Earlier this year, a teaser trailer for PHANTASM: RAVAGER dropped on the internet out of nowhere, almost like it came from nothing, out of a dimensional portal located in a mausoleum. The trailer featured faces familiar to PHANTASM fans, such as the woman in lavender, the heroic ice-cream man Reggie Bannister, the Hemi-‘Cuda, and, of course, Angus Scrimm as the evil Tall Man.
As cool as the trailer looked, what was even more interesting was that in this day and age of leaks, fan sites, and studios getting hacked, a new PHANTASM movie could go into production virtually unnoticed until a reel chock full of murderous dwarves and killer flying spheres was released over on silverspherechannel on You Tube. It was exciting to me, as it reminded of me when I was a kid pouring over issues of Fangoria, and how I’d get a sense of excitement whenever “The Elegy” section on the back page would announce that the next issue would feature a story on something like a new NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET or FRIDAY THE 13th.
The biggest news of all, though, is that fans were finally getting a new PHANTASM adventure, and just this week, a new Christmas-themed video hosted by creator Don Coscarelli and director of PHANTASM: RAVAGER, David Hartman that assures us that RAVAGER will be in the can in 2015 and teases us with a few more glimpses of the film.
PHANTASM was a low-budget, independent sci-fi horror film written, photographed, directed, edited and co-produced by Don Coscarelli for a budget of around $300,000. The cast and crew were mostly amateurs, friends and family of Coscarelli who worked on the film on nights and weekends over the course of a year. The film was well received upon its initial release and it developed a cult following due to its effective scares and dream-like atmosphere.
PHANTASM spawned three sequels in the coming years, the bigger budget PHANTASM II that expanded on the adventures of our heroes Mike and Reggie from the original film, as they hunted the Tall Man cross-country. The film introduced more of an action-adventure style tone that carried through to the direct to video PHANTASM III: LORD OF THE DEAD in 1993.
In 1998, PHANTASM: OBLIVION was released, a very low-budget affair that utilized deleted scenes from the previous films, as well as newly shot material to cobble together a story that’s convoluted even by PHANTASM standards. One of the things that I always loved about the series was that it wasn’t so much about plot as it was about tone and ideas. Coscarelli wrote all four of the previous installments, and you can tell that he’s just making it up as he goes along: He’s never lied and stated that he had the story of the Tall Man saga figured out from the beginning, like some other directors (i.e. George Lucas), although I’ve always suspected that Tall Man and Mike were somehow part of the same lineage.
Now we have this brand new look at PHANTASM: RAVAGER, and as a fan of the series I am very excited. The PHANTASM films have always been a family affair, and A. Michael Baldwin, Reggie Bannister, and Angus Scrimm are all back in the fold. RAVAGER seems to be taking on the tone of the unproduced PHANTASM: 1999 AD, an unproduced treatment written by Roger Avery in the 1990s. That treatment is said to have had a massive scale, and the new movie appears to feature big guns, big cars and a very big silver sphere. The money shot of the new trailer features a gigantic sphere leveling a building with a laser. Looks like Mike and Reggie better put in a call to Gamera for help this time around.