to retain Reggie Bannister (Reggie), he had to replace A. Michael Baldwin with James Le Gros as Mike and this ended up being another issue for me. Le Gros’s performance is fine, but he feels too much like an actor in the role, not helped by the bad dialogue he has to work with. Baldwin seemed more authentic to me in “Phantasm“, although perhaps he would’ve struggled more with the bad dialogue here. Most of the lines in “Phantasm” were generally grounded in reality… bickering amongst siblings, etc… “Phantasm II” has to flesh out its lore, requiring the characters to say absurdly cryptic and mystical things, so perhaps the issue has less to do with the casting of Le Gros and more the writing? It’s never easy to sell this kind of dialogue, with even Angus Scrimm (the Tall Man) having a hard time with it. I liked Reggie in the first film, but I felt like he played the role a little too straight here. He has some amusing facial expressions, but most of his dialogue isn’t funny and he has too many unironically bad-ass moments. I struggled buying him as a legit action hero. Even though I sound like I’m being negative, this is mostly meant to showcase the perils of studio work, at least in regards to how it effected this sequel. “Phantasm II” is still enjoyable, just at a more superficial, less memorable level.
Because “Aliens” popularized action-horror, “Phantasm II” focuses less on creepy atmosphere and more on explosive violence. You really feel like you’re watching a road trip to hell, with Reggie and Mike driving from ghost town to ghost town, which gives the filmmakers a lot of opportunities to showcase the increased production values. The camerawork is more sophisticated and ambitious. There’s more special effects, which range from gore to grotesque monstrosities. There are more sets and you get the feeling that we’re witnessing a slow burn apocalypse in the making, with the boarded up buildings and overturned cars crafting their own kind of atmosphere. I think it’s a cool aesthetic, one that helps “Phantasm II” stand out a little more on its own. Unfortunately, the pacing is really clunky because the narrative jumps around chaotically… which worked fine in the original, as it was part of the nightmare motif, but because the studio wanted to remove those elements, it now just feels like choppy writing. Nevertheless, “Phantasm II” still manages to kind of get away with it because the individual set pieces are all pretty bad-ass, even if they aren’t woven together very cleanly.
When it comes down to it, “Phantasm” was never meant to be a franchise, as its ending was conclusive and contained much of its power. With that said, while it’s easy to badger the studio for removing the ambiguity, I also can’t really blame them because that type of ending can only work once. I think I liked this more the first time around because I hadn’t watched it back-to-back with the original, so I had an easier time adjusting to all of the changes. Maybe I did this sequel a disservice by revisiting it with “Phantasm” so fresh in my mind, because there is still a lot to appreciate and enjoy. “Phantasm II” has built up a devoted following itself, being the most highly regarded of the sequels and some fans even prefer it to the original. Unfortunately, “Phantasm II” unperformed upon release, condemning the franchise to a fate worse than death… direct-to-video…Rating: 6/10
PHANTASM III: LORD OF THE DEAD (1994)
(Written and Directed by Don Coscarelli)
(Starring Reggie Bannister, Angus Scrimm and Gloria Lynne Henry)
Universal had no interest in financing “Phantasm III: Lord of Dead“, but they did offer to distribute it, if Don Coscarelli was able to raise enough funds to complete production (he did). This gave him the creative freedom that he lacked in “Phantasm II“, so he decided to take the story in a new, bold, inventive direction — by completely rehashing the formula from “Phantasm II“. BUT THERE IS A TWIST! He would do so… with less money! We would experience another road trip story, where our heroes would go from ghost town to ghost town, as the country is slowly consumed by the tall man… except they can’t really afford all of those boarded up buildings, overturned cars or even a fog machine… apparently… making this sequel seem significantly cheaper in comparison, even though it really wasn’t. This is some truly avant-garde filmmaking, but at least Coscarelli was able to bring his friends back, as A. Michael Baldwin returns to the role of Mike… for about 20 minutes before being kidnapped by the Tall Man until the 3rd act. But not only that, Bill Thornbury (Jody) makes a comeback too… sometimes… Usually Jody is played by an actual piece of… metal? What the fu — okay, Mr. Coscarelli, I don’t know if I understand your grand vision here. Most of these creative decisions seem designed to aggravate the fandom, especially considering how brutally Liz was written out of the story early on. Wait, we do care about Liz, right? No? Oh well, at least Reggie (Reggie Bannister) has been promoted to leading man. I might’ve struggled buying him as an action hero in “Phantasm II“, but “Phantasm III” plays more into his strengths. He’s a funny guy and I like that he has more-or-less become Ash from “Evil Dead II“, if Ash was balding.
I’m not a fan of “Phantasm III“, but it does have a pretty passionate cult following, probably because everybody loves Reggie. Even though I was mocking this film for rehashing “Phantasm II” earlier, Coscarelli did make significant changes to its tone, for better or worse. I think if you found the first two films more goofy than creepy, then you might prefer this sequel, as the (intended) chills and thrills have been replaced with humor. I wouldn’t describe this as a comedy, but we’ve definitely entered that stage of the 1990’s where no one was taking horror seriously, so “Phantasm III” opted not to take itself very seriously either. I was personally drawn to the franchise by its spooky atmosphere and nightmarish imagery, so all that was left for me was a sloppy narrative that could no longer hide behind surrealism. The strange thing is… I do like parts of “Phantasm III“. Reggie befriends a kid named Tim (Kevin Connors), who’s introduced by F@CKING MASSACRING a gang of home invaders, using F@CKING WEAPONIZED CHILDREN’S TOYS! Awesome! Reggie even snags a new love interest… sort of… in the form of Rocky (Gloria Lynne Henry), a sassy black woman who deflects the chrome spheres with NUNCHAKU’S! F@CKING NUNCHAKU’S! That is so stupid that it goes full circle and becomes the best thing ever! I liked these characters, but they end up having a rather ugly effect on the story, as Rocky brings out the worst in Reggie and Tim fades into the background once Mike is rescued, even though he had brought out the best of Reggie (in my opinion). I had previously complained about Le Gros replacing Baldwin as Mike, but now… I didn’t think either A. Michael Baldwin or Bill Thornbury were that good this time around. In their defenses though, they’re given nothing to work with except bad dialogue. Even Reggie, whose performance is actually very good, becomes problematic because even if I can get past his sexual harassment of Rocky, it’s pretty f@cked up that he’s doing this while the Tall Man has Mike. But — I don’t have to like everything I guess. ‘Phans’ favor it much more than I do.
The movie does still have some cool ideas and I liked how the Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) has become much more mysterious and cryptic. I wasn’t bored, even if I was often disappointed or frustrated. I just don’t particularly care for the direction that the franchise seems to be taking, even if “Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead” is just as eccentric as its predecessors. Above everything else, I do respect this sequel for its efforts. I wanted that slow burn apocalypse to continue spreading and Coscarelli obliged me, even if he couldn’t really afford to. “Phantasm III” was deprived of a wide theatrical release, apparently because of conflicts between Coscarelli and Universal, although it might simply have been because more prolific horror franchises were dropping like flies at the box office during this time period. Nevertheless, it ended up making a killing on the home video market, allowing the opportunity for yet another sequel.Rating: 5/10
PHANTASM IV: OBLIVION (1998)
(Written and Directed by Don Coscarelli)
(Starring Reggie Bannister, Angus Scrimm and A. Michael Baldwin)
Apparently the original vision for the fourth entry in this franchise was something epic, but Don Coscalleri was unable to secure the necessary budget, so had to settle for “Phantasm IV: Oblivion“… a sequel so cheap that it makes all of its predecessors seem epic instead. I criticized “Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead” for having inferior production values to “Phantasm II“, but at least that movie could afford… sets… action… and a supporting cast… Don Coscarelli had so little money to work with that nearly every scene is shot on a barren desert or a lonely road, while he slims out the cast, focusing only on his primary characters. He dug up unused footage from the first movie and seemingly built his entire “narrative” around those deleted scenes. He donated $200 to a civil war re-enactment group in exchange for them performing in a dream sequence, because… reasons? There’s absolutely no story justification for it, so I have to assume that Coscarelli was in desperate need of an action scene, but couldn’t afford any and he just happened to stumble upon these guys in the midst of a staged ‘battle’. It’s not like this franchise has ever cared about making sense anyway, so why not? It’s either that or nothing and nothing is the only thing that “Phantasm IV: Oblivion” could definitively afford, as even some of its visual effects were donated by fans.
I know I sound negative, but Coscarelli’s economic style of filmmaking was the only thing keeping me from falling asleep. I spent the majority of my viewing experience studying his techniques and admiring the inventive ways he’d come up with to save money. I hadn’t done research on any of this until after I had finished watching the movie, yet… somehow… I was more invested in the story behind-the-scenes than I was in the story “Phantasm IV” was trying to tell. The pacing is very slow, patiently building up to the final showdown between Mike (A. Michael Baldwin) and the Tall Man (Angus Scrimm), but the suspense has less to do with the Tall Man towering menacingly over our heroes and more to do with… us not knowing if the director can afford a a satisfying climax, BUT IT WORKED! I was chewing my nails in anticipation. In all seriousness though, I liked how Coscarelli brings “Phantasm IV” back to its psychological roots. The desert landscapes somehow end up being more photogenic than all of the sets built for the 3rd entry, so the imagery is often quite striking and surreal. “Phantasm IV” is much more atmospheric and somber than its predecessor, occasionally even being a little creepy. Yet despite downplaying the comedy, Reggie’s (Reggie Bannister) cheesy one-liners were pretty funny and provided the right kind of levity. The unused footage from “Phantasm” is hit or miss. I really dug the last shot, which is somehow depressing, heartwarming, spooky, mysterious and… unsatisfying… all at once. It was also nice seeing the characters interact in happier times, although I found the scene where the Tall Man gets hanged to be unintentionally hilarious. The problem is ultimately that it’s too transparent that the film is trying to stretch out the running-time and the context for its inclusion often feels forced. But I can see why “Phantasm” purists would be thrilled to see this footage for the very first time. Even if “Phantasm IV” takes too long to get there, I did appreciate that the “story” seems to be progressing. It still often makes no sense, but we do get to learn more about the Tall Man, Reggie undergoes a little bit of character development, Mike gets stuff to do and the Jody (Jody Pearson) subplot is resolved. Both turn in better performances than they did in “Phantasm III“. Angus Scrimm was apparently suffering from laryngitis, which is why he’s much more soft spoken than usual, but I think this makes him more unsettling.
Fans seem divided over whether or not “Phantasm IV: Oblivion” is an improvement over “Phantasm III: Lord of Darkness“, although both films seem to have been embraced on some level. I was originally going to give “Phantasm III” a 4.5/10, as that’s a more accurate reflection of my feelings towards it, but I changed my mind at the last minute because I don’t necessarily think this is the better movie. It’s kind of an ‘apples and oranges’ situation. Do you prefer your ‘Phantasm’ films campy or moody? Do you want more of Mike and Jody? Or a real budget? Your answers will probably determine you’re preferences. I favor this one, but mostly because I was interested in how Coscarelli maneuvered around his lack of production value. The movie itself was kind of plodding, although it certainly has personality. All of these movies do. This is a franchise that somehow balances Mike’s existential dread with Reggie’s desperate attempts to get laid. You aren’t going to get that anywhere else, so “Phantasm IV: Oblivion” is a passable sequel… I guess… Coscarelli intended for this to be a precursor to “Phantasm’s End“, which would’ve demanded a budget worthy of the franchise’s final chapter, but that project fell through. For years, it seemed like the franchise had come to its conclusion. There were talks of a remake, but nothing ever came from them. Everyone involved denied there was a sequel in development, although the brand wasn’t necessarily quiet either. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” reignited some interest in “Phantasm” and it even got a 4K restoration, but still… no sequel.Rating: 5/10
Except… there was a sequel, filmed entirely in secret…
PHANTASM: RAVAGER (2016)
(Directed by David Hartman)
(Written by Don Coscarelli and David Hartman)
(Starring Reggie Bannister, A. Michael Baldwin and Angus Scrimm)
I don’t think anyone was really expecting a “Phantasm 5“, especially after “Phantasm IV: Oblivion” was barely scrapped together to the indifference of the masses. Famous screenwriter Roger Avery wrote a big budgeted finale called “Phantasm’s End“, which apparently would’ve starred Bruce Campbell, taking place in a post-apocalyptic future and featured some sort of confrontation between A. Michael Baldwin’s “Mike” and James LeGros’s “Mike”… What?… But the project was far too ambitious for what studios would be willing to finance, so it fell through. Coscarelli was in talks to do a remake at some point, but nothing ever came of it, so he changed tactics and sought to continue the franchise through a series of web shorts called “Reggie Tales” (lol), but even though they had filmed footage for that, it was apparently cancelled and retooled into… well, “Phantasm: Ravager“, but no one even knew it was happening until after production had already wrapped. Yet it would be a bittersweet time to be a fan. Even though the “Phantasm” franchise has woven through surrealism, psychological horror, grotesque imagery and campy action, a dark shadow had been hovering over it awhile — the mortality of its own cast. It was initially amusing seeing the actors age rapidly from one sequel to the next, because even though years would pass between productions, they were supposed to take place immediately where the last one left off. But the fact of the matter is, the film series was nearly 40 years old in 2016 and has been built around the original cast. A. Michael Baldwin is no longer a ‘boy’, Reggie Bannister is no longer a young man and Angus Scrimm, the personification of death himself… Well…
On January 16th, 2016, Angus Scrimm passed away at the age of 89. He lived a long life and was even able to participate in the development of “Phantasm: Ravager“, but this marathon gradually grew into a somewhat sobering experience for me. I’m at that age where I have a lot of family friends and relatives who seemed so strong and healthy in the fondest memories of my youth, but are now facing what could be the final chapters of their lives. I grow depressed thinking about it and watching Scrimm’s aging from sequel to sequel, knowing where it ultimately would lead, triggered a lot of those anxieties and fears. Am I being silly or ridiculous? I sometimes worry I think about death too much, which might be why I favor the original “Phantasm” so much more than the sequels, as it spoke to me on a more personal level.
Reggie (Reggie Bannister) is wandering the desert after the events of “Phantasm IV: Oblivion“, but is still being harassed by the Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) and his brain sucking balls (err). The narrative is even more disjointed than usual, with some reviewers claiming it’s because of its origins as a series of shorts, so describing the plot will be messy. It can be argued that “Phantasm: Ravager” is simply structured like the original, alternating between a hazy dream and a vivid nightmare. After Reggie survives another assassination attempt, he suddenly finds himself… at an old folks home… where he’s now an old man being told by his buddy Mike (A. Michael Baldwin) that he’s suffering from dementia. Reggie believes it to be another one of the Tall Man’s tricks, but before we can really think about it, he’s suddenly in the desert again — still looking for Mike and battling against the spheres… and then he’s in a post-apocalyptic future, where the Tall Man has conquered the world and Mike is leading the resistance… and then he’s back in the hospital again! The story jumps all over the place and I do believe its ‘episodic origins’ is at least partially responsible. The ‘car scene’ and the ‘farm scene’ are so self contained that I’d assume they were part of “Reggie Tales“, especially because even the film quality seems different. Even though Coscarelli was still closely involved with the production, this is the first entry he did not direct himself, with those duties being given to David Hartman. The new director is clearly a fan of the series and does a good job at emulating much of Coscarelli’s style, while bringing in a new energy that I think the brand needed. Unfortunately, a side effect is his reliance on digital technology, although “Phantasm: Ravager” probably only exists because of it. We’ll come back to that later.
The possibility that the entire saga was a delusion experienced by a dying Reggie is both the most captivating and terrifying aspect of “Phantasm: Ravager“. Just as “Phantasm” was about ‘death understood from the eyes of the child’, this fifth entry might be about ‘death understood from the eyes of an old man with dementia’ and… well… This could explain why the continuity often makes no sense or why everyone seems to age rapidly throughout a short period of time. Don’t you sometimes feel like a decade passes in the blink of an eye? This is also easily Reggie Bannister’s best performance. He still has some goofy quips up his sleeve and… *sigh*… is still trying to get laid, but he has a few poignant moments that made me tear up. It’s funny how I struggled buying him as a bad-ass in “Phantasm II“, but he’s really grown on me as a scrappy action hero over the course of the series. Reggie is clumsy and a bit cowardly, but he somehow overcomes the odds with his resilience, ingenuity and cheesy one-liners. Despite being in his 70’s, Bannister is still convincing in the role. I liked how the post apocalyptic segments draw attention to how Reggie is still just a normal guy who only gets by on the skin of his teeth. He finds himself completely upstaged by more traditional bad-asses, who not only have the youth Reggie lacks, but are much more experienced in dealing with the Tall man. He’s forced to become dependent on them for survival, an interesting reflection of his fate in the hospital. Angus Scrimm isn’t in the movie that much and a few shots of him lurking in the background were probably stunt doubles, but his signature scenes are powerful. It doesn’t help that all of his dialogue seems to be based around death in some way. Very chilling stuff, especially when Reggie encounters him in a hospital bed.
For those who find this material a little too dark for their tastes, the filmmakers do pile on heaps of fanservice, with plenty of fun cameo reunions. I felt like “Phantasm: Ravager” delivered the thought provoking horror of “Phantasm” and the silly action spectacle of its sequels. The movie is coy about which reality is ‘real’, but I liked that, as it lets the fandom choose for themselves. I can’t say that the final entry lands on its feet with the utmost grace though. The presentation looks cheap, relying a lot on bad green screens to serve as sets and REALLY TERRIBLE CGI effects to fill them out. This has always been a low budgeted franchise, but I think a lot of old school fans will struggle adjusting to this digital aesthetic. The movie also feels awkwardly stitched together, as it looks like different cameras of varying quality were used for the individual segments, with some filler shots popping out as especially embarrassing in their cheapness. Yet strangely, this didn’t bother me too much… even though the shitty finale kind of did… I was able to withstand the bad effects because they’re still imaginative. I really liked this sequel overall, even though I was sure I wouldn’t. The movie covers a variety of material. There’s a lot of action and blood. It alternates between science fiction and horror, with some gothic imagery and stylishly colorful lighting. It can be funny, but it can also be tear jerking. “Phantasm: Ravager” is only for long time fans of the franchise… mainly because they’re used to the broken continuity, nonsensical storylines and cheap production values… and boy are these production values cheap. Yet much like “Phantasm“, “Phantasm: Ravager” spoke to me on a personal level. Sometimes that transcends all of the shitty digital effects and I’ll even go so far as to say… *sucks in breath* ILIKEDTHISMORETHANPHANTASMTWO!!!!!Rating: 6/10
I respect the “Phantasm” franchise for lasting as long as it did, especially without falling into a routine. These movies might’ve often been cheap, but they were all imaginative and unique. They blended so many genres together and somehow could alternate between schlock and thought provoking, without ever losing their collective identity. I always emphasize that movies need ‘personality’, because whether they’re good or bad, we’re less likely to forget a film that stands out in its own special way. But am I a fan of the franchise? Eh… I think it’s OK. “Phantasm” is a great horror film that was simply not meant to be expanded upon or replicated, so any effort to do so would inevitably strip away much of what drew me to it in the first place. The sequels found their own voice, which is why the series has such a strong cult following, but I wasn’t as invested in them as I would’ve liked to have been. I hope the “Phantasm” franchise has come to an end, as without Angus Scrimm, any sequel would feel hollow and empty. With that said, I wouldn’t necessarily mind a remake, because I think it would be interesting to see the same story told in a cleaner manner, perhaps accompanied by some real production value. But it would have to be made with the same enthusiasm and care that was given to even the worst of the sequels for it to stand a chance with the… *sigh*… ‘phans’.