Phantasm: Ravager movie full length review - A sombre finale
Phantasm was the movie which started my interest in the craft of filmmaking, way back when I was a teenager, and found the original Magnetic Video release on VHS (which has a
copyright date of 1977 on it) I sort of became obsessed with it, its themes and things it touched upon, and how they could do so much with so little. It was creepy (The Tall Man is one of the more memorable villains), intentionally funny (sometimes even simultaneously) and sad (as its lead, 14 years old Mike fears being alone for the first time, following his parents' death, and his older brother's talk of leaving) yet it has a strong sense of bond between the two, and their friend Reggie. I've watched this film countless times since I first saw it,15 years ago, including in its remastered state, this past weekend, in anticipation of Phantasm V.
Phantasm II and III were hit and miss, they had their moments, and gave the story as good of a conclusion as it could ever have, before the dreadful ( and wholly unnecessary) part IV was thrown together quickly and retroactively changed part III's ending. I'm not a fan of this one.
Phantasm V: Ravager, eighteen years belated sequel, finally seeing the light of day in Fantastic Fest, is possibly the best sequel, but it is still a mixed bag. The plot presents a story that even Reggie is unsure if it's all in his imagination, Mike isn't sure if it's all in his own imagination, and even The Tall Man is unsure if it's in his own imagination, or if everything is taking place simultaneously in different dimensions and plains of reality, what with return of the Lady In Lavender from the original (who was some type of embodiment of The Tall Man) and planet- sized flying steel spheres, and the gravediggers, looking more steampunk/ cyberpunk than ever.
But let's be honest, the plot went out the window decades ago, and this film is really just an excuse to get the gang back together for one last go. Friends who have known each other for the majority of their lives, nearly half a century, getting back together again for one last time, for an admittedly awkward group hug, before saying goodbye for the last time. Given the fact that The Tall Man himself, Angus Scrimm, died earlier this year, that feeling is amplified. Regardless of any loose ends in the film, this is the end of the line, the last time fans will see these actors and characters.
I might write a bit more later, but for the time being, and without giving away any "plot" details, the film has a bit less dialogue than its predecessors, events and scenes progress more visually and atmospherically, and the effects work is all over the place, with some scenes actually benefitting from the lower budget. I'm unsure how the film will hold up to rewatch, but for now:
Phantasm: 10/ 10 Phantasm II: 4/ 10 Phantasm III: 5/ 10 Phantasm IV: 2/ 10 Phantasm V: 5/ 10