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STUDIO: Vivendi Entertainment
RATED: Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes
“Fast, furious, and fatal” is the official tagline to a film that is neither fast nor furious, but there are a few nice fatalities.
Greg Evigan, Nicole Eggert, Brenna O’Brien. Directed by Terry Ingram
Eleven years ago, on a popular race track in the midwest, veteran racer JJ Sawyer (Evigan) and hot-shot driver Cutter are rivals in a knock-down, balls-to-the-wall race for glory. During their heated battle, the two racers clip and bump each other, furiously racing as fast as they can to beat each other. After a part on JJ’s car mysteriously fails, the two crash, causing JJ’s car to flip spectacularly and land upside down. As JJ’s car lays in the middle of the track, he watches, immobilized, as Cutters car is engulfed in flames, and Cutter dies a horrible death. Fade to black.
Thanks for pulling me out of that burning car, guys! How’s my hair?
As the current day text appears, we see an aging JJ driving his truck cross country, sans shotgun-chimp. JJ is working for a racing team now, transporting a car from here to there, when mechanical difficulties and destiny work together to leave him stranded in his old hometown. Luckily for the story, this is the same place where that fateful race took place those many years ago.
As JJ follows up with the townsfolk, he meets his estranged girlfriend (Eggert), her daughter (O’Brien), dead-Cutter’s brother, now married to old girlfriend, and Cutter race car, which has been re-furbished, re-vamped, and re-adytokill! After tasting some of JJ’s blood, the car gets all Christine’d and is out for blood.
With the usual complement of small-town characters, such as the punk kids, ornery sheriff, and crazy gas station attendant, the plate is full for vehicular chaos. The remainder of the film is full of “action” and “rekindled love” and “mayhem”, all complete with gore, no obscene language, and a happy ending.
I nose it was you, Fredo.
I deliberately composed the nutshell description of Phantom Racer to sound exciting and fun. However, if my synopsis of the movie is cliché-riddled and derivative, Phantom Racer has got it in spades. There is not much that is original in this story, including all of the following: the characters, the love-triangle, the child paternity question, the demonically controlled car, the cinematography, the visual and sound effects, the dialogue, and the direction. This is, after all, a SyFy-produced movie. Surprisingly, with the simple story and lack of strong language, this movie is extremely gory. Perhaps you may have noticed this in the selection of screen-grabs I provided.
The movie flows along at a steady pace, which keeps it interesting. But like any cheap B-movie, it is predictable and derivative. There are no surprises, and much of it is lazy. I know there is a sense of disbelief you must suspend in order to watch a demonically possessed car (and even in Christine they did this) but if you are really trying to save yourself, don’t run away from a car by running down the middle of the road! There are many scenes of vehicular action, and roughly every one that requires a sense of speed is unbelievably S-L-O-W. Adding fast music to slow cars driving around the track does not make them seem go any faster.
Hey, I can’t see above the dash! Am I ahead? Am I ahead?
As Phantom Racer has a producing credit by Greg Evigan, it’s no surprise that he has plenty of long, drawn out scenes of dialogue. Attempting to showcase his acting skills, I got the sense that he was trying to tell the audience that he still has it. Unfortunately, these scenes go on and on, and it really drags the movie to a halt. In the end, Phantom Racer is a classic B-movie movie with some gory kills and a tedious story.
It must be great to develop these SyFy movies. There is no pressure to come up with anything creative or original in order to be considered a success. You borrow the best ideas from others and you set up your shots according to angles you’ve gleaned from better films. It doesn’t mean that the movie isn’t enjoyable, but when it’s over it’s easily forgotten.
The package is quite nice. It is a black snap-case, and behind the plastic cover on the outside of the case, you will find a colorful insert depicting the marketing poster for Phantom Racer. In the foreground, you’ll see an image of a flaming, possessed racer with a broken helmet, through which you’ll see the leer of a half-skeletal corpse. In the back, you’ll see the banged-up, burning car that he drives at speeds of up to 35 mph. Inside the case is a small circular tab that securely holds the DVD for the film.
Oh yeah, there are some trailers on the disk for other SyFy-style end-of-the-world type, destruction films.
Happy Entrails, to you.