Phantasm: Ravager online movie review - Belated No Budget Swan Song For Reggie And Angus
Reggie Bannister, Aged 70, still taking dwarf names and kicking Tall Man ass. Despite the budget constraints and other shortcomings, this is still the best film I've seen in what feels like a decade.
As a lifelong Phantasm fan who is hugely critical of movies, I was worried the fifth instalment would ruin the decades of mythos building and good will Don and the guys put in to craft one of the most awesome, unique film universes I've ever had the pleasure to see. Alas, my fears were assuaged the moment Reggie came on screen and dropped a Reggie trademarked bad ass line. Let's be honest here, if you are a Phantasm fan, and you like Reggie Banister, and who doesn't like Reggie, lol, then this film is for you. Reggie steals the whole show. Even though he's an ancient relic now, and Angus was even older (RIP Angus Scrimm, who returned to his Red Dimension) he still plays the Reggie character with gusto. It's truly amazing that most of the cast survived all that time to bring us this Phinal instalment to one of my fave film series of all time. A testament to them all. And they kept it consistently awesome, with zero budget.
So let's get to the nitty gritty, is this a Phantasm movie? Yes. Without a shadow of a doubt it is an authentic Phantasm movie, nothing makes sense, the plot is convoluted, and you never are quite sure what is real and what is just in Reggie's head. I was worried that somehow this film might mess up the canon and characters but it doesn't. It adds a whole new host of great characters to the mythos. They even managed to give us new types of spheres, and the film is chockablock full of throwback references to the previous films for the discerning Phan to enjoy. Whilst there are some severe budget restraints, the film is well made and put together. The amateur director does a great job. Don funded the film out of his own pocket, a director who gave something back to the Phans who made him a success. How often does that occur in the business, if ever? The plot is as incomprehensible as always but you do learn a few new things about the Tall Man. But the Phantasm films are legendary for their incomprehensible plots, and this film follows that trend perfectly, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Reggie seems to be flipping from one universe to another until it eventually takes so much of a toll on him, he dies. Yes, Reggie dies. Sort of. But did he really? See? P5 is a Phantasm movie. Like all Phantasm movies, you never really know what is real and what is just a product of Reggie's long abused, deluded mind. The Henri Cuda makes a Phantastic return, and so does the legendary, trademarked 4 barrel shotgun Reggie made. So do the dwarfs and gas mask zombie gravediggers. Also returning is Reggie's libido, he almost even scores if he had just stayed awake a bit longer. This is definitely a film for Reggie fans.
Onto the everyone's fave part of the series, The Tall Man. Angus is outstanding, as always. His catchphrase "boooy" is dropped a few times throughout the film but like the Phantasm theme itself, is only used sparingly. Which all adds to the awesome. It was fantastic to see Angus reprise his most legendary role (using that word a lot but the Phantasm universe and Angus, are legendary so it fits)
Alec Baldwin and Bill return too, damn, even Alec who was a child in the first film, is pension age in P5. Nevertheless, he is still great playing Mike. But good luck trying to decipher Mike's scenes with Reggie, even though they are brilliant. To see all these guys back on screen, after a wait of 17 years, is phenomenal. And Rocky gets a cameo too. The final scene is the best in the film, Reggie, Mike and Jodie, Rocky and Chunk all drive off in the Cuda towards some unimaginable final battle with the Tall Man. It's a show stealing scene every Phan will get a huge kick out of.
It is truly remarkable that they made a final film that not only pays homage to, but also adds new parts to the canon, of the Phantasm universe. And with no money.
I could gush praise for hours about the levels of intricacy and brilliance of Reggie but I'll leave it at this, as a long time Phantasm fan who hates modern day movies, I am going to do something I've never done before and award Phantasm Ravager my first ever 10 out of 10.Whilst there is nothing I can recommend this film to newcomers for, Phantasm Phans have nothing to worry about. Not sure why this outstanding work of art has been getting a hard time in reviews but take it from me, as a life long Phan who hates bad movies, Phantasm Ravager is one of the best no budget films ever made. You could use it in film class to show how to make a watchable, cohesive film with no money, that's how well made it is. It's very similar to 4 in that respect.
As I stated before, the budget constraints are very noticeable but the guys on set are having so much fun with the roles and dialogue, etc, you don't really care the CGI isn't Hwood standard. I'd prefer a thousand films like this than even one modern day CGI blockbuster. It's a real movie, made by a real cast, with real effort and love and dedication. The film is crazy ass manic in places. It has an energy I haven't seen in a film in years.
Reggie Bannister rocks, Angus Phorever! Thank you Don Coscarelli.