Saturday, January 14, 2017

Phantasm V: Ravager


   Maybe it's because I read all the negative reviews beforehand, which lowered my expectations, but I really enjoyed Phantasm: Ravager. It's quality is on par with literally all the others, don't let the fact it's a newer movie fool you, it's still a direly low budget shlockfest. And fans need to get real. Low budget today is not the same as low budget 20 years ago. A minuscule budget nowadays means lots of computer generated elements. In fact, I was surprised as how slick some of the effects looked, and how many practical effects there ended up being. In fact, this flick was a blast.

   Sure, hardly any of it makes any sense whatsoever, but it's also so gleefully over the top and absurd that it brought back the feeling of II and III for me. Mostly gone is the dour seriousness of IV, and that's a good thing. The plot revolves around Reggie slipping in and out of realities, and in one of them, he's been told he has dementia and that everything about the Tall Man was all a figment of his imagination. In other reality, he's been wandering looking for Reggie, and finds himself cornered at a country estate by the sentinel spheres. In yet another reality, he finds himself in a post-apocalyptic modern-day, ravaged by the Tall Man and his armies of sentinel spheres.

   It's easy to get annoyed by the shifting and especially so when you're 100% certain you know which one is real, and it shifts yet again. There's flashbacks, stories, dreams, and visions- and the viewer is rarely sure about what's going on when, where, or why. But from scene to scene, Phantasm Ravager chugs along on its low budget earnestness, giving Reggie a bag full of guns and plenty of opportunity to use them. The visuals in the movie range from pathetic to surprisingly good, but at least the atmosphere is consistent. Ravager's better moments overwhelm its weaker elements- at least for me they did.

   The story is absolute nonsense, but it makes fun use of some ideas that've been floating around the franchise forever, and actually addresses a few things I didn't think it would. I was pleasantly surprised by some moments in the movie where the scope opened up and we got to see some truly crazy shit. Sure, Phantasm Ravager isn't exactly a good movie, but I'd also argue that none of them really are. They're odd, weird, surreal, and fun- but 'good' is tricky. Enjoyable? Absolutely. Ravager embodies the best qualities of the franchise, even if it's story isn't always the best vehicle for those qualities.

   Angus Scrimm hasn't lost a step as the Tall Man and he gets a speech in this one that is totally spine-chilling. Reggie is still Reggie, and Mike gets more to do in this one than just brood constantly. Bottom line, this movie is exactly what I wanted it to be- mostly. As with most Phantasm movies, the final half hour is packed with all the good stuff, and afterwards I turned the movie off satisfied completely. As far as modern day sequels to old horror movies go, you could do a lot worst than this earnest and ridiculous little movie. For my money's worth, it was a better Phantasm movie than Tremors 5 was a Tremors movie. A decent swan song for both the late and great Angus Scrimm and the franchise itself- but I do seriously hope they find a way to keep going. Especially with that self-indulgent cliffhanger tease.

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