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From the B-Movie Vault: Phantasm: Ravager and John Dies at the End

April 11, 2022 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Phantasm: Ravager Image Credit: Well Go USA

From the B-Movie Vault Issue #3: Phantasm: Ravager and John Dies at the End

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the latest From the B-Movie Vault. I’m Bryan Kristopowitz.

Since there’s presently no Phantasm 6 I wasn’t sure what I would pair with my review of the fifth movie in the Phantasm franchise, Phantasm: Ravager, but then I remembered that I reviewed John Dies at the End, the weird beard horror comedy thing that Don Coscarelli directed way back in 2012, and then I had my answer. It’s insane to me that, as I write this, John Dies at the End is the last thing Coscarelli directed, and that was about a decade ago. That’s way too long a gap for me. What the heck has big Don been up to the last ten years? Are we ever going to get that Bubba Ho-tep sequel/prequel/whatever thing? Does Coscarelli have anything else that he wants to make? Just what the heck is going on here, man?
Anyway, here are the links to the first two issues of From the B-Movie Vault where I reviewed the first four movies in the Phantasm franchise, just in case you missed them or want to read them again for some reason:

From the B-Movie Vault: Phantasm and Phantasm II

From the B-Movie Vault: Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead and Phantasm IV: Oblivion

I also included a Big Question about whether or not the Phantasm franchise is over/should be over and what I would like to see going forward with it. That originally ran with the Phantasm: Ravager review.

And now, without any further what have you, the next two From the B-Movie Vault reviews: Phantasm: Ravager and John Dies at the End. Enjoy.


The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #403: Phantasm: Ravager

The Phantasm Marathon: Week 5

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that isn’t entirely sure there are other dimensions out there but wouldn’t be all that surprised if there were, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number four hundred and three, the Phantasm Marathon concludes with the fifth and presumably final Phantasm movie Phantasm: Ravager, which finally appeared at the very end of 2016 via a small theatrical release and a wide Video On Demand release.

Phantasm: Ravager

Image Credit: Koch Media

Phantasm: Ravager was this writer’s most anticipated movie in both 2015 and 2016. As a full on and complete Phantasm nerd I couldn’t wait to see the movie that was essentially made in secret over several years by director and co-writer David Hartman and producer/co-writer/franchise creator Don Coscarelli. It didn’t play anywhere near me during its very brief theatrical run (it played with Phantasm: Remastered in some locations, as I remember it) and I didn’t check it out on Video On Demand. I decided to wait for the movie’s eventual home video release, which came in December of 2016, and then waited even longer to see it so I could watch it with the other Phantasm movies as part of this month long marathon. And now that I’ve finally seen Phantasm: Ravager, I can say that it was well worth the wait. Because Phantasm: Ravager is goddamn awesome.

Really? Goddamn awesome? Yes. Phantasm: Ravager is goddamn awesome. Is it the way I expected the franchise to end? No, not really, but then I didn’t expect it to end with the way Oblivion ended, either. Ravager is an insane $100 million movie made for less than a million. It’s a badass sci-fi horror flick, like most of the other Phantasm movies, and it makes the most of its resources. It’s chock full of ideas and great performances, including maybe the best performance of Reggie Bannister’s career. It also ends with the promise that, yes, the movie may be over, but the story, the Phantasm story, is never over. The Tall Man was right, man.

Ravager begins with Reggie (Reggie Bannister) walking alone in the desert. He’s wearing the ice cream man outfit we saw him in at the end of Oblivion, but he’s also covered in dirt and blood and whatnot. He’s back from whatever battle he engaged in after going through the space gate, exhausted and worried that he may not actually be in the world he left at the end of Oblivion. There are other dimensions out there and there’s a chance that Reggie has landed in a weird one. After a quick montage of the franchise up until this point and an epic opening titles sequence, Reggie complains about not being able to find the HemiCuda. He hid it, but someone took it. Who? Reggie walks around, scoping out a dilapidated structure behind a fence on the side of the road. It’s here Reggie finds a nifty duffle bag he can use to carry around his four barrel shotgun and where we see, briefly, a man being murdered by a flying sphere.

Suddenly, Reggie’s Cuda shows up with some dumbass behind the wheel (Daniel Schweiger). Reggie manages to get the dumbass to stop and let him into the car. Reggie then pulls a gun on the guy and steals his car back fair and square (Reggie also steals the dumbass’s clothes, which are Reggie’s clothes. Did the dumbass guy find them in the trunk of the Cuda?). Reggie drives off somewhat triumphantly, only to then be pursued by two flying spheres (the spheres make short work of the car thief, drilling into the back of his head and leaving him dead, in his underwear, in the middle of the road. Serves him right, man, stealing Reggie’s car and clothes like that). It’s an epic chase scene, with Reggie eventually getting the better of the spheres (Reggie traps one of them in the glove box of the Cuda and then shoots the sphere dead).

The scene then shifts, abruptly, to an old folk’s home somewhere and Reggie, looking old and tired, in a wheelchair. Mike (A. Michael Baldwin) is there and pushing Reggie around, telling him that he was found wandering in the desert, babbling about the Tall Man and the war that’s been waged since the first Phantasm movie. Reggie learns from Mike that he has dementia and that Mike has to try to engage Reggie’s mind in order to slow down Reggie’s mental and physical deterioration. It’s really the least Mike could do, since Reggie is the one who looked after Mike when his brother Jody died. Reggie doesn’t believe any of this and suspects that it’s all part of the Tall Man’s grand scheme. Mike asks Reggie to calm down and to continue telling his Tall Man tale. It may not be true, but it will keep Reggie’s mind engaged.

So Reggie goes back to telling his story, and we see him pick up a hot babe named Dawn (Dawn Cody) from the side of the road. Dawn’s truck has broken down and she needs a ride back to her farm. Reggie agrees to give Dawn a ride, and Reggie, as Reggie tends to do, believes that he’s going to get laid. Dawn allows Reggie to hang around her farm for the night as payback for the ride. Reggie tries to put the moves on her, even tells her that he’s going to write a song about her (it’s a song that all phans will recognize), but Dawn rebuffs him. Reggie falls asleep and then proceeds to have one of the nastiest nightmares in the history of the franchise.

And how nasty is it? The dream consists of Reggie in an old age hospital from the 1800’s (well, I assume it’s from the 1800’s. This hospital doesn’t look like the one Reggie is in while interacting with Mike. It looks much, much worse). He’s in a room with an old man named Jebediah who is clearly the Tall Man. Jebediah engages in some chitchat type stuff, then lets the cat out of the bag and tells Reggie that he is, in fact, the Tall Man and that he will never be safe (the Lady in Lavender, Kathy Lester, also shows up briefly under the Tall Man’s bed).

Reggie wakes up, attempts to interact with Dawn, and then finds out that the spheres have found him. The spheres kill Dawn and then go after Reggie. Reggie fights back (the Cuda has tons of weaponry in its trunk, including a goddamn sword) and ends up in the barn, where he meets Dawn’s Bulgarian farmhand Demeter (the great Daniel Roebuck) and watches one of the spheres kill a horse. Demeter doesn’t last much longer, and Reggie finds himself on the run. After briefly venturing back to Mike and the old folks home and talk of multiple dimensions and “membrane theory,” Reggie finds himself being attacked by a gigantic sphere. The sphere convinces Reggie to walk through a just popped up space gate.

It’s at this point that Reggie appears in a vast white void where the Tall Man apparently hangs around when he isn’t doing Tall Man stuff somewhere else. Reggie interacts with the Tall Man, and the Tall Man offers Reggie a chance to see his dead wife and child again if he would just stop fighting. Reggie would much rather have his friends Mike and Jody back, but the Tall Man refuses to give them up (they’re a part of the big Tall Man plan). Reggie then finds himself inside the old mausoleum from Lord of the Dead and interacting with a terrifying Lady in Lavender. After dispatching the Lady and then going into a cave to fight some hooded demon creatures, the Tall Man appears again and asks Reggie if he wants his wife and child back. Reggie, again, refuses, and the Tall Man lets out that Reggie’s wishes are unacceptable and that Reggie “isn’t even real” (the Tall Man actually calls Reggie his personal nightmare).

Personal nightmare? Not even real? What the hell is going on here?

The rest of the movie is a tour de force of weirdness as the narrative focus shifts between Reggie in the home and an insane flashback to what apparently happened right after he went through the space gate at the end of Oblivion. In short, Reggie went to a dystopian dimension where the Tall Man has completely conquered Earth and where Earth is now, essentially, the same as the Tall Man’s red planet home dimension. There’s wreckage and destruction everywhere, not to mention an army of hooded demon creatures running rampant. Reggie is rescued by a band of freedom fighters, people who somehow didn’t get caught up in the Tall Man’s worldwide campaign of Tall Man stuff (we find out via a later montage exactly what the Tall Man did to Earth. That giant sphere that went after Reggie in the woods? There are even bigger spheres and goddamn jet fighters are no match for them. Jet fighters!). Jane (Dawn Cody, doing double duty) is a fighter, as is Chunk (Stephen Jutras), a badass little person you don’t want to mess with. Mike is there, too, decked out in a gas mask and machine gun.

As the freedom fighters take on the Tall Man and his army, back in the home Reggie’s mind is clearly leaving him. The events in the freedom fighting world are bleeding into the home world and no one, especially Reggie, can tell what is real and what isn’t. Is it a good idea to give a man with dementia a four barrel shotgun to shoot at gravers who may not actually be there? And just how much time does Reggie have left before he’s gone?

The stuff in the Tall Man’s new Earth is great (modern mega low budget movie making at its finest). Is it as slick as a Marvel movie? No, it isn’t, but I would argue that it’s just as exciting as any The Avengers movie. There’s so much happening, so much action, so much weird stuff, it’s a sequence that demands multiple viewings just to catch it all. If you’re not a fan of the Phantasm franchise or low budget movie making you probably won’t dig it as much as someone who is, but if you are a nerd? This is what you live for. I know it’s what I live for.

The stuff in the home, where we see Reggie’s final moments, are somber, kind of depressing, peaceful, and confusing. Why is it confusing? Someone is in the room with Reggie and Mike who, you’d think, wouldn’t be there. I mean, he’s supposed to be dead. How could that happen? Is it a final example of the two dimensions bleeding into one another? I’ll admit to tearing up a bit when Reggie finally goes. You never want to see a movie hero go down.

So what’s the real ending? How does the Tall Man’s “you’re not even real” remark to Reggie fit into the ending? And if there are multiple dimensions, potentially thousands of them (or maybe even millions of them. Look at how many Tall Man there are in that white void), how many Reggies are there? How many Mikes? Is the battle we see at the end of the movie happening, to some extent, in all of them? If Reggie is the Tall Man’s nightmare, does each dimension have Reggie in it, or is the nightmare different in each dimension?

What do I think the ending suggests? At the moment, I know that the Reggie we saw in the home is dead. That Reggie died due to complications from dementia. But the Reggie we see in the end credits, the one continuing the fight against the Tall Man? That Reggie is still alive and still out there. And, because I want the Phantasm story to continue on, I want to believe that that Reggie is the “real” one, and that if there were going to be more Phantasm movies that’s the Reggie we would see. But is that the real real real Reggie? I’ll have to think about that.

The end credits are amazing. Fun, too, especially when you realize that Don Coscarelli is in them, fighting alongside Mike and Reggie. Is director Hartman in there, too, somewhere? I think he is.

Image Credit: Well Go USA

As I said, Bannister gives maybe the best performance of his career as the older Reggie. He’s obviously a little slower than in the previous movies, but he can still kick ass when he has to and he still has the necessary instincts to survive while battling the Tall Man. The scenes where Reggie is battling dementia in the home are heartbreaking to see because, man, you never want to see your hero go through that kind of thing. He doesn’t know what the hell is going on around him, and no one believes a word he says because his mind is going. Bannister makes you experience Reggie’s internal pain as he tries to figure out, the best he can, what’s really going on. Bannister clearly gave his all here, and he deserves some sort of award for it. How many actors play, with perfection, at least three versions of the same character in one movie? Exactly. Amazing job.

Baldwin, back in supporting character mode, shows his range as Mike. We get to see him as the sympathetic older Mike who clearly didn’t battle the Tall Man, the older Mike who did battle the Tall Man but has a hard time admitting that it happened, the Mike we saw in Oblivion (we see this briefly), and the badass freedom fighter Mike, and it’s all great. The Mike who didn’t battle the Tall Man is the one that people who have had to take care of family members or friends battling dementia will relate to the most. This Mike is a gentle soul trying to repay his old friend for everything he did for him. Every time this Mike interacts with Reggie, you see how much Reggie’s disease is killing him, too. He doesn’t want to see his old friend disappear like this. Life sucks and is incredibly unfair, man. And the freedom fighter Mike is a perfect example of how, had he been allowed to participate in Phantasm II, he probably would have kicked just as much ass as James LeGros did. A. Michael Baldwin really could have done it. Great stuff.

Dawn Cody ends up playing two different characters and does a decent job despite not having much to do in either one. Her Jane character has more to do, and is definitely the one that deserves an action figure of some sort. Dawn is just a nice lady who gets caught up in some weird stuff. Considering what happens to her in both realties, it makes you wonder if Dawn and Jane are even real.

Stephan Jutras is the “holy crap” standout of the movie. As badass little person Chunk, he’s in the last third of the movie and makes you wish he was in the whole thing. He kicks ass, he has no fear, and he has no problem running right at the Tall Man and taking his ass out. Could there be a Chunk spin-off in the near future? There should be, that’s for damn certain.

Bill Thornbury, Jody, is barely in the movie at all. He shows up at the end and saves the day driving a weaponized version of the HemiCuda. He has a nice little interaction with Mike and Reggie and briefly shows up in Reggie’s room in the home, a weird scene considering he’s supposed to be dead. Again, Thornbury isn’t in the movie all that long but he does do a good job nonetheless. Kathy Lester, the Lady in Lavender, shows up twice and manages to create a true sense of dread each time. Be prepared for two big jump scares involving her. And how cool is it that she’s still alluring as hell over thirty years later?

Gloria Lynne Henry, Rocky, shows up briefly in the end credits and is still cool and kicking ass. What the heck has she been up to, specifically, since the end of Lord of the Dead? Man, the world needs a spin-off with Rocky in it, just so we can find out what’s been going on with her.

And, finally, Angus Scrimm, in his final performance, still scares the crap out of everyone as the Tall Man. His hair isn’t as long as it used to be, but he still has that look in his eyes that will make you question why anyone would try to take up arms against him. Sure, you can try to blow him up, but he’s a master of time and space and has access to gigantic flying silver balls. How are you going to fight against that, really? Scrimm’s scene in the bed, where he tells Reggie that he’s always watching, is heartbreaking when you realize that this was the final scene Scrimm filmed. He still has it, though, even in a seriously compromised situation. The man was a great actor, and Ravager is another example of what Scrimm could bring to the screen in terms of menace and fear. Amazing, amazing stuff.

Phantasm: Ravager is a great way to end the franchise. It’s a small movie but it has an epic scope and director David Hartman makes the most of what meager money he has and kicks ass. It makes you want more, even if it is the end. Because, man, what else could Hartman and Coscarelli do? Ravager is a movie that you should absolutely see, especially if you’re a phan/franchise nerd. I loved it.

See Phantasm: Ravager. See it, see it, goddamn see it!

Image Credit: Well Go USA

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: 4

Undead bodies: If it’s less than thirty I’d be shocked. And there are all sorts of demon creatures in here, too. So maybe the number is in the hundreds? Thousands? Millions?

Explosions: Several, both big and small. Most of them appear to be CGI but they still rock.

Nudity?: None, which is weird for a Phantasm movie.

Doobage: Walking alone in the desert, a montage of the previous Phantasm movies, an epic opening titles sequence, a white teddy bear, a cool duffel bag, off screen killing, ride buying, carjacking, double flying sphere attack, flying sphere to the back of the head, an awesome car/flying sphere chase, flying sphere capturing, shooting at a flying sphere while driving backwards, a hot red head, a broken down truck, off screen storytelling, attempted move making, multiple flashbacks and flash forwards to various dimensions and times and whatnot, flying sphere to the head with major head trauma, a car trunk full of guns, horse attack, attempted baseball, flying sphere to the throat, major bloodletting, walking in the woods, a gigantic flying sphere, a terrifying white room, a hooded demon creature, bullet to the head, super shooting at a hooded demon creature, the red planet, a little person badass, a seriously burned up dead body, a red flying sphere with spikes in it, exploding head, a direct flashback to Oblivion, dirty stitches, a giant flying sphere levels a building, a cool montage of the end of the world, an army of gravers, RPG hooey, neck breaking, little person knife attack, suicide by grenade, a HemiCuda with machine guns on it, a sad death, space gate hooey, boob touching, wound fixing, and the truth (it’s never really over).

Kim Richards?: None.

Gratuitous: Reggie Bannister, Reggie Bannister still wearing his ice cream man outfit from the end of Oblivion, off screen car stealing, a cool as hell car/flying sphere chase, Reggie Bannister in an old folks home, Angus Scrimm as Jebediah Morningside, a very dead horse, Daniel Roebuck as a Bulgarian farmhand, A. Michael Baldwin talking about “membrane theory,” a scary white room, Reggie Bannister using an Uzi, a badass little person freedom fighter, a montage of the end of the world, the battle Cuda, Gloria Lynne Henry, and the truth (that it’s never really over) and Don Coscarelli fighting during the end credits.

Best lines: “Man, sure could use a rocket pop right about now,” “Nice jacket. Nice car. You don’t see many ’71 Cudas around anymore,” “Get the fuck out of my car!,” “Thanks a lot, asshole,” “Where the hell am I?,” “Hi, I’m Reggie. I’m Dawn. See, we’re not strangers anymore,” “Fuck, what did she say her name was?,” “I didn’t notice you there. Do I know you?,” “You’ll never be safe. I’m always watching you,” “Dude, bad news about your horse,” “Would you shut the fuck up, please?,” “Wake up, man!,” “I don’t know, Mike, I don’t want to die here,” “Our paths cross again,” “Great,” “Have you considered my offer? Yes. Go back to hell. Mine or yours?,” “Your playthings don’t work here,” “You’re not even real. You’re my bad dream,” “What are you looking at, baldy? Not quite sure,” “I don’t know what’s real anymore. Just suck it up and deal with it,” “Hold still, grandpa,” “I hate these little motherfuckers!,” “Man, it feels really good to be back home again,” “Fire in the motherfucking hole!,” “You know this is a trap. Well, I, uh, we’ve got him right where he wants us,” “Booooyyyy!,” “My need for you is not finished,” “Hey, Tiny, where the fuck do you think you’re going?” “Good to have you back, Reg,” “Jody? How’s it hanging, Reg? A little to the left, I guess,” “Where is he? Nobody made it,” “Rocky, thanks for waiting around for me,” ‘Oh, come on, Rock, don’t be like that. It’s just one hand!,” and “For the love of God, baldy, move over!”

Rating: 10.0/10.0


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Image Credit: Well Go USA

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The Big Question: So, is the Phantasm franchise really over?

Image Credit: Well Go USA

Well, I guess it depends on what “over” means. I mean, for the moment, I would say that, yes, the Phantasm franchise, as we understand it, is over. Ravager has been advertised as the last one, Coscarelli and Hartman and others have said that Ravager is the last one, and with Angus Scrimm gone, it would be hard to have a Phantasm movie without the Tall Man. Unless there’s footage that Hartman and Coscarelli filmed in anticipation of Scrimm not being around for a potential sixth movie, which is a possibility. I haven’t listened to the commentary track on the Ravager DVD so I don’t know if Hartman and Coscarelli address this at all. I’d imagine that, if Ravager makes tons of money that Well Go USA, the people behind the franchise boxed set release, would want another one, and I’m sure, with the right deal, Coscarelli would try to come up with something.

Could there be an animated sequel? That could work. The Tall Man’s voice would have to be duplicated somehow, but it could work. And, heck, the franchise could do whatever it wants as a cartoon. As long as it can be drawn/rendered, the sky is the limit, right?

I do think that a reboot/remake is likely to happen at some point. Coscarelli has said that he would love to have someone reboot the franchise/remake it, just as long as he can be actively involved in the process of making it. We could see a TV show version of the franchise, since cable and streaming outfits are always on the lookout for new content. Or we could see an actual biggish budget theatrical reboot. That could happen.

And there are always new phans to make. People will continue to discover the franchise and, so, in that sense, the franchise and the story will continue on. The cast will continue to show up at various screenings and conventions and whatnot. Phantasm will always be there.

What do you guys think? Is the franchise really over? Do you want it to be over?

I can’t wait to watch Ravager again. I can’t wait to watch the entire franchise again, back-to-back. I’m sure there’s stuff that I missed.

Man, that’s what the franchise is all about, isn’t it? Discovering new things with each viewing?


The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #261: John Dies at the End (2012)

Writer’s Note: I wrote this review several years before Phantasm: Ravager came out, so that’s why I mention my hope of Coscarelli directing a fifth Phantasm movie towards the end of the review. Just wanted to point that out so you know the timeframe of the two reviews.

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that isn’t all that concerned with the idea that, one day, cupcakes may try to take over the world, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number two hundred and sixty-one, I take a look at the weird beard horror comedy type movie from 2012, John Dies at the End, directed by the legendary Don Coscarelli.

John Dies at the End (2012)

Image Credit: Magnolia Home Entertainment

John Dies at the End, based on a novel by David Wong, is one of the strangest movies I’ve ever seen. I’m not sure if I completely understand it (I think I’m going to have to watch the movie at least two more times to pick up on everything I know I missed), but it’s still an entertaining B-movie. You’re never bored, even when you’re confused about what the heck is going on. Coscarelli, an old hand at the surreal, weird beard sci-fi horror B-movie, knows what he’s doing every second, even when it looks like he doesn’t. He’s one of the few directors working today I would trust with this kind of story.

Now, as far as I can tell, the movie is about a slacker/stoner guy named Dave (Chase Williamson) who, while working as a kind of exorcist/demon hunter type guy, comes across a weird beard drug called “soy sauce” that gives its user psychic powers. These psychic powers are not a good thing, as they lead to, for the lack of a better phrase, a lack of understanding of the world. The user’s perceptions of the world become altered, and what seems to be real isn’t. There’s also some stuff in there about alternate dimensions, aliens, and monsters that, at least at the moment, don’t make much sense to me. The movie is, at first, told as a series of flashbacks, as Dave sits in a restaurant with Arnie Blondestone (Paul Giamatti), a newspaper reporter who is looking for a major story to help his career. The “soy sauce” story could be that major story, if it’s true (Arnie isn’t all that convinced, until he takes a look in Dave’s car trunk). The movie eventually shifts into a kind of straight forward narrative as Dave and his buddy and fellow exorcist John (Rob Mayes) try to save the world from really, really, really bad stuff.

The first quarter of the movie is devoted to several flashbacks that don’t seem to have anything to do with anything. We see Dave kill a man who keeps coming back, Dave and John try to help a girl who ends up turning into a bunch of snakes and a frozen meat monster, and a strange man named Marconi (the Kurrgan hisself Clancy Brown) on TV in the background selling his weird beard psychic services. These flashbacks do eventually fit into the story being told, but you have to pay attention to everything going on in order to understand how they all fit in. That’s what I had to do, anyway.

The movie’s special effects are surprisingly good, especially considering that the movie was probably made for, at best, a few million dollars. There’s extensive CGI effects from beginning to end, plus some deliberately cheesy but deadly looking practical physical effects (there are plenty of gross looking bugs, not to mention that sucker leech thing with all of the teeth. That thing is still giving me nightmares). The effects do get a little “hokey” towards the end, but they fit in with what Coscarelli is trying to do in terms of what Dave and John are dealing with. Hopefully, if and when Coscarelli gets to make a fifth Phantasm he’ll have the same kind of money at his disposal.

Image Credit: Magnet Releasing

The cast is uniformly excellent. Williamson does a great job as Dave. You’re not quite sure you can trust anything he’s saying right when you first meet him, but as the movie progresses you become more and more interested in him. What if he is telling the truth? Rob Mayes, the “John” of the title, is great as John. He’s hard to like, too, at the beginning, but you warm up to him immediately when you find out that he isn’t as dead as originally thought. Giamatti, who doesn’t do much beyond hang out in the restaurant and listen to Dave, is funny when he isn’t trying to play the straight man to Dave’s weird story. The tight shirt Giamatti wears throughout the movie is a little disturbing (was it his idea to wear a shirt like that, or was it all Coscarelli? Giamatti is a producer on the movie, so he might have demanded it).

Clancy Brown isn’t in the movie all that much, but what we get to see from him is, as usual, great. He plays Marconi with a fake Russian accent that is absolutely hilarious. I’d like to know how Marconi became rich, and when he found out he was a “psychic.” And the two women that are always with him, how did that happen? Glynn Turman puts in a strange performance as the police detective that eventually, sort of, figures out what the heck is going on (the man sure can wield a handgun). And Jonny Weston is bound for cult B-movie T-shirt posterity as Justin White, the hip-hop white kid (I’m shocked there isn’t a T-shirt already). (And, as far as I know, there still isn’t one, which makes no sense to me at all).

Tai Bennett is weird as Robert Marley, the sad Jamaican guy that ends up becoming way more important than originally thought. And Jimmy Wong is funny as Fred Chu (it is so wrong what happens to him). And Fabianne Therese is cute as Amy, the girl with the phantom limb pains (you will be amazed at what she ends up having to do. I didn’t see it coming).

Daniel Roebuck, who last worked with Coscarelli on Bubba Ho-tep, is unrecognizable as Largeman. You have to really look at the Largeman character to see Roebuck is playing him. And the Tall Man hisself, Angus Scrimm, shows up as a priest with a strange message for Dave. Father Shellnut is a bit part, a glorified cameo, but it’s still thrilling to see Angus Scrimm in full on “evil guy” mode. And be on the lookout for the great Doug Jones, who shows up as an incredibly weird thin guy. I didn’t recognize him.

It’s a strange flick, sure, but John Dies at the End is worth experiencing at least once (or several times, if you plan on ever understanding what the heck it’s really about). There’s sequel potential (I believe a sequel novel was written), although I’m not sure if I want to get that strange again, at least not right now. Maybe in another five years. Six tops. (I’m currently ready to get weird again, but it doesn’t look like Coscarelli or anyone else is doing a sequel of any kind).

See John Dies at the End. See it, see it, see it. If you do, maybe Coscarelli will finally get a chance to do that fifth Phantasm movie, or that sequel to Bubba Ho-tep about the she-vampires.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: 5+

Explosions: Several

Nudity?: Yes, but it isn’t all that thrilling.

Doobage: Multiple beheadings, giant bug killing, loading up a truck with weapons, a weird basement, a freezer full of meat, snakes, a door handle that turns into a giant penis, a demon made of frozen meat, a massive meat explosion, a very tight shirt, a beer keg, a girl with a rubber hand, bug behind the ear, talk of a weird dream, barfing, a freak out, a disheveled apartment, a giant spider, a Catholic school medal, a bug down the shirt, car lighter through the shirt, a very gross bug with a round mouth full of teeth, bug stomping, a caged bug, several weird phone calls, a ripped off mustache that flies around like a butterfly, violent arm removal, bratwurst that’s used as a phone, a trailer park, a frozen coffee can, several weird hallucinations, a black and white arms factory, a bullet with a weird bug inside it, a dog driving a truck, a vicious head shot, an abandoned mall, exploding head, exploding car, a ghost knob, a vast underground bit of weirdness, a weird portal to another dimension (?), topless demon women, giant spiders eating people, a gory animated sequence, spiked baseball bat to the head, giant monster attack, flamethrower attack while wearing a cool chrome skull mask, multiple men on fire, a dead black guy, a big black sphere, basketball, and flying podiums from space.

Kim Richards?: A little. Watch the animated sequence.

Gratuitous: Axes, gross bugs, Paul Giamatti, Clancy Brown, a freezer full of meat, a door handle that turns into a giant penis, “phantom limb syndrome,” barfing, a Jamaican guy, Angus Scrimm, a ripped off mustache that flies around like a butterfly, a bratwurst that’s a phone, a frozen coffee can, multiple weird hallucinations, a young girl with a messed up face, a black and white arms factory, a bullet with a weird bug bullet in it, a dog driving a truck, a vicious head shot, an abandoned mall, a ghost knob, topless demon women, giant spiders eating people, a gory animated sequence, spiked baseball bat to the head, flamethrower attack while wearing a cool chrome skull mask, a big black sphere, and flying podiums from space.

Best lines: “That’s the axe that slayed me!,” “You don’t look Asian, Mr. Wong,” “My boyfriend has been dead for two months,” “Well, he’s not here. Big surprise,” “That door cannot be opened!,” “Is some guy exposing himself over there?,” “Hey, mon! You owe me a beer, mon!,” “Who the fuck are you? My name is Roger Morris,” “Are you familiar with the old human saying I want to shoot you so bad my dick is hard?,” “Things are in motion, huh?,” “Your friend? He’s dead,” “What the fuck, man?,” “The bratwurst cost three bucks?,” “I suppose you want to know what I’m doing with this can of gasoline?,” “Hey, what up five-oh?,” “Dave, you don’t choose the soy sauce, the soy sauce chooses you,” “I found your dog,” “It’s not Fred. Not anymore,” “Arachnicide,” “Are you thinking what I’m thinking? That if Franz Kafka were here his head would explode? Yeah,” “Mmm. Bacon,” “Man! You fucked up the detonation sequence!,” “That dog just saved the universe!,” “Um, they called you the ‘N’ word? Why on Earth would they do that?,” “Shut the fuck up, Wong! Now!,” and “I’m sorry, Arnie. I really am.”

Rating: 7.5/10.0


Image Credit: Magnolia Home Entertainment


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B-movies rule. Always remember that.

Phantasm: Ravager

Reggie Bannister– Reggie
A. Michael Baldwin– Mike
Dawn Cody– Dawn/Jane
Angus Scrimm– The Tall Man
Stephan Jutras– Chunk
Gloria Lynne Henry– Rocky
Bill Thornbury– Jody
Kathy Lester– Lady in Lavender
Daniel Roebuck– Demeter
Daniel Schweiger– The Cuda thief

Directed by David Hartman
Screenplay by Don Coscarelli and David Hartman

Distributed by Well Go USA Entertainment

Runtime– 85 minutes

Buy it here or here or here

John Dies at the End

Chase Williamson– Dave
Rob Mayes– John
Paul Giamatti– Arnie Blondestone
Clancy Brown– Dr. Albert Marconi
Glynn Turman– Detective Lawrence Appleton
Doug Jones– Roger North
Daniel Roebuck– Largeman
Fabianne Therese– Amy
Jonny Weston– Justin White
Jimmy Wong– Fred Chu
Tai Bennett– Robert Marley
Angus Scrimm– Father Shellnut

Directed by Don Coscarelli
Screenplay by Don Coscarelli, based on the story by David Wong

Distributed by Magnet Releasing

Rated R for bloody violence and gore, nudity, language and drug content
Runtime– 99 minutes

Buy it here or here