Phantasm: Ravager has been on the horizon for a few years now, the conclusion to the decades old saga of an ice cream man and his shotgun vs an ancient mortician from dimensions beyond. If you just hopped on board the Phantasm train (where have you been?) at the last station, you might have a bit of a difficult time understanding just exactly what’s going on as Ravager is all about tying up the loose ends and fan-service, making the assumption the viewer knows all the players and their roles. It succeeds in its mission of delivering a heap of things Phantasm fans will love, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t without issues.
Ravager finds Reggie in the hospital, a diagnosis of early onset dementia the reason given for his lifelong obsession with the Tall Man and his robed minions. Or at least I think so. Ravager, while trying to weave a Coscarelli-esque dimension hopping web of weirdness plot, just ends up being a bit of a confused mess. I understand what they were going for and the limitations they were working with at the time, but while well intentioned, the end result is messy.The movie jumps around so much that you’ll just give up trying to keep it all straight at about the halfway point and just hold on for the ride. Thankfully, there are enough silver orb death scenes that this is a viable option, for the most part anyways.
The most satisfying thing about this newest and final outing into the world the Don Coscarelli created all those years ago is exactly the same as it always has been: watching people get eviscerated by killer Christmas ornaments. The early scenes are particularly satisfying; the car thief’s demise/chase scene that marks the opening being one of my favourites. Unfortunately, as the movie slogs through it’s confusing storyline the effects become more questionable, the heavy use of computer effects detracting from what could have been much more effective (not to mention visually entertaining) scenes. The red dimension/Hell thing was done much more effectively years ago by José Mojica Marins’ in the conclusion to his Coffin Joe trilogy, Embodiment of Evil. It didn’t look perfect, but the physical sets looked far less Wal-Mart $5.99 bin than what is on offer here. The Phantasm movies have never been high budget affairs, but watching Angus Scrimm (RIP) digitally pasted overtop that red mess is a new low.
Phantasm: Ravager spends its run time answering questions I’m not sure we needed answered, but here they are, and while it isn’t neat it is complete and they do their best to wrap up one of the most original horror tales ever created. As a final tribute to a storyline that has influenced a great number of individuals over the years, not to mention one of the most memorable villains in Angus Scrimm, this movie is very worth watching. If you don’t have a need to see this storyline to its final (literal) breath, steer your Barracuda clear and set off down any other highway than this.