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ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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Phantasm Ravager(2016)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: David Hartman

Starring:
Reggie Bannister/Reggie
A. Michael Baldwin/Mike
Angus Scrimm/The Tall Man
Dawn Cody/Dawn
7 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
Reggie (Reggie Bannister) is still trying to find his buds Mike (Michael Baldwin) and Jody (Bill Thornbury) and The Tall Man (Angus Scrimm), armed with his Ghouls are of course in his motherf*cking way. Lots of alternate realities, splatter and Reg goodness ensues!
THE LOWDOWN

I’m a PHANTASM fan. It’s an odd little franchise that makes little sense, but I have a soft spot for it as a whole. I loved the first film and the big budget sequel greased me right. I didn’t care for Part 3 though which was too jokey/cheesy for my tastes while I was half and half on Part 4 (at least they went back to a more grim tone in that one). Now we haven’t partied with The Tall Man since 1998. We came close to getting the Roger Avary penned big budget finale PHANTASM’s END but alas that wasn’t mean to be. I was convinced that was that on that with this series but then BOOM, out of nowhere PHANTASM RAVAGER (WATCH IT HERE) nade-dropped our way to give us one more go around with them balls. Worth the wait?

For the most part yes. In my useless opinion this one is only for hardcore fans of the series, as I doubt anybody else will get into it as much as they should, and forget introducing newbies to the franchise with this flick – you’ll lose them. I know this world and I was f*cking lost many o times (but just went with it – the way of Phantasm). PHANTASM RAVAGER started off as a planned webseries (they started shooting in 2008) until it got expanded into a feature. Although Don Coscarelli didn’t direct it (he directed all the others films), he did produce it and co-write it. David Hartman (who also DP’d and edited) took this one on and he did a fantastic job in retaining the mood of the previous entries while double downing on what I love about the series. It showed that the film was a labor of love and for me that often supersedes a low budget, which was, for the most part, the case here. So although the CGI (which Hartman created himself – damn- respect) wasn’t top notch at times, for this jerk it did the job. There were a handful of moments that totally wowed me! For example the bits with the giant spheres going buck-nuts or that slick push in through a  Tall Man ravaged city. Damn. I was all-smiles!

Speaking of smiles; they should have renamed this one to: PHANTASM: The Reggie Bannister Show! The lad was in solid form here and totally wooed me with his charismatic, hilarious and at times moving performance. The Reg was on fire and he was one of the main reasons I enjoyed the flick so much. I just wanna have a beer with the guy and be "duded" by him. Too muhc to ask? Yeah, this was his show! It was also swell seeing old cast members make a comeback. Good old Mike (A. Michael Baldwin) and even his brother Jody (Bill Thornbury) popped up (wasn’t he a sphere in Part 4? LOL)! And this was also the last showcase for the late Angus Scrimm (he passed on early this year) as The Tall Man and I am happy to report that he was as entrancing and menacing as ever! I relished his scenes with Reggie as they came with genuine gravitas. There were further surprises in terms of returning cast from the series but I won’t give them away here. Find out for yourself! Add to that the iconic Phantasm theme being used throughout (re-worked by composer Christopher L. Stone), some poignant bits that got to me (I teared up at the end, don’t tell anybody), mucho action and gore, cutie Dawn Cody rocking it as Dawn and all of the franchise’s key ingredients back in the soup full force (the ball breaking Dwarves, the portals, the red planet, Reg’s Plymouth Barracuda and more) and you get an ambitious and fun slice of fan-service cinema!

On the flipside; this baby was all about jumping from one reality to another reality. Yes it was a mind-f*ck, one left up to interpretation and I didn’t mind that – I love those types of jamborees. What I didn’t care for though was that often enough I’d get into the groove of the action in one reality and then BAM, the flick would take me somewhere else. I was into that shit man! Don’t pull me out just yet! It was like a BJ cut too short! I hate when that happens. Then we had the character of Chunk (an able Stephen Jutras) getting on my nerves for the sole reason that they went too far with his shtick. There were just so many times that him calling Reggie "baldie" was gonna be funny. Once was enough for this twat. Moreover the final mano et mano with the Tall Man was a let down. I craved something “bigger” and I didn’t like how it unraveled. It wasn’t satisfying taking into account the build-up and the investment I had in a final confrontation between Mike, Reg and The Tall Man. There were also some minor plot holes (like why didn't Chunk need a gas mask on the red planet) here and there (yes even in a film that goes out of its way to have no rules) and some scenes that were a pinch too low budget even for a film of this small budget (footage from the webseries I assume).

On that, I still enjoyed my romp with PHANTASM RAVAGER. It didn’t really give me any answers (I guess we’ll never know WHY The Tall Man has such a boner for Mike) and asked me to choose my own ending (you can read the finale in a couple of ways) – but hey – it’s f*cking Phantasm! That series has been dicking with me for eons and that's why I dig it! Did anybody truly expect something clear, cut and dry? I sure didn’t! Grab these balls!

GORE
We get lots of spheres sucking out people's blood, a burned corpse, a knife in the head, some blown up noggins, self surgery and more! Lots of CG red!
T & A
Countless big balls. All I got and all the film the film pimped! Reg is getting slow in his old age.
BOTTOM LINE
PHANTASM RAVAGER hit the spot! It gave me Reggie at his best, countless smiles, the Tall Man still spooking, the spheres doing the lovely things that they do, lots of action/gore, a couple of surprisingly poignant scenes and a truckload of creativity! Although its budget couldn’t always match its ambition, (should have done a crowd-funding campaign on this one, it worked for Rob Zombie) I respected and am in a tizzy that they went for it anyways. Sure there was way too much “reality hopping”, some plot holes surfaced, the Chunk character needed to be reeled back, some footage was too lough even for a low budget and the “last stand” was underwhelming, but as the end credits rolled, I was a satisfied PHANTASM fan, all that really matters! I expect that this will be the end of the series, cause you just can’t recast Angus Scrimm. So I anticipate a remake of the first film down the road. Why? Cause that’s what Hollywood does. Thanks for the ride Phantasm team!
BULL'S EYE
There's a mid end credit scene (that I didn't care for) so stay tuned!

It was rumored that Bruce Campbell would be joining PHANTASM's END.

There's a fake Phantasm: Ravager DVD in Don Coscarelli's John Dies at the End (2012).
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