It took me two days to get through this movie. I originally predicted three, but last night I decided to grin and bear it and watch the rest. Seeing as each movie in this series gets progressively worse starting with Part III, the fact that this final installment (please, God, make this the final installment) did not in any way, shape or form equal the perfect first two movies did not entirely surprise me. Though they did put together a trailer that had me half believing it might.
There are so many things about this installment I didn’t like I don’t know where to logically start, so let’s begin with the blurb on the back cover of the blu-ray and DVD that “states” from the Los Angeles Times, “Upholds the mind-bending originality and emotional depth of the first Phantasm.” That’s completely untrue. Unless the version that reviewer saw and the movie I saw last night was two entirely different versions. In fact I’d love to see the version that reviewer saw. I really would. But that wasn’t my experience.
I never saw Part IV all the way through so I don’t know how Coscarelli ended it, but this one starts in the desert with Reggie (Reggie Bannister) looking like he’s been through hell walking down the middle of the highway waiting for a car to come by. One does. It’s the Hemi Cuda but with someone else driving it and wearing Reggie’s leather jacket. The dude stole it and Reggie steals it back. I liked that beginning, but then it devolves into a car chase with the franchise’s trademark silver spheres rendered it low grade SyFy CGI. A good majority of the CGI in this is really bad. Not all of it, just most of it.
Honestly, I couldn’t really tell you what the plot of this movie was, which is it’s second biggest problem. Something about Reggie living in two different time lines. One where he’s this old man in a retirement home suffering from dementia, indicating the entire franchise may be one big delusion and another reality where he’s Reggie battling the Tall Man in a post apocalyptic world, our world the Tall Man has successfully taken over. The movie jumps between these two realities, until they merge, for some reason, in the final act, but then old man Reggie dies of old age at the end, and Tall Man Battling Reggie lives to see another day with Mike (A. Michael Baldwin) and Jody (Bill Thornbury), driving off into the sunset in the Cuda.
Which brings me to the movie’s third biggest problem: everyone’s too old to be playing their roles. It actually annoys me when an actor won’t let go of a role that made them famous. Case in point, I think Harrison Ford is just too damn old to be believable as Indiana Jones, yet it doesn’t stop him from cranking out movie and after. Same thing with Bruce Willis and his John McClane. The last time I saw Bannister in a movie was in Bubba Ho-Tep (2002), and I was shocked to see how old he had gotten in the interim. Even Michael Baldwin, the youngest of the trio, has gotten to a point age-wise where he also needs to finally put this role to rest. And the late Angus Scrimm is simply no longer menacing as the Tall Man, in fact in this installment he’s more talkative than normal. The Tall Man, at least from the first and second movies, is more a “man” of menacing action, here’s he’s far too conversational.
And finally the whole production looks like it was made for the web. It really does look and feels like a web-series. The whole story is horribly disjointed. It’s not until the final act that I started to get into it somewhat. I will say, though, some of the cinematography has its moments. There are some nicely composed shots throughout. As usual Coscarelli ends the movie open ended, like there might actually be more to come. If there’s ever going to be more Phantasm there’s no way it can be done in its present form. A remake (mini-series or movie) is the only plausible way this franchise can continue. In the recap before the credits I saw they finally gave the Tall Man an origin. I assume that happened in Part IV. That origin just doesn’t work for me, that he was once human? It takes away the menace.
For me Phantasm is the first two movies, though I will admit there are some things in Part III I like, but there isn’t enough for it to get into my DVD collection. Phantasm (1979) and Phantasm II (1988) are where it’s at for me, and I suspect where it’s going to stay unless there’s a really original and stupendous remake that comes out.
Back on December 6th Well Go USA released Phantasm Ravager in solo DVD and Blu-ray formats! Buy here at Amazon!
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 1:78:1 high definition widescreen—2.0 English DTS-HD Master Audio, 5.1 English DTS-HD Master Audio—English SDH subs only.
Extras included . . .
- Audio Commentary With Director David Hartman And Writer/Producer Don Coscarelli
- Behind The Scenes (5:24)
- Deleted Scenes (3 scenes)
- Phuntasm: Bloopers & Outtakes (8:32)
I found the bloopers more entertaining than the movie.