Phantom Racer could have been the best made-for-TV zombie racecar movie of all time. What stopped its roll to greatness? Well, for starters, the lack of zombies. The cover art of the Phantom Racer DVD box promises a lot. It’s got a skeleton on fire, wearing a bloody helmet and racing suit, standing next to a beat up racecar dripping blood. If you just happened to pick it up in the bargain bin at your local video store you’d say to yourself, “Great Zeus! This looks like it’s going to be a thrill ride for the ages!”
The art is just a tease of course. Kind of like seeing someone hot at the bar. You think to yourself, “Mmmmm. I’d like to try me some of that.” So you take a shot and wander on over. You stand next to them, lean on the bar, and ask the bartender for another drink. You toss a glance their way to let them know that you’re single and ready to mingle. They notice you. You’re eyes meet. They smile so you say something suave,
“You come around here often?”
They laugh, “Why yes. Yes I do.”
You tell them your name, they tell you theirs. It’s love at first sight, then suddenly you get to talking and… they are the most boring person you have ever met in your life. So boring that it doesn’t even matter how attractive they are, because if you have to spend one more second listening to the dribble pouring out of their mouth you will literally die. Then, as if sent by God himself, a wagon wheel chandelier falls from the ceiling and lands on the guy sitting at the table next to you. It’s gross and tragic yet, kind of awesome.
That’s pretty much what watching Phantom Racer is like. The scenes where people are dying are awesome in that gross out, cheesy horror film kind of way. But getting there is an exercise in tolerance. The film starts out at a NASCAR-like racetrack. We got J.J. Sawyer (Greg Evigan) racing against his rival and old friend Cutter (Adam Battrick). We got Tammy, (Nicole Eggert) who is Cutter’s chick, but she keeps looking at Sawyer like something’s going on. Cutter talks some trash to Sawyer and then talks to his brother and pit-crew chief about how he can’t lose. They race, they crash and Cutter joins that big racing circuit in the sky… or so we thought!
Enter the possessed car, bad dialogue, and surprisingly awesome death scenes. I’m going to list them just in case you do want to seek out the film you’ll know what to look for: people burnt alive in a wrecked racecar; someone’s body crushed by straps of front seat; perhaps a head chopped off by a car window. And so on.
What’s really sad about Phantom Racer is that there was actually a lot of potential. Take the cast, there really isn’t any bad acting. Seriously, these people are all really believable. Nicole Eggert is still hot in that aging mom sort of way and Greg Evigan holds his own, even when saying really terrible dialogue. The death sequences are legit too, the kind that might make one exclaim, “Oh shit!” at the television. Unfortunately, that’s not enough to save this wreck of a chasse.
It’s one thing for a movie to have bad dialogue (Avatar had bad dialogue) but for a movie to be boring and have bad dialogue is just too much. The majority of Phantom Racer (when people are not being killed by a car) is just plain boring. The film just has too much talking and not enough awesome.
DVD Special Features:
Starring: Nicole Eggert, Greg Evigan, Brenna O’Brien, Winston Rekert, Chad Willett
Director: Terry Ingram
Runtime: 90 Minutes