REVIEW: Phantasm – Ravager (2016)

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2016, Silver Sphere Productions

Director:
David Hartman
Producer:
Don Coscarelli
Writers:
Don Coscarelli (original characters and screenplay)
David Hartman (screenplay)
Cinematography:
David Hartman
Editing:
David Hartman

Cast:
Reggie Bannister (Reggie)
A. Michael Baldwin (Mike)
Dawn Cody (Dawn/Jane)
Stephen Jutras (Chunk)
Angus Scrimm (The Tall Man/Jebediah)
Bill Thornbury (Jody)
Kathy Lester (Lady in Lavender)
Gloria Lynne Henry (Rocky)
Daniel Roebuck (Demeter)
Daniel Schweiger (Car Thief)

All good things come to an end and that’s exactly what we deal with as after nearly four decades, one of horror film’s classic series comes to an end…or does it?

Reggie has been in a battle against the deadly mortician known as the Tall Man for decades. He is in the desert and learns someone has stolen his car. When he is picked up by a man, he learns that the car is actually his. To make things worse, the Tall Man sends his deadly spheres to go after Reggie, but Reggie is able to defeat them. The only thing is, it was all a dream. Reggie awakens in a local hospital with Mike, his old friend who had helped him in the battle with the Tall Man. Mike informs Reggie that he has been diagnosed with early on-set dementia. Reggie refuses to believe it and tells Mike of the dreams he has been having.

As Reggie continues to tell his stories, he ends up awake in the hospital where one night, he finds his roommate being none other than an elderly man named Jebediah, who in actuality is The Tall Man. The Tall Man is hell-bent on world domination and goes as far as offer Reggie a deal that he will not continue the battle as long as Reggie stays out of his way. When Reggie tells the Tall Man he wants Mike and Mike’s brother Jody as part of the deal, the Tall Man refuses. Soon, Reggie awakens in the real world, one the Tall Man has now made good on his promise and started an apocalypse via an alien virus. Reggie joins a rebel force consisting of Mike, Jody, Rocky, and two new members, Jane and Chunk. Together, they plan to overthrow the Tall Man and make the world safe again.

After nearly 40 years, the age of Phantasm officially comes to an end. While this time around, series creator Don Coscarelli hands the reigns over to David Hartman, who is known primarily for his work in animation, Coscarelli still had a hand in the script and producing. After all, Phantasm is Cosacrelli’s baby. So while it is fitting to see this series come to an end, this final installment is not without its flaws and it is mainly in the screenplay, which actually was meant to be a web series according to some sources and took a few years to complete.

What makes this horror series stand out is that from the beginning, the film’s core cast, notably Reggie Bannister and Angus Scrimm (A. Michael Baldwin and Bill Thornbury did not appear in 1987’s Phantasm II but returned to the rest of the series) appeared in all of the film series. We now have Reggie and the Tall Man locked in a battle that can determine the fate of the world. The vibe feels like The Matrix in terms of its use of alternate realities without the kung fu of course. Reggie’s dreams show him traveling through some sort of time paradox that leads him to the supposed real world, where The Tall Man is now a godlike creature who has started the apocalypse.

Granted, Angus Scrimm, who sadly passed away this past January, once again shows he had not lost a step in his role of the Tall Man as he plays mind games with Reggie. But the story, due to its production, can be confusing if you miss a second of it. The reason is that we see a now grown up Mike telling Reggie in his opening scene that he doesn’t know anything about the Tall Man until midway through the film, he tells him he has been having the same dreams as Reggie. One of Reggie’s dreams involves a mysterious woman he meets named Dawn who lets him stay at her family farm and she eventually becomes a victim of those deadly spheres. He sees her again, only this time as Jane, one of the rebels against the Tall Man. She is played well by Dawn Cody and in an interesting twist, we see the return of Phantasm III protagonist and kickbutt female Rocky, once again played by Gloria Lynne Henry.

The spheres once again are the highlight of the film, showing their deadly accuracy when it comes to its victims and of course, the blood shooting out of them once it hits its victims. While this time around it is more CGI reliable at times, when the practical effects come to play, they look quite good.

While it may seem confusing if you miss any of it, Phantasm: Ravager is a fitting end to one of horror films’ classic series and truly the end of an era. We will never forget the deadly spheres or the Tall Man, or even the team of Reggie, Mike, and Jody.

WFG RATING: B-

DVD/BLU-RAY

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