Yesterday, Don Coscarelli’s 1979 indie horror classic Phantasm made its video-on-demand debut in a brand new 4K remastered version. Even more exciting than that re-release, however, was the simultaneous premiere of Phantasm: Ravager, the fifth and presumably final installment in the long-running series. It’s the first Phantasm not directed by creator Coscarelli (who co-wrote the script, but handed the behind-the-camera reins to David Hartman), as well as the final big-screen performance of Angus Scrimm, aka “The Tall Man,” who passed away in January. For long-time fans, it was a titanic two-fer. But what if, during the 18 years since Phantasm IV: Oblivion, you’ve forgotten exactly what’s going on in the convoluted series? Or worse still, what if you’ve never even seen any of these films?!?
Don’t panic, Phantasm newbies — a new video (presented as an old-school educational reel for the classroom) is now online to get you up to speed. “Phantasm and You” provides a handy recap of the franchise’s ongoing (and admittedly bonkers) story, which in its basic outline revolves around three heroes (two brothers, and an ice cream man) tasked with stopping otherworldly undertaker The Tall Man from conquering the Earth — a plot he intends to fulfill with the aid of flying silver spheres (housing retractable deadly blades) and reanimated corpses that he’s squashed into little-people slaves with a power obtained from an evil alternate dimension. Although, as the above video confirms, that’s just the tip of the insane Phantasm iceberg.
While none of its previous sequels has yet come close to matching the unique, surreal power of its original chapter, hope remains that Phantasm: Ravager will provide a fitting end to the four-decade saga. You can bone up on your franchise lore with the above clip — including children’s-style drawings to represent Phantasm 2 — and check out both Phantasm: Remastered and Phantasm: Ravager on digital HD now, and in select theaters on Oct. 7.
‘Phantasm: Ravager’: Watch the trailer: