Phantasm: Ravager - The Tall Man

…and closure to a long, loved franchise

Over the last several years, rumors were abounding that Don Coscarelli was prepping a fourth sequel to one of the most mind-bending horror films of the late 70’s: Phantasm. The last sequel, Part IV: Oblivion was direct-to-video in 1998 and received mixed reactions from franchise fans. Production limitations, specifically money, came into play and that same issue would play a pivotal part in delaying the fifth installment.

However, when the first screen images and teaser poster leaked in early 2014 – Don Coscarelli let the true salivating begin. Veteran actor, the late Angus Scrimm, spoke highly of the shoot and it was later revealed that all the original cast members would be back for what would be the fifth and final adventure for Reggie (Reggie Banister), Mike (A. Michael Baldwin) and Jody (Bill Thornbury).

Distribution can be a bitch and that would ultimately be the reason why “phans” had to wait two extra years to finally see the film. Thankfully, Well Go USA Entertainment answered the call and finally put out the DVD; complete with absolute respect for the project as the DVD comes with Audio Commentary, Behind-the-Scenes Footage, Deleted Scenes, Bloopers, Outtakes and the Trailer!

Phantasm: Ravager

I was ready for Phantasm: RaVager

Perhaps it was all the internet hype and secrecy of the film details that I just wanted to enjoy this movie so much that I would overlook anything negative, or maybe it was the fact that the world lost Angus Scrimm which truly means this is the final time we will see The Tall Man in all his glory – either way, I was ready for Phantasm: RaVager and it did not disappoint me one bit.

Keep reading after the trailer

A fantastic score hits and we are right away thrust into the world of Reggie where in this new adventure, he is searching the desolate wastelands of Earth – post Tall Man encounters – searching for Mike. It has been nearly twenty years since part four, but the plot itself takes place ten years later (since early scenes of Reggie were filmed in 2008 when the project was going to be a short online series and not a full-length sequel). The actor, Reggie Bannister, hasn’t lost his touch at all with the character, resuming all the quirks, one-liners, and nuances that made the character such a fan favorite to begin with. Once he reclaims his 1971 Barracuda, then the film really launches into gear with an early confrontation with The Tall Man. Hearing Angus Scrimm’s voice once more instantly sent chills down my spine and every word seemed Godly – thundering around my surround sound speakers.

It wouldn’t be Phantasm though if the story actually seemed to make sense the whole way through, oh no, suddenly we’re thrust into an alternate reality – or maybe the real world – of Reggie suffering from severe dementia and receiving a visit from Mike. Suddenly all the stakes just got higher as we, the audience, don’t know exactly what is happening and the realization kicks in that one of our favorite characters is ill and dying. As another horror icon says, no tears please as it’s a waste of good suffering, and Don Coscarelli along with Director David Hartman realize this and give us a balls-out (steel balls or spheres to be exact…BIG ONES!!!) apocalyptic grand finale where it is all out war against The Tall Man and his legions of undead. Mike, along with deceased brother Jody, re-unite with Reggie and they take it too the streets for some hardcore combat.

The CGI in the film is acceptable because as we watch it, and for those fans who know the struggles of putting this film together in the first place, we obviously do not expect major Hollywood CGI effects. The killer spheres served their purpose and the landscapes, grain, lightning, dust, and crumbling earth blended well into the film shot with the actors either on green screen or make-up set pieces. It is a step up from any SyFy channel feature too. The music by Christopher L. Stone is great and those old Phantasm themes creep into the action and suspense at all the right moments including the opening and closing credits.

Phantasm: Ravager - Reggie

Indeed a tremendous improvement from Oblivion, RaVager succeeds in piecing together story elements that tie the entire series up with hinting explanations as to what characters are truly where in their lives, and when we finally have to say Goodbye to them, it is done so in true Phantasm fashion that will leave no fan unsatisfied (I would hope!). Kudos to Don Coscarelli for completing his Phantasm vision that began almost 40 years ago after so much red tape, he fought through all adversity, and to the cast, and crew, and director, for spending almost eight years to give the fans the desired closure that was needed but not without the lady in lavender (Kat Lester) and final “BOYYYYY!” to echo into eternity.

Visit www.phantasm.com for all the details on the series including RaVager!

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Jeff T. Smith
Written by Jeff T. Smith

Jeff is a Canadian-born Horror-holic — or alcoholic depending on whom you ask. His interest falls mainly into the horror genre, but does enjoy a variety of beer and alcohol. He also was a former Creative Writer in the Ontario Independent Wrestling scene and performed as villainous ringside Manager Kyle Davenport. Unapologetically driven and creative, Jeff isn’t afraid to speak his mind or share his opinion. Follow Jeff on Twitter @KDavJeff or Find on Facebook at facebook.com/jeff.t.smith.3.