Combustible Celluloid
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With: Reggie Bannister, A. Michael Baldwin, Dawn Cody, Gloria Lynne Henry, Stephen Jutras, Kathy Lester, Bill Thornbury, Daniel Roebuck, Daniel Schweiger, Cean Okada, Angus Scrimm
Written by: Don Coscarelli, David Hartman
Directed by: David Hartman
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 85
Date: 10/07/2016

Phantasm: Ravager (2016)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Phinal Chapter

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

I'm not exactly what or who the "ravager" is in this movie, but I suspect it's the stalwart Reggie (Reggie Bannister), the one-time ice cream man, part-time musician, and full-time cool dude that has been a staple of all five Phantasm movies. He's like a balding, ponytailed Bruce Willis here, occasionally saying cool things while brandishing firearms, but mostly just trying to get through it all.

Phantasm: Ravager is apparently the final entry in this series that began with Phantasm (1979) and last left off in 1998. We find Reggie wandering the desert, and re-obtaining his beloved 1971 Plymouth 'Cuda (from an unwise thief), before things get weird.

He flashes back and forth between several realities. In one, he meets a beautiful woman, Dawn (Dawn Cody), and in another, the Tall Man (Angus Scrimm, who died in 2016 and whose final performance this is) tries to make a deal with him. In still another, he's in a hospital, apparently suffering from dementia, and none of this ever happened. And in another, he's in a post-apocalyptic future, having been hooked up to a machine that taps into his memories.

Reggie haplessly rolls from one reality to another, sometimes getting annoyed, and other times gearing up to fight. The movie more or less rolls along with him, always simply enjoying its own creation, never bothering to explain or unpack anything too deeply. The attitude is playful fun, with not-too-expensive but totally worthy visual effects as a finishing touch.

Series creator Don Coscarelli stepped back for this one, taking a co-writing and co-producing credit, and handing the reins to cartoon maker David Hartman (who has everything from Godzilla to Winnie-the-Pooh on his resume), and the changeover feels fine. Some fans will want to stick with the original classic only and ignore the rest, but those that have become invested in its loopy world will love this final chapter.

The movie received a theatrical release in 2016 and a Blu-ray release from Well Go USA. Hartman and Coscarelli provide a commentary track, and there are bloopers, deleted scenes, and a 5-minute behind-the-scenes featurette, plus trailers. A six-disc, five-movie box set is due in March of 2017.

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