Thursday, October 6

Phantasm Ravager Deleted Scenes(?) End Credits Rundown

Figured I'd go through and post descriptions of all the clips that play under the end credits that aren't in the final film. There's a surprising amount and I have no idea why all this was omitted. Possible deleted scenes on the Blu-ray/DVD? Possible signs of a re-edit midway through production? Maybe one day a fan edit could be created to slice out the "Reggie Dilemma" and un-bullshit the film's events with these scenes (if ever released as a Blu-ray extra or something, that is). I've tried to list them in keeping with the film's order, but a few scenes don't match at all.  
  • Opening Desert Road Scene: A shot of the Cuda thief yelling the "Get outta the road, asshole!" line out of the window.
  • Opening Desert Road Scene: The Cuda driving over and crushing a disabled sphere.
  • Dawn Death Scene: Reggie quickly grabbing a switchblade off a dresser and tensing up against a door after the sphere unlatches from her head.
  • Dawn Death Scene: Straight-on angle of Reggie crashing through a window while escaping (a side angle of this can be seen in the trailer).
  • Wooded Path Scene: Two spheres come up on both sides of Reggie's head and protrude their spikes, his eyes nervously dart between both.
  • Wooded Path Scene: Reggie being "beaten up" by spheres striking his chest, knee, and head. He drops his pistol in the process.
  • Wooded Path Scene(?): Reggie using his quad barrel to blast an approaching sphere.
  • Mausoleum Scene: The Lady in Lavender rising up after being shot by Reggie screaming as her eyes become demonic.
  • Mausoleum Scene: Shot of the Tall Man standing amongst the tombs (might be a composite made for the credits sequence).
  • "Cave" Scene: Reggie lying on the ground then suddenly slicing an attacking dwarves' chest open with his sword.
  • "Future" Hospital Scene(?): Three shots of Coscarelli and Hartman dressed as resistance fighters battling dwarves (also seen in the street scene in the film), an unknown man appears in one shot fighting along with them. Eventually the dwarves get the best of them.
  • Red Planet Scene(?): Reggie cowering trying to cover his face while a giant vortex swirls behind him.
  • Red Planet Scene(?): The Tall Man raising his arm to point and say something with the right half of his face ripped off.
  • Outside "Future" Hospital Scene(?): Quick shot of Mike firing his pistol directly at the camera.
  • Outside "Future" Hospital Scene: Two shots of the same scene where Mike and Reggie fire upon and slice up dwarves and gravers.
  • (Scene Unknown): Shot of a sphere blasting out through the face of an unknown man.
  • (Scene Unknown): Quick shot of Reggie firing his pistol.
  • *(Scene Unknown): Two unknown heavily dressed men in a snow-laden forest fire and strike a giant sphere in the sky with a rocket launcher.
  • *(Scene Unknown): Jet fighter "threading the needle" between two giant spheres just as they crash into each other.
  • *(Scene Unknown): Giant sphere crash landing and destroying a building as it rolls toward the camera.
  • *(Scene Unknown):Giant sphere blowing up a car with a laser, seen from the dash of the Cuda as it speeds toward the crash.
  • (Scene Unknown): Shot of the Cuda taking a turn on a road with a giant sphere hovering in the clouds (not the one seen at the end).
*Assuming the unused giant sphere stuff might be more flashbacks intended to show the Tall Man's takeover of mankind. 

Wednesday, October 5

Phantasm Ravager (2016), The Biggest "F*ck You" in Horror History?

*SPOILER WARNING, don't think I'll be able to talk about the film without spoiling key points, beware.

Flat out, the fifth and presumably final entry in Don Coscarelli's epic Phantasm series is an awful film and even worse sequel. The franchise has etched out its own special place and has maintained a dependable consistency over the decades. Incredible when considering the long waits between sequels filled with years of false starts and speculation. While other genre icons have branched into more mainstream crowds, even Ash, the apocalyptic yarn of Mike (A. Michael Baldwin), Reggie (Reggie Bannister), and Jody (Bill Thornbury) has always stuck to close to familiar waters of its extremely loyal fanbase forged from late night airings and rentals. This makes it especially hard to see what Coscarelli, and director/co-writer David Hartman, have decided to make of this last stand against the Tall Man (Angus Scrimm).

Getting the obvious out of the way, this is an extremely cheap production, shot here-and-there over several years, and shortcomings are constantly apparent. There's a heavy reliance on computer generated effects; everything from spheres taking flight, splattery gunshots, the creation of the (still) mysterious red planet, and even superimposing Scrimm's face on his Tall Man character at times. None of this is any real issue as it's been a minor miracle the series, with successively much lower budgets, has clawed to four sequels over three decades. Hell, the very existence of Phantasm II (1988) alone will forever defy all kinds of conventional film business logic. Although it probably would have been a good idea to launch a phantasmic crowdfunding effort a few years ago. I mean, if Tom Savini and Dario Argento can promise the world and not deliver a single frame, then why not?

"Fuck everything, man..."
What practically breaks this sequel's balls, and the entire series (if you let it), is how Coscarelli and Hartman allow an interesting concept to nullify everything that is Phantasm. It turns out, nearly forty years and five films can be chalked up to grand tall tales told to Mike by a now elderly Reggie in hospice suffering from dementia. That's right, all of the events in 1979 and eternal struggle since end up as bullshit since none of it ever happened. Thanks again phans for waiting all this time!

Watching in despair are Mike and Jody, who apparently still died in a car accident but appears alive in "reality" later on, powerless as their longtime friend mentally slips away. The various sequences of Reggie continuing the fight against the Tall Man are all just increasingly warped delusions colored by the worry of his circumstances. Early on Mike brings up the "possibility" of other planes of existence, but it's obvious that's not at play here. This might be the most insane case of sacrificing an entire premise for a silly concept film in all of genre history. Why?!?

Honestly, Ravager's wanton destruction of the series makes it tough to view anything in a positive light this time around. Suddenly learning the Phantasm universe was an excuse for a Lifetime Channel melodrama can do that. Still, if one completely disregards that aspect, the story tries to satisfy fans with an albeit rushed depiction of a world finally under the Tall Man's total dominion. Fun sequences for sure, but again, now rendered meaningless.

Everyone seems game here, especially Scrimm, who conveys more things of importance than the usual terse Tall Man one-liners. Series vet Christopher L. Stone's often lively score is excellent and helps hold together what usually feels like a patchwork of strung together scenes. Despite being hardly utilized, it's also nice to see Kathy Lester and Gloria Lynne Henry reprise roles. Curious also is what appears to be quite a few deleted scenes playing under the end credits. Many of which featuring special effects, even one that looks like the Tall Man with half his face ripped off. I can't help but wonder whether plans changed during this sequel's long production and the film took a detour into the heap before us today.

It's easy to imagine some longtime fans concocting half-assed explanations to make the "Reggie Dilemma" not totally negate the established mythos. However, it's impossible for me to get beyond everything literally being all for not. What's the point when three principal characters aren't who've they've always been across four previous films? They're suddenly just ordinary people whom we never actually knew. For all we know Reggie could have been a used car salesman, Mike a professor, and Jody a mechanic. So who cares what happens to them after it's revealed to be a grandiose lie. Ultimately, Phantasm Ravager just feels like some snide attempt by Coscarelli to take back his creation that's long rested under the care of a legion of fans. Something like "Oh, you think Phantasm has depth? Okay well suck on this twist." Not clever, nor interesting, just a tarnish on the silver sphere.
. you dare tread upon the staircase?

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