Phantasm V: Ravager (2016) [31 Days of Gore]

Yesterday I posted a terrible review of Phantasm IV. Usually when I hate a movie that bad, I refrain from posting about it at all, especially when all the people involved are so damn cool. It’s not that I don’t think artists anyone should be held above criticism, I just feel there are too many blogs and podcasts which poke fun at B-movies and not enough that genuinely celebrate them. Had I known how much I would dislike Phantasm IV, I never would have watched it, much less committed myself to reviewing the entire series for 31 Days of Gore. That doesn’t change the fact that it’s a terrible movie which drained all the hype I had for the latest installment.

Angus Scrimm’s final performance

Phantasm V, as it turns out, is ten times better than Phantasm IV, which isn’t saying much. To be sure, it’s nowhere near as good as anything in the original trilogy. The movie’s biggest mistake is it doesn’t ignore everything established in the fourth film. The Tall Man’s insulting origin as a human being is apparently still canon, which means I can no longer give a shit about the Tall Man.

There are saving graces. V is immediately more entertaining than its predecessor. When we first see Reggie, he’s stumbling through the desert in his war-torn ice cream uniform, lugging around his four-barrel shotgun. His hair has been dyed in an attempt to sustain continuity from the previous film, but I think at one point you can actually see the black wearing off on his collar. You’ll roll your eyes when he meets a banging redhead on the side of the road, believing you know exactly where this is going, but pleasantly enough, you may be surprised.

The following is no spoiler if you’ve seen the trailer: one moment Reggie is battling the forces of evil, then suddenly finds himself in a rest home where he’s assured his fantastical story about the Tall Man is the result of early onset dementia. I was praying the movie wouldn’t abandon the new story direction (the Tall Man said in the previous film, “Ice cream man, it’s all in his head”), as it would allow the series to retcon all the shit I dislike about it, but no such luck. Thankfully, in these scenes, the dye has been washed from Reggie’s hair and we get to see him the way we like to see him: imperfections and all.

In the last one we got unnecessary time travel. This time we get parallel universes. I appreciate the direction the filmmakers were going, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. Along the way, you’ll see a few familiar faces, far too much joyless CGI, bad digital cinematography, and terrible Airsoft weaponry. Ravager scares up some of the old fun, but it’s just not worth acknowledging Oblivion was canon.

R.I.P. Phantasm series. May you never get rebooted.

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