Movie review of “Phantasm” and “Phantasm: Ravager”: The Tall Man is back to terrorize hapless victims in a remastered version of the 1979 horror cult picture “Phantasm” (2.5 stars out of 4) and also in the far inferior sequel “Phantasm: Ravager” (1.5 stars).
That sepulchral cry, directed at a terrified teen, announced the arrival of a new horror icon back in 1979. The Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) — formidably gaunt and formally clad in black suit and tie; purposefully, slowly striding ever forward; unstoppable; comin’ to getcha! — was one hair-raising boogeyman.
He, and bizarre flying chromium-plated spheres, sprouting face-grabbing hooks and brain-piercing drills, turned filmmaker Don Coscarelli’s “Phantasm” into an instant cult hit. Spawned a slew of sequels, it did, including “Phantasm: Ravager,” which is being double-billed with the original at the Grand Illusion starting today, Oct. 7.
Movie Review ★★½
‘Phantasm: Remastered,’ with A. Michael Baldwin, Angus Scrimm, Bill Thornbury, Reggie Bannister. Written and directed by Don Coscarelli. 96 minutes. Rated R for violence, gore, sexual situations, nudity. Grand Illusion, through Thursday.
Movie Review ★½
‘Phantasm: Ravager,’ with Reggie Bannister, Angus Scrimm, A. Michael Baldwin, Bill Thornbury. Directed by David Hartman, from a screenplay by Hartman and Don Coscarelli. 97 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences (contains violence, gore). Grand Illusion, through Thursday.
Freshly refurbished with better sound and digitally sharpened visuals for this latest rerelease, “Phantasm” remains a pretty effective fright fest.
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The Tall Man, sole proprietor of a mortuary from hell, menaces a pair of brothers (A. Michael Baldwin and Bill Thornbury) and their ice-cream-truck-driving best buddy (Reggie Bannister) with nightmares and stabbings and stalkings — comin’ to getcha! — and those infernal whizzing spheres of death. See! Blood flooding forth in fountains!
He’s doing terrible things to the dead, dispatching them as shrunken slaves to another dimension.
The brothers, dim souls, keep escaping and then keep returning to the horror zone rather than running for their lives, or at least enlisting outside help. An Army division might do the trick. Just saying.
The acting is nothing special, like something out of a ’70s TV series, and the pacing is uneven. But Scrimm’s (great stage name) Tall Man remains a most effective frightener after all this time.
“Ravager,” which was one of Scrimm’s final pictures before his death earlier this year, brings back all the principals from the original. It’s a mishmash in which characters are thrown from dimension to dimension and from dream to dream. The main character, played by Bannister, is forever baffled as to what his actual reality is. His bafflement is shared by the viewer.