Phantasm: Ravager Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Angus Scrimm, A. Michael Baldwin, Reggie Bannister
  • Director: Don Coscarelli
  • Disc Format: Dolby, NTSC, THX, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • Release Date: December 6, 2016
  • Run Time: 88 minutes

        It has been 18 years since the last installment in the Phantasm franchise, and nearly 40 since the original film, but Phantasm: Ravager is clearly a film for the fan-base already familiar with the narrative. Even with working knowledge of the franchise, Phantasm: Ravager has the potential to confuse and disorient, which was the hallmark of the original. Even the low-budget filmmaking of this final installment is on target with the efforts needed to make the first film, though digital effects are a sad replacement for the creative practical tricks used in 1979.

        What began as an idea for a TV series, Ravager places a supporting character from the first film in the leading role, to be joined by nearly every living actor from the original in supporting roles. This often feels like the ultimate fan-service film, even if it is occasionally at the expense of good filmmaking. Reggie (Reggie Bannister) was an ice cream man and friend to the original protagonists, but we join him as he appears back in the desert after coming through a portal from another world. Reggie continues the mission of trying to take down The Tall Man (Angus Scrimm), giving us additional backstory into his existence along the way.

        Reggie isn’t the only one battling The Tall Man, and along the way he crosses paths with a group of resistance fighters that include Mike (A. Michael Baldwin), the grown kid from the first film. Among the resistance fighters is also a woman named Jane (Dawn Cody), who shares a remarkable resemblance to a woman named Dawn that Reggie encounters along the desert road. This coincidence is as inexplicable as many elements in the film, which often take on a sort of dream logic. In fact, there are disorienting moments scattered throughout the entire film, where it is unclear if what we are witnessing is an illusion, a dream, or an alternate universe. More importantly, there is little effort to explain any of this to the audience.

        Cheesy dialogue, wooden acting, and confounding narratives have long been staples of the franchise, and in that sense Ravager is successful at blending in. What is far less forgivable is the shift towards lazy CGI effects, which aren’t a fraction as frightening as the ones done practically. While I appreciate the ease with which CGI helps in the filmmaking process, something is lost with this approach. More may be possible, but this is a clear case where less would likely have been more.  

        This will have to be the final installment, at least in the original franchise (never doubt the possibility of remakes in today’s industry), as this was also the final film of Angus Scrimm, the iconic actor who is The Tall Man. This is the first of the five films not to be directed by Don Coscarelli, though he co-wrote the screenplay alongside director David Hartman. Hartman has most of his experience in animation, which may explain the distinct visual style of his film. Both Coscarelli and Hartman are included in the feature-film commentary track. Additional special features on the Blu-ray include a behind-the-scenes featurette clearly made for promotional purposes (and only five minutes in length), less than two minutes of deleted scenes, and over eight minutes of bloopers and outtakes. There is also a theatrical trailer.

Entertainment Value: 5.5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 5/10
Historical Significance:  6/10
Special Features: 5/10

1 comment:

Joe Lie said...

despite its potential to confuse and disorient even the most familiar fans, Ravager stays true to the franchise's low-budget origins and fan-service approach. However, the shift to CGI effects, replacing the creative, practical tricks of the original, needs to deliver the same level of fear. In this case, less CGI was likely more effective. For fans of the franchise, this final installment holds significance as it marks the end of the original series, especially with the unfortunate passing of Angus Scrimm, the iconic actor behind The Tall Man. A commentary track featuring Don Coscarelli and David Hartman and other special features adds value to the Blu-ray release. If you're a die-hard Phantasm enthusiast, this film will likely resonate with you, despite its flaws. When exploring case studies for biology, it's essential to approach the subject matter with a critical eye and delve into the intricate details.