Posts Tagged ‘Phantasm II’

Phantasm: Ravager (2016)

October 28, 2016

I vividly remember when I saw Phantasm II. I used to hang out with a theater group called Mobtown Players (they still exist). On my birthday, they were going to take me to Bengies Drive-in Theater to see something but it was closed. As we have discussed, my birthday is in December when a lot of fun things are closed either for it being cold or because it is close to the holidays. As a plan B, we went to the now defunct Blockbuster Video and it was suggested we get Phantasm II. I was dubious because I had not heard of the franchise but I relented because I trusted my friends. So, I sat down with a bunch of people twice my age to watch a horror movie I had never heard of. I had also not seen the first movie and I still have not. I was thoroughly creeped out and spooked and thankful for a good birthday suggestion. In the tradition of watching these movies out of order, let us watch the last one now. (By ‘us’ I mean me and maybe you later after you have read this paragraph)

The series has a lot to do with funeral homes and dealing with the dead. The main villain is early on posing as a funeral director after all. Funeral homes scare the crap out of me. They represent real death to me instead of Halloween or Hollywood death. Real death is maddeningly scary. The final curtain and its reminders are something that nobody really wants to think about for long. Funeral homes are quiet and funeral home directors are suspect. I am sure that most of them are fine human beings but they deal with the dead all the time and I feel like I do not want to know them. Dead bodies are creepy too. The fact that we dress them up and put makeup on them is kind of weird when you think about it too much. I can deal with a funeral but a wake fills me with despair and fear though obviously, I can deal with it if I need to. It is that fear that we push through because we are there to honor our fallen loved ones and continue the mourning process. We deal with death because it is an inevitable end to every life. We fear it because it is easier than being sad about it, I guess.

The tone of the movie is set instantly in the very first scene of the movie. This is an action horror franchise. This movie is not about people getting stalked by the things that bump in the night but is instead about a war against the supernatural. For people who have not seen the other movies or people who have not seen them in a while, there is a brief recap Army of Darkness style. This is handy since I am kind of in both categories. The film is shot excellently and might just have the best cinematography of the month. At least, I really got excited about the lighting design in particular. The movie’s hero is Reggie who has been a main character since the first movie. That first movie was 37 years ago so Reggie (played by Reggie Bannister) has some years on him. He is an everyman hero and is less than smooth and more than personable. I instantly liked the guy again, kind of like every time I see Ash Williams or John McClane. His journey in this movie is not what I expected and deals a lot with what an aging hero might deal with and the problems associated with people of an older persuasion. Though, the series has had some dalliances with the “just a dream” trope before.

Of course, the main focus of the franchise has always been The Tall Man, the silver spheres and the Lurkers. The spheres are about 4 inches in diameter and look like polished stainless steel. They look harmless but quickly prove that they are anything but. I have had nightmares about those little silver spheres. The Lurkers are human beings compressed into vicious dwarf-like creatures. The main villain of the series is The Tall Man who is played by Angus Scrimm. Mr. Scrimm died this year after beingĀ in a lot of horror movies but The Tall Man was his most iconic role. He is grim looking and his lightly accented voice sounds like both death and evil. Scrimm is used excellently near the end of his life. The years had taken their toll and he looked even more like a weird corpse than ever before. This is his swan song and it shows in his performance, Reggie’s performance and the plot of the movie. We finally get a bit more of the mythos behind the weird dimensional powers that The Tall Man controls. We also get some interesting time travel motifs as well which fits with the general feel I remember.

Overall, this is a great finale for a horror franchise that has quietly plodded on since 1979. Horror movies have very particular fans and if the movie does not remain in theaters then the mainstream forgets it immediately. Loving horror (or any fandom) is kind of like living in an alternate dimension very close to the mainstream one. There are a lot of franchises that are a big deal but nobody you talk to on the street knows about them. You probably should not be talking to people on the street anyway. I recommend it but you should probably watch the first four movies to get the full effect.


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