Phantasm is one of my most beloved horror franchises. One so hugely creative and imaginative that it had struck a cord with me since the first time I had seen the original on television. Even if the sequels didn't do more than repeat themselves they were filled with these dependable epic and iconic moments you could count on. Unfortunately the final part in the franchise is a different beast and not in a good way.
And that is me being kind. It would be very easy for me to only focus on the bad elements of this film and believe me there are plenty. But then I would be doing injustice to the heart and soul put into the film. Especially when it comes to actors Reggie Bannister, A. Michael Baldwin and Angus Scrimm who together have made the franchise so popular. Their presence no matter how messy or warped mattered. They are the sole reason that this film remains watchable. However that being said I can't deny that I am disappointed and feel let down considerably. I was never waiting for a fifth part. For me the franchise had ran it's course and would gladly watch the older films over and over again. Although when news reached me that they were going to make a new part I was almost ecstatic. With currently technology and so many years that had passed the possibilities were endless. Maybe finally we would get to find out more about The Tall Man and his evil plans. And maybe just maybe elements would be added that would expand on the Phantasm universe and give us more and different things, so interesting and compelling, that a whole new franchise could be spun from it.
Alas, this is not the case. If anything, Ravager destroys and ruins a lot of the original mythology and will have you bored and outraged only after fifteen minutes or so. Most of the elements that used to provide the fun factor in the previous films have been stripped or removed entirely and all that is left is incoherence and confusion. Director David Hartman might be a huge fan of the franchise but his ideas is what stands in the way of the brilliance that once was. I love the majority of fan made movies since you can always tell that they have been made with a lot of love and passion. And since many fans share that passion we often are very willing to overlook the flaws and mistakes. But if I have one criticism towards fan made films then it's the fact that their creators often try to do too much and become too pretentious for their own good. Hang on why are you going on about fan made films Chrichton? Isn't this an official Don Coscarelli production? Yes, it is. Only you have to be aware that Phantasm: Ravager looks and feels like a fan made film with a slightly bigger budget than they usually do. Getting back to my point regarding phan David Hartman. Phantasm never was complicated or pretended to be more than it is. In fact the films were never afraid to poke fun at themselves or stating how ridiculous it was. Although it did manage to strike a nice balance between seriousness and cheese. Hartman however tries to be clever by making us doubt of the events in this film and that of previous ones. If there ever was a horror cliché you should stay clear from it's that one. Reggie goes back and forth universes or illusions so often that it hugely diminished the weight and severity of the issue. I stopped caring long before the film had ended. But even if you do and you figure out what is real and what is not it has very little to no impact on the events. There is no payoff for being invested. However worse is Hartman's mistreatment of iconic characters Reggie and The Tall Man. Granted Angus Scrimm died during or after production. So even if they were willing or wanting to they would not have been able to do more with the character. That doesn't negate the fact that The Tall Man is far from the terrifying and menacing monster he once was. Reggie wasn't your typical hero but events had forced him to step up the plate and he had been kicking ass ever since. But now? He has been reduced to playing a caricature of his character. But even in that condition Reggie manages to charm the audience. God bless Reggie Bannister for being such a good sport and professional.
Another thing that is painfully obvious is the special effects. It's never a good sign if a film of today looks worse than the original which was made in 1979. But it's not atrociously bad that it would hinder the viewing experience. Still it does beg the question why they made this film. It looks and feels like a very cheaply made film that doesn't add one original or interesting element into the mix. I don't know. If I were a conspiracy theorist I would say that this sorry excuse for a film is one big advertisement / promotion for the original Phantasm 4K version that will be coming out soon.
My advice: Stay clear from this film. You are better off watching the previous films in the franchise since they are all superior. It's not even suited as a proper send off to the late Angus Scrimm.