Phantasm: Ravager is the fifth movie in the franchise, which everybody thought ended late last century with Phantasm: Oblivion, despite the daddy of the series having pushed long and hard for the ending fans have been getting old waiting for. Well, Reggie, Mike, Jody, and the Tall Man are all back. Even the Lady in Lavender, who killed Tommy 35 years ago, is back for this one.
Original writer and director Don Coscarelli is passing on direction duties to director David Hartman this time (whose credits as a director and visual effects artist include Transformers Prime and John Dies At The End), in a move that has both excited and dismayed old-school horror fans. Divide and conquer is the first saying that comes to mind.
Hartman reportedly got the job of replacing Coscarelli greatly due to his work as a visual art designer on the Bruce Campbell horror-comedy Bubba Ho-tep. I have to say that his credits are actually pretty promising. He has a long and diverse history in film, television, and animation, which could actually be perfect for this. Being a fan of the franchise with such experience, Hartman is pretty much helping to end Phantasm the way both Coscarelli and the die-hard fans would see fit.
|"Yeah, come on, Don! My 70's ice-cream vendor suit's gettin' a bit "ripe!"|
A recap on events since that fateful summer's night back in 1979: After discovering that their town was being terrorized by that other-worldly horror icon known only as the Tall Man, lonely kid Mikey, his older brother Jody, and their guitar-strumming ice-cream vendor friend Reggie thought they'd entombed the Tall Man. That came at the cost of Reggie's life, also at the hands of the Lady in Lavender!
Then we learned it was all just a dream! Jody had died in an alleged road accident and Reggie had become Mikey's legal guardian. Then, however, in one strange horror twist, it wasn't really a dream after all, and the Tall Man returned to claim Mikey. Evading him, the two survivors hit the road in search of him as he moved from town to town harvesting the locals to add to his army of minions. The results were often disappointing for the inept ghoul-fighting duo; they never got any answers or managed to keep this nightmare dead and buried for long before falling foul of the twisted hand of fate.
|"Sure thing, officer, here's my license and registration!"|
|"Penny for your thoughts, young lad! Ehhh, actually I'll just take YOUR BRAIN!"|
We never got our answers, dammit, and the closure we sought—seeing Mikey, Jody, and Reggie huddled around Jody's old Plymouth Hemi-Cuda during better days—never happened either!
Over the decades, Phantasm has been quite an influential horror series and has been unique in many ways. For one, Don Coscarelli is the only writer and director of classic horror to stay with his own franchise from beginning to end, aside from George Romero. Second, his is the only classic horror franchise to retain all of its original lead characters, with the exception of James LeGross filling A. Michael Baldwin's shoes for Phantasm II. Third, its soundtrack is one of the most original and iconic horror themes of all time.
|...of all time!|
We're all hoping that Phantasm: Ravager gives fans the closure they seek, answering those long-festering questions and giving this great little cast the sendoff they so well deserve. This latest and most-likely final sequel looks like it's not just going to be a culmination of past events but also one that invites tons of carnage, bloody explosions, and comical dismemberments, just for old times' sake!
Sound off, Fanboys! In a time of classic horror remakes and movie franchises jumping to videogame format, what do you think of this band of rascals tooling up for one last ride? Bearing in mind that no two Phantasm movies were ever the same, are you looking forward to Ravager, and do you think that today's technology can do the old-school horror franchise justice? Comments below, please, and thank you for reading.