37 years ago, Don Coscarelli unwittingly began a cult franchise with his guerilla style DIY supernatural film Phantasm. While the directorial reigns have been handed off to new director, but long-time series fan David Hartman, that guerilla style of filming still remains with this final entry. This low budget sequel concludes Reggie and company’s journey, and marks one final on screen appearance by the charismatic Angus Scrimm as the series iconic villain The Tall Man. It’s a bittersweet conclusion that is truly for die-hard fans of the series only.
After a very cute and clever recap of the series, the film picks up immediately where Phantasm IV: Oblivion left off, with Reggie alone and tattered in the desert. Still undeterred in his search for Mike, the film then confusingly thwarts Reggie from alternate reality to alternate reality. In one universe he’s in a psychiatric ward suffering from dementia, and in another he’s in a futuristic apocalypse that sees the world washed in red and The Tall Man’s minions reigning over the world. In every iteration, Reggie fervently searches for Mike. As Reggie bounces between these realities, he remains just as confused as the viewer. Hartman initially approached Coscarelli about shooting a Phantasm short film, which then became a string of short films shot over time, until finally Coscarelli talked Hartman into putting it all together and completing the full feature to give fans closure. Perhaps this was Coscarelli’s plan all along, but if not it would explain the hard to follow storyline.
While the film’s narrative is fairly muddled, it does check off every box that die-hard fans would want in a Phantasm film. The Lady in Lavender makes a few creepy appearances, as does Reggie’s trademark four-barrel shotgun, the Barracuda, and his ladies’ man charm. While Angus Scrimm’s appearances are limited, they’re the highlight of the film. Though appearances by Mike and Jody are expected and realized, Ravager also includes some surprising cameos (watch through the credits) to reward fans. The film also ends with the typical open ending that would allude to the possibility of more sequels, but considering the sad truth that Scrimm is no longer with us, the series should really end here. Though Reggie is often perceived at the heartbeat of the series, there really is no Phantasm without The Tall Man.
Unfortunately, this marks a sequel that’s overly reliant on CG, and the low budget shows. The cheap CG effects often take you out of the film, especially during segments that feature Reggie in the dystopian future. The red filtering over these scenes are more reminiscent of a cheap video game than a Phantasm film. Due to Angus Scrimm’s declining health, most of The Tall Man’s appearances in the film are CG renditions, as well.
For a film that’s not so well put together and includes a nearly incoherent plot, the film only works at all if you have an attachment to these characters. If you’ve never seen a Phantasm film, skip this one. If you’re only a mild fan, still skip this one. There are questions that remained unanswered, particularly questions from the previous installment, but those looking for emotional closure will find it here. It’s a bittersweet conclusion to a beloved franchise.
Rating: 5 silver spheres out of 5
About the Author
Meagan Navarro is a blogger from Houston, TX. She fell in love with monsters at age four after being exposed to them via Ghostbusters, and her passion grew into an obsession for all things horror and Halloween (which is the entire month of October, as far as she’s concerned). Meagan also loves traveling and chocolate. Follow me on twitter: @HauntedMeg