Exploitation Retrospect | The Journal of Junk Culture and Fringe Media
Ice Scream Man: An Interview with Reggie BannisterPART 2...

What was your initial reaction upon reading the script for PHANTASM?

You know, I'm not sure I remember reading a script for PHANTASM. We were just crazy people that wanted to do creative things. I don't think I really place too much of a, too many of my standards...I was a very tolerant person, we were very tolerant of each other. If we had done a creative thing with someone and someone said, "Hey, we're gonna do this again," you just kind of trusted them and went with the flow. That was the way it was.

Basically, I think I'm not really so sure I ever did read a script. We would go in and there would be sides every time we'd shoot. And it would be, "Hey Reg, this is what we'd like you to do," and we'd discuss it. I'd say, "Hey Don, what if I say, 'Do you think he's gonna leak all over my ice cream?'" It was a real communal, creative project.

I watched all three films in the last day and a half...

Oh my God, you've been PHANTASM-ed!

...and it was fun, especially the special laser disc of the first one where you and Don talk about the home movies that were shot on the set. From those I get the feeling that Reggie the character is a lot like Reggie, the guy I'm talking to. How much input did you have in developing the character from where he was in the first film to where he is at the end of the third film?

The character of Reggie was always intended to be a small role, a neat guy, a friend. I don't know that it was ever meant to develop into the character that it is in PHANTASM 3. Because of the creative atmosphere that Don allows to take place on the set and always has, and I'm such a creative myself, I kept saying, "What if we did this" or "Wouldn't it be cool if we did that." One thing led to another, and I guess the part of Reggie grew in the first film.

From what it was originally intended to be?

From what it was originally planned to be to something larger. And like I said, I don't have a memory of reading the entire script, I don't even really know, but I dealt with every scene as it came up. We expanded through creative conversations with Don and some of the other people on the set. We expanded the whole Reggie character in the first one.And then in the second one, Reggie was perceived as this really neat, like a hero. And I was kind of taken back by that like wow, far out, thanks a lot guys. You think the Reg Man's a hero, that's great. So we developed that aspect of him--his heroism--and his willingness to throw his body on the fire for his friend.

Which you do a lot through the three films.

Oh, you noticed? Yeah, every other page is, "Reg hits the floor, it happens to be a marble floor, and he does a head first slide into home plate."

Did you ever feel the need to say, "Don, I really need a stunt double here."

You know, I'm so crazy I love to be a part of every aspect and I'm a very physical guy, by the way. I play a lot of basketball, I weight train, I do sit-ups and push-ups on a daily basis. So I'm real physical, I like to get physical. I think it comes from growing up on a block full of kids that liked to play "War." You'd shoot each other and we'd go through these terrible gyrations as we'd die.

Sort of like your death scene at the end of the first PHANTASM.

Yeah, it's fun, and I generally ask to do more than my stunt coordinator will let me do.

It shows, 'cause it looks like you're always there sacrificing your body for the movie.

Well I think that's what Reg should do. That's who he is, and in a sense that's me, that's Reggie Bannister. Since Don likes to relate characters to people that he's loved in his life, the Reg character is very close to me. But I've played him a little more overtly. I'm a little hipper than he is. He finds himself in situations that I just wouldn't find myself in. Not to say that I haven't found myself in outrageous situations.

It really is a great character, though.

Thanks, I'm glad you like him. I think everybody likes him.

Reggie kicks ass in Phantasm 2Oh yeah, I remember when we saw PHANTASM 2 on opening night and we were thrilled that Reg had become a much larger part of the picture.

He's kind of every man's man. When he walks on the screen you walk on there with him.

Was it like a reunion working on P3 and having Michael Baldwin and Bill Thornbury back?

It was terrific. But it was even more terrific for me than for them. You know, when you work on a film you don't always work with everybody at the same time. Yet you say, "Well I was in this movie with that person." I really didn't get to work with Angus [Scrimm] that much in the first one, and even in the first film that Don did when Angus plays the father who kills his son, and I never really got to meet [him] because I only worked a few days on that film.

So, to do P3, we were all together at one time. When we shot that scene where Michael's up in the crypt and The Tall Man's magically removed the crypt and it's transparent. Jody (Bill Thornbury) and I are standing back there watching, and we were all there together. We were actually in a mausoleum, and we were pretty thrilled to be there together. That was the first night we were all there together, almost all of us were going to be in the same scene at the same time. So yeah, that was really cool.

There's a scene where I'm standing in front of the crypt and I'm trying to figure out where Michael went because it's marble again, and I go up and I touch the marble wall. Well, we did that as an MOS shot without sound. Well, I've gotta tell you that when I touched that marble wall - and this is the first night that we're all together - all hell broke loose outside. We're in California in a mausoleum at about midnight, and there was a storm that broke loose and when

I touched the wall a huge clap of thunder....BRAWW! And I went, "Holy shit, what's going on?!" And then lightning through the windows, and I've got to carry on with the scene like nothing's happening, but it was pretty amazing. It hailed, and this is in Southern California, and rained and stormed harder than I've ever seen it for like five hours after that.

We try and weasel some details about about PHANTASM 4 and Reg fills us in on his new musical cd in Part 3 of our interview...

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