HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Phantasm: Ravager
HTS Overall Score:74
The “Phantasm” series has never been really strong on coherence. In fact that’s part of the basis for the franchise. A series that bases its stories on multiple dimensions that overlap each other so much that you can’t tell one from the other. “Phantasm” is one of those enigma films. No one really knows whether it is a giant mess of a film that got cut up into pieces and just “happened” (supposedly there is a 3 hour cut of the film that Director/Writer Don Coscarelli was forced to edit down to less than an hour and a half), or whether it was intentionally a rather incoherent mess. No matter the intentions or the results, what happened was that 1979 gave us an eerily creepy film that didn’t make a whole lot of sense but was strangely disturbing. Really the most vivid thing that people remember from “Phantasm” is a bunch of yellow blooded Jawas running around and the Angus Scrimm walking around yelling “booooooyyyy”!
The sequels weren’t exactly bastions of coherence either, but the 2nd and third film were actually rather creepy in their own right. However the 4th movie kind of got a bit TOO bizarre, almost ending the franchise in 1998. Don Coscarelli has been promising fans of the series a final film for YEARS, and after 18 of those years we finally get that sequel. Although the results tend to be a bit lackluster. I mean, it’s nice to see Jody, Mike and Reggie and the Tall Man all back together, but it HAS been 18 years since the last film tanked and they are looking REALLY old and tired. Not to mention the fact that Coscarelli has given up directorial status and given that to his co-writer, David Hartman. Something that makes the film feel oddly disjointed, even for a “Phantasm” film.
It’s been years since the last “Phantasm” movie, but it ends shortly after the Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) was blown up. Reggie comes out of the desert after searching for Mike (A. Michael Baldwin) only to find out that things aren’t exactly as they seem. After running into a beautiful girl named Dawn (Dawn Cody), Reggie soon comes back into contact with the Tall Man’s silver balls of doom and loses yet another friend. However he almost instantly wakes up in a mental institution with Mike taking care of him. Only thing is that he’s been diagnosed with dementia and Mike tries to soothe his rattled nerves by saying that everything that he’s experienced over the last few decades has all been a symptom of the disease. However Reggie is sure not buying that. Soon he starts slipping in and out of his own mind (or other dimensions) and begins to realize that maybe he’s not crazy. Maybe he DOESN’T have dementia and everything he’s experiencing is all real, just in different dimensions that are overlapping (something the audience is forced to realize no one will ever know for sure).
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=87545[/img]Slipping in and out of three different realities he still has one goal in mind. Defeat the Tall Man and send his minions back to the hell that they crawled out of. The only thing is that he’s trying to do so in three separate worlds and three different mind sets. A feat that is slowly driving him mad or to the brink of an epiphany. Sadly this is something he and we never really truly figure out. As I said earlier, coherence is not exactly the strongest point to the “Phantasm” series. Unfortunately “Ravager” is the LEAST coherent out of all 5 films. It tries to be a mixture of “Army of Darkness” with Reggie cloning many of Ash’s goofy phrases and action star power, but then mixes itself in with a heavy dose of insanity and time shifting. Then top it off with a giant cherry of uncomfortably bad acting and screen writing.
The biggest promise was that this was going to be an END to the film, but the ending for the Tall Man comes very awkwardly and by a brand new character instead of a heartfelt effort by the long standing cast. Something which feels like it’s nothing but a setup for “Phantasm 6” instead of wrapping things up like was promised. The film really gives it a good heave ho, but everyone just feels old and tired, something which translates on screen with the actors and characters feeling weary and languid. Reggie Bannister really gives it his all, but his “Ash” persona has gotten a bit weak and the poor writing makes you want to bang your head on a wall for hours instead of grin and bear it. Angus Scrimm still has that creepiness to his voice and gate that made him some a horror legend, but without good writing and capable direction (I still don’t know why Coscarelli didn’t finish the directing himself) the film just flops about on the floor just begging for someone to finish it off. However, from word of mouth, it seems that Angus Scrimm was the biggest cheerleader for "Ravager" and really pushed to have it made. Something which he never really got to see to fruition having died in January of 2016 before the film could be released (may he rest in peace).
Not Rated by the MPAA
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=87553[/img]“Phantasm Ravager” is a stark contrast from “Phantasm (Remastered)” That I reviewed a week or so ago. Instead of the heavy grain and old look to the film, “Ravager” looks very modern and glossy. Almost too glossy at times I might add. The outdoor shots of Mike and Reggie at the mental institution are bright and shiny, with rich greens and a light honey colored grading to the shots. Fine detail is excellent in the backgrounds and the grass and benches look intricately textures. The darker shots of Reggie in his “story” look more desaturated, with dim lighting and a color palette that is intentionally flat. The CGI used in the explosions and fighting look more than a bit cheesy, but “Ravager” WAS shot on a shoestring budget so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. However, in both locations I noticed that the close ups and facial shots tend to look a bit smooth and processed. Almost like they were trying to smooth over the wrinkles on all the actor’s faces kind of like how they did with the “Resident Evil” movies for Millla as she got older. Black levels are surprisingly healthy and there isn’t a whole lot of banding (although there is some crush).
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=87561[/img]Well Go USA has gone the route of Scream Factory and given us a 5.1 and 2.0 lossless DTS-HD MA pair to enjoy. Naturally I give the 5.1 the edge as it’s more vibrant and fuller sounding, but the 2.0 track is by no means a bad experience if you want to do some night listening. The dialog is crisp, clean and well-articulated and I had no major complaints except for some occasional background hiss that I had to really strain to hear. The surrounds get a workout with the adventures of Reggie and the shotgun blasts and roaring of the good old black American muscle encompass the listening position quite well. LFE is powerful and very aggressive, something which was sorely missed form some of the other sequels, and gives quite a bit of weight to the experience.
• Audio Commentary with Director David Hartman and Writer & Producer Don Coscarelli
• Behind the Scenes
• Deleted Scenes
• Giant Dwarf
• Escape from Dawn's Cabin
• Cuda vs Sphere
• Phantasm: Bloopers & Outtakes
The “Phantasm” series is like most horror series. The 1st or 2 films are great, but they steadily get more and more ridiculous as time goes on. Especially when they make a sequel MUCH MUCH later than the rest. This is the case with “Phantasm: Ravager” (the 5th film in the franchise), and while it has the benefit of having all of the original actors make appearances in the film, it suffers from going so far off the rails that it can’t even remotely find its way back. “Phantasm” was a bizarre and unique horror film back in the late 70s, but now with Don Coscarelli no longer directing, it just acts as a strange curio that’s best just shoved back in the shelf never to be watched more than once. I have a strong suspicion due to the fact that everyone in the movie just looked TIRED that this will be the final “Phantasm” film. However, we may be blessed with the other sequels coming from hints that Coscarelli has dropped during the last year, making the series finally complete. Audio and video are solid for the DTV film and it actually has some pretty decent extras. Still wouldn’t recommend it except to the hardcore “Phantasm” fan base.
Starring: A. Michael Baldwin, Bill Thornbury, Reggie Bannister
Directed by: David Hartman
Written by: Don Coscarelli, David Hartman
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DTS-HD MA 2.0
Studio: Well Go USA
Runtime: 86 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: December 6th 2016
Buy Phantasm: Ravager On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Skip It
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