BOY! The Original Phantasm Cast Returns with an All-New Sequel | Fanboys Anonymous

BOY! The Original Phantasm Cast Returns with an All-New Sequel

Posted by Fellonius Munch Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Late last week some of us were treated to a surprise new movie trailer. That trailer was for a sequel to one of the horror genre's most original and beloved franchises. But hey, why am I talking like nobody knows what that franchise is? It's written in the damn title!

The original 1979 Phantasm cast return for the long awaited finale to the ghoulish horror series

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.

Reggie Bannister, pictured in Phantasm: Oblivion, returns to battle the Tall Man in Phantasm 5: Ravager
"Yeah, come on, Don! My 70's ice-cream vendor suit's gettin' a bit "ripe!"
So what does Phantasm: Ravager have in store for us fans?

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.

Phantasm III horror comedy zombie cop scene
"Sure thing, officer, here's my license and registration!"
Come the end of Phantasm III, Mikey learned that his deceased brother had been kept around by the Tall Man as one of his freakish and deadly flying orbs. He too was then abducted and mutilated, his own mind becoming encapsulated in one of those same orbs. Phantasm: Oblivion was about Reggie's desperate attempt to find the lost Mikey as he wandered the land for answers, traveling through time and different dimensions, then meeting the Tall Man in his original incarnation—as Civil-War era doctor and inventor Jebediah Morningside!

Angus Scrimm in Phantasm: Oblivion as Jebediah Morningside pre-Tall Man
"Penny for your thoughts, young lad! Ehhh, actually I'll just take YOUR BRAIN!"
Frustrating to many, Oblivion offered an ending and finally an explanation to the Tall Man's purpose for embalming the living and turning them into psychotic Jawa-type midgets. What world has he come from? What is his mission, his ultimate goal? What was his fixation with Mikey? We learned that he wasn't the typical pure evil to expect from such an iconic horror monster, at least not always, and that he expected Mikey to become his apprentice and eventually his replacement. But why choose somebody who so opposed him?

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.

Touchy rapper Kanye West interrupts Taylor Swift's award speech to announce another Phantasm movie
...of all time!
You could look at it as the prototype to the Silent Hill franchise, also as the godfather of puzzling horror series such as SAW. At its '80s/'90s B-movie horror best, it was about Reggie, the double-double-barreled shotgun wielding ice-cream man, comically getting his arse kicked by zombies, midgets, and chainsaw-wielding henchmen while failing miserably at getting laid. Its first and fourth installment, however, proved that it could also be a very thoughtful and touching drama as well as a horror-comedy of sorts.

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.

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