Yesterday, I was driven a number of miles that I'm not comfortable broadcasting (thanks, Mommy!) to see two films. Some called it a double feature. The first attraction was the remastered version of 1979's Phantasm, a horror classic that I've had a lukewarm relationship with since I saw it at the grizzled, calcified age of 13. It went right over my head. That initial viewing does leave a mark. I've wizened up a little, and man, seeing it on the silver sph...screen did the trick. It probably didn't need to be remastered for me to enjoy it as much as I did, but for the record, the print was irreproachable. I had tiny hearts in my eyes. I was later told by my optometrist that this is NOT normal. He has prescribed 46 eye drops twice a day for the remainder of my life. Something called embalming fluid.
The crowd puller? Phantasm: RaVager. Look, I capitalized the "v" that time. It means "five" in Spanish. My expectations were fair. I was expecting the new Philm to be lovingly kooky and somewhat confusing. Um, how do I say this? Let me tell you what I personally wanted from Ravager (that's right; one capitalized "v" and no more than one). I wanted closure. Just a mite! A driblet! Sure, I'd give my eyeteeth for all of the answers (or maybe my deciduous set; those milk chompers have to be around here somewhere), but this is a Philm. I knew that I wasn't going to get all of the answers. This is where I spoil shit. If you want my general opinion, well, that's what my ratings are for. If you want general adjectives, it's cheap and irritating. And stupid, though well-acted.
Okay! So how many answers did I receive in thine hands? None! Closure? What the fuck is that? I'm wheeling ahead of myself. The headmost hindrance is the shrimpy budget. Ravager should never have been produced on a shrimpy budget. It was shot on digital, for Alchemy's sake. You shoot this series on film. 35mm, buddy. It's the age of crowdfunding, so that should have been priority number uno (that's Roman for 1-ish). You can't tell me it was an artistic choice. I don't mean to belabor the point, but that really grinds my coffee. The majority of the effects are lousy. It goes without griping that CGI is used as an elementary unit, mainly for gags that could have been achieved via practical means. Listen, if the CGI looks crisp, I don't complain. My conservative estimation is that 80% of the cybernated pseudo-sorcery resembles actual shit.
But that's the candy wrapper. I spoke to you earlier (on the phone, naked) about closure. Ravager's fucking storyline is infuriating. I didn't exit the theater angry, mind you. No, I was much too deep in thought. The asperity I am now directing at poor, innocent Don Coscarelli (I am aware that he didn't direct this sequel) didn't hit me until I returned home. My home, Elaine! We learn nothing about The Tall Man that we didn't already know, we learn nothing about his home planet, we learn...fuck. Hold onto your genitals. We learn that Reggie has been in a nursing home for years on account of his early onset dementia. Mike and Jody? They have never heard of The Tall Man! Also, they're dead. And alive. ALSO, Reggie is fighting alongside wasteland warriors, as The Tall Man has successfully warped Earth into his home planet.
Bolides of fire, zombie mutants donning gas masks, big silver spheres, bigger silver spheres...I know it sounds rad, but we're talking video game graphics. It's pitiful. All of this shit happens simultaneously. In my book, Ravager's worst offense is ignoring the ending of Phantasm: OblIVion. The Tall Man was preening Mike (against his will, but it counted) to be his substitute. He was passing the torch so that - it has been speculated - he could conquer another planet. That plot thread may have squired the franchise to a universe-cuckolding confrontation between two Tall Men. Yowza! Apparently, it was too costly an idea, so we got Raper instead.
Do I have anything positive to yelp on the subject of Ravager? Yeah. Christopher L. Stone's score is seriously amazing. Outside of the main theme (which is still perfect), he steals dalliances with melodies that suit the scene and become glued to your encephalon. As I noted above, the cast is up to the challenge. This is probably Reggie Bannister's best performance in a Phantasm movie. I'm out on a limb, but there are key moments where I was genuinely struck by his emotive-ing. Emo-ing? Erm, no. Acting? Nah, that's crazy. He was really good; I know that. Of course, Angus Scrimm is flawless. How the hell was he both rigid and nuanced? He was the only dude who could convey a Southern cordiality during flashbacks as Jebediah Morningside, while scaring the piss out of you as an alien mortician.
Oh, Dawn Cody. I dug her. She was the redhead. I'm sorry, but the guy who played Chunk was the weakest link. I didn't buy a word he said, and moreover, he's introduced past the halfway mark. Why is that relevant? Because Coscarelli and director/co-writer David Hartman decided that he would be the fucker to kill The Tall Man! He celebrates, but for the death of me, I can't figure out why. Minutes prior to his fulmination, The Tall Man clearly states that there are TENS OF THOUSANDS of Tall Men in other universes. OblIVion already proved that he can't be destroyed. This review is too long. In my defense, Phantasm: Ravager is too shitty, and I had too many comments to squiggle on the walls of my cell.
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 8:04 AM