46 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on August 15, 2000
Phantasm Oblivion can be a relatively challenging film if one isn't properly acquainted with the series. I don;t mean to talk down to casual Phantasm fans or those looking for a cheap scare, if you don't know the first three films rather well, part IV here will certainly confuse you.To those who have come to love these characters, Oblvion takes them all through quite the ride. Mike is struggling with his newfound 'power', the Tall Man wishes to seduce Mike into becoming like him while Reggie is still hot on his trail. There is a considerable amount of emotion evident here, director Coscarelli knows that at this point we know and care about our heros, the stakes are raised in this flick and hidden truths are finally revealed. The fascinating thing here is while some older questions are wrapped up, Oblivion opens many new questions up to the fans. There is enough happening in this film alone to keep them debating for years to come. It's all fasciating and Angus Scrimm as the Tall Man is still a very intimidating screen presence. The budget on this film was quite low (under 1 million), so you tell me, after watching this film, can you even begin to be impressed with what Coscarelli has done with his limited budget. If you know anything about filmmaking you must appreciate it, but of course, working miracles with no money still does not make a great film.Phantasm Oblivion is a success in every other way also, from the use of unused footage from the original, to the showcasing of Tall Man's origins, to the spectacularly sad ending, Oblivion may not be as scary as the orignal, but when you get this far into the series, being engrossed is much more important than being scared. Coscarelli engrossed me 10 times over and I'm hungry for more, the mark of a truly great film.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on August 26, 2008
Horror/slasher films can be so predictable. Toss in a villainous character, add a body count, include gruesome CGI, meld in a suspenseful soundtrack (although it can be heavy metal now), cast a beautiful young woman for titillation, and use light sparingly. If you are so inclined, plan at least two sequels so you can release director cuts and special editions. Toss in a good story for good measure.
It's a good thing Don Coscarelli is not predictable. The Phantasm series, while possessing some of the `standard' horror film characteristics, eclipses itself in the fourth and last film. There have been zombies, dwarf killers, and a truly outstanding villain in the `Tall Man'. "Oblivion", while a final film, answers the questions that fans have been asking. "What caused the Tall Man to become evil?" "What are the spheres anyway?" "Did Jody really die in the car crash?" Lastly, can Mike stop the Tall Man from becoming evil?
Coscarelli's response is almost poetic. Mike travels through crystal gateways into alternate time frames and realities based on his what-ifs. Jody, his late brother, returns to guide him. The Tall Man teases him with the past, and the offer to join him as he hastens a final death for all mankind. "Be careful what you search for, you just might find it." The ice Cream Man, Reggie, travels through an abandoned landscape only to realize that his final destination depends on Michaels' actions. There is gore, there is action, and there is a strong underlying theme in the film. Our past decides our future. Our decisions have consequences.
The film is immaculately produced. Visually, the photography and special effects are well done. Sharp TV fans will notice the improved 1313 Mockingbird Lane house from the Munsters (now Astoria Lane in Desperate Housewives). The Alabama Hills and Lone Pine sparkle. In a backhanded tribute to the Lone Pine area, Coscarelli includes a western scene where the Cisco Kid and Lone Ranger once galloped. For a horror film, the few spots of humor are well handled and appropriate.
Intelligent horror is rare. This film makes the grade. Bravo Mr Coscarelli.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2005
Being an avid "Phantasm" fan, I didn't like this film when I first saw it. Now, couple of years later, I watched it again and was slightly surprised because the impression improved. The forth installment to the series may not be as scary as the first one, not as gripping as the second and not as funny as the third, but Don Coscarelli made an unexpectable turn to thoughtfulness and philosophy. We are to discover many unknown and unexplored facts about the Tall Man and the nature of his abilities and creatures. We will be baffled about what's going on, because the story takes an unexpected turn and makes a loop returning to the very beginning. What was all that? A Nightmare? Some paranoid delusion? Just a dream? Or is it real? You'll learn the answers after watching but not all of them, certainly. "Phantasm" was always a kind of a movie where pretty much is left for your own imagination, so here you'll have to ponder too. By the way (in the next sentence there may be a spoiler, you may want to start reading the next paragraph), the ending of the forth part is the only one with no sudden Tall Man appearence and dwarves grabbing some of the characters. Here the finale is more like metaphysical.
The one ingenious discovery by Don Coscarelli here was that he inserted some of not previously used footage from the first "Phantasm". Those are the frames you didn't have a chance to see even in deleted scenes for the first film, and here they matched just right. Coscarelli tied the past and the present together, so we got this strange, sinister and global new phantasm.
But still this is far from seeming to be a closure of the series. The Tall Man is still undefeated, the cities are still being desolated, Jody is still half a man-half a ball :), Mike (who is not dead, but it's hard to say if he's alive either) and Reggie are lost somewhere in time between dimensions. So the forth part looks rather a preparation for the final battle than the end itself. So we are left in suspended animation to wait for the pay-off. I just hope studios will come to agreement, find the financing and help Don Coscarelli finish the quintology. And I hope the last one will finally be written by Roger Avery. Every story has to have an ending.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2008
Phantasm IV just might be my favorite film of all time, and I'd like to explain why I adore it so much and feel that, in every sense, it IS a fitting end to the series, and that it leaves NO questions unanswered.
This series has always been a riddle, always an enigma, and the answers are as difficult to see when they're right in front of you as perhaps the destination of one of the Tall Man's dimensional forks.
I'm sure everyone has a theory of what was meant or implied by a lot of the events of Phantasm IV, and here's my personal take that I strongly believe in, so much so that when I watch part IV, it brings tears to my eyes, every time, without fail.
A lot of people get confused by the "contradictory" flashback scenes that depict different events than what happened in the original Phantasm.
Think about this...it IS true that the ending of Phantasm reveals that everything was just a bad dream, and that Jody died in a car wreck. But poor confused little Michael claims that everything felt so real...
Ten years later, his dream is proven a reality because the Tall Man is back, desecrating every town he travels through-he also kills Reggie's family. Reggie then believes Michael and the two team up and the rest of the series plays out rather linearly.
But...then how could everything have been a dream, if it all proved true? What....REALLY happened?
In part IV, Michael is not only beginning to understand everything about the Tall Man's origins, but about the CORRECT origins to his own connection to it all. It WAS a dream, but something ELSE happened. All the flashback footage we are shown in part IV finally reveals what REALLY happened when Michael first encountered the Tall Man. Everything else we saw in the original was either one of many parallel universes we've witnessed in the series, or merely a dream caused by the Tall Man affecting Michael's perception of reality.
So....Jody DID die in a car wreck, but we never LIVED that reality. It's this disconnection and robbery of Michael's memory of his brother that makes this series so effective in it's sense of loneliness and emotional loss.
Also, I believe that the girl from Phantasm II that Michael has a telepathic connection to is a result of this. She looks extremely similar to the granddaughter of the psychic from the original, and I believe, that if everything from part I WAS a dream, then he knew that girl from a separate dimension of reality, the reality we never knew, that is, until we saw glimpses of it in part IV.
The ending of part IV brings tears to my eyes. Reggie tears through the fabric of time, to journey back to where his personal journey with Mike began. Sitting together in the ice cream truck, they truly have traveled back in time, where they can relive the battle, only this time, armed with something more powerful than a four-barreled shotgun....knowledge.
They will continue this battle, most likely forever. Yet every time they come back to where they started, they will have learned more every time.
It is for this reason that I do not wish for a Phantasm V, no matter how much I adore this "phranchise". I have never held so much love and compassion for a series of films or a cast of characters as much as what I've seen in the Phantasm saga. I would love another journey with them, but, in my heart, I know that Reggie and Mike are still out there, traveling across endless dimensions, fighting the Tall Man for all eternity. They are the Yin and Yang, the Life and Death, of Space and Time. For one to give in to, or to destroy the other, would probably unravel the very fabric of all reality. Let's hope their fight never ends.
Thank you, Don, for giving us the most endearing, complex, and compassionate horror film saga that has ever been created. I will cherish these films until the day I die.
Your undying Phan,
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 11, 2000
Phantasm: OblIVion (1998)
Phantasm: OblIVion,is the fourth installment in the Phantasm series.It's a little better than Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead, but still does not match the tones and scares of the first two films,Phantasm and Phantasm II.
It's very nice to see the humor from Phantasm III gone and were back to being scary again.The music score of Phantasm IV is absolutely stunning.Christopher Stone is a brilliant composer and in my honest opinion,his score was better than Fred Myrow's score from Phantasm,Phantasm II,and Phantasm III.It's arguably the best score of the entire Phantasm series.
It's great to know "The Tall Man's" true idenity.His real name is Jebediah Morningside,and he was warm and friendly before he became the cold-hearted,sinister "Tall Man".
Phantasm: OblIVion was a thrill ride from start to finish.The music score blew me away,the special effects are top-notch,and the performances are great.This is far better than Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead,but it still can't match Phantasm and Phantasm II.It's still recommended though.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Don Coscarelli outdid himself with Phantasm IV: Oblivion, which is the best film in the series since the classic original, and by far the best sequel in the series as well. Picking up right where Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead left off, Mike (A. Michael Baldwin) is on the run from the Tall Man (Angus Scrimm), with Reggie (Reggie Bannister) in hot pursuit. Soon enough, Mike begins to learn bits and pieces of the Tall Man's past, what role his dead brother Jody (Bill Thornbury) plays in all this, and his own mysterious ties to the Tall Man begin to unravel as well. While Phantasm IV does feature some predictable moments and suffers from some uneven pacing, Coscarelli manages to brilliantly integrate unused footage from his 1979 original to tie everything together, bringing the entire saga as close to full circle as it may well get. Needless to say, the Phantasm series has always managed to be one of the absolute best and most intelligent horror series over the past few decades, and Phantasm IV is ample proof. Maybe one day Coscarelli will finally give us a fifth film to bring it all to a close (and maybe we'll get Phantasm II on DVD too).
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 16, 2002
Phantasm IV is by far the best in the series. 5 out of 5. Phantasm Phans will enjoy this. Don Coscarelli made this film as a love letter to the Phans. The film uses deleted footage from the original Phantasm movie to further enhance the story line and it works. Phantasm IV begins right where Phantasm III left off. Mike leaves on a quest to escape his transformation, while Reggie fights to save him from The Tall Man. Mike, Reggie and The Tall Man are modern day representations of mythological characters and their adventures are reminders of stories about quest, heroes and villains. Mike must confront his past and the secret of The Tall Man is reviled. I have to say that in the opening of the movie, when Mike gives his speech about "The Last Perfect Day", I was on the verge of tears. Phantasm IV is a masterpiece of film.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 27, 2000
Phantasm 4 is an ok film. But unless you have seen the other 3 phantasm movies then you might be a bit confused on what's going on. This film starts right where phantasm 3 leaves off.
The film isn't as face paced as the other phantasm movies, There is alot of questions answered about the Tall man and other stuff from the other films.
This is def. a must see if your a big phantasm fan or if you have seen the other 3. All of the origional cast are in this one, Which is why it's worth seeing.
The ending of this film almost assures a 5th film in the series will be made also...
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 15, 2008
This is one of my favorite Phantasm's. It brings back the original actors in their original roles. It fell more into the realm of the first Phantasm with its hard to comprehend qualities. The more you watch it the more you come to understand.
I believe that some people will not like this movie, for the same reason some didn't like the first one. It has a surreal quality that film goers don't like these days. They prefer a movie that spells it out for you and lays it all up front. They lack imagination and expect the film maker to give them one. I'm all for this when I'm in the mood for some brainless fun. However that's not what you get here. If you find this movie confusing its because you haven't actually seen it. Watch it again until you figure it out. If you've made it all the way to OblIVion then I know you're already a Phan. Pay close attention to the end and it will become clear where the story went. It will make more sense as to why the film appears to be so disjointed. Like a dream perhaps? Read further and I'll try to explain.
For those of you who were clueless about the end of the film and hate it for that reason here are my thoughts on Phantasm IV.
The whole Phantasm series was a dream in young Mikes head. Jody was killed in a car accident (dead from the very start of the series much like young Mikes parents) and Reggie was taking care of young Mike now that his whole family was deceased. When Mike and Reggie are in the Ice Cream truck together driving away at the end of Phantasm IV and you hear adult Mike say "I'm dying" and Reggie asks Mike "Did you hear something?" Mikes response was "It's just the wind. Only the wind". At this point Mike (young Mike) had given up his dream world and accepted the fact that Jody and his parents were dead and were never coming back and in this fact killing the adult dream Mike who never really existed in the first place. I think even "adult" Mike had an idea of what was truly going on and chose to end it.
The Tall Man: "Ice cream man, it's all in his head."
Who knows if Tommy was killed by the lady in lavender in the graveyard or if he was in the car accident with Jody? It doesn't really matter if Tommy even existed at all or if he was just another creation in Mikes dream world. There were many characters introduced throughout the series that came and went without any real purpose. The only two that stuck it out from the beginning to the end were Reggie and Mike. This was due to the fact that they were the only "real" characters from the very beginning. Maybe Tommy was a creation to help Mike deal with Jody's funeral.
Go back and watch all 4 films from the very beginning and pay close attention to the things that happened that didn't really happen. Mikes encounters with the Tallman, Alchemy (Samantha Phillips) lying on the embalming table only to disappear when Mike turns around. Mike and Liz (Paula Irvine) being able to communicate with their minds. The endings to the first 3 films. Everything that happens in the 4 Phantasm films are hints that it's all just a dream. Even now I can hear The Tallman say "No, it's not!".
All the Tall Man was is an undertaker who young Mike thought of as taking away his family (which made him the antagonist in Mikes dreams), but really was just a creepy old undertaker. Perhaps just the sweet old man who offers Mike lemonade in his inter dimensional time trip.
I believe this was Coscarelli's intention all along and so many people complained that it was too vague or they just didn't understand it at all. It was after the complaints that talks for a fifth film began. After all, since when do artists ever feel the need to explain their vision. Either you get it or you don't.
In earlier interviews he said that Oblivion would be the 4th and final Phantasm, and that he intended to have a surprise ending that wrapped up the whole story. I feel that's exactly what we got, all that time to find out that Mike was still just a little boy with a dead family and none of it ever really happened. It was so surreal and I love it! I think it was an excellent end to an amazing trip.
Notice the use of dreamlike sequences throughout the whole series. Even the ones tossed out of Phantasm II by the studios.
There were some rumors about a possible Phantasm V after the remake trilogy fell apart (thank the gods of horror). However Don Coscarelli hasn't mentioned it in any of his recent interviews. When questioned about Phantasm V Angus Scrimm's exact words were "Don't hold your breath!". Not to mention the fact the guy is 82 years old. At Louisville's Fright Night Film Festival Mike Baldwin, Reggie Banister and Angus Scrimm all stated they weren't interested in a remake of any sorts.
I don't think Don Coscarelli's heart is really in making a 5th film in the series. Considering that his original concept of Phantasm IV was closure.
I could be TOTALLY OFF on this. However I like to think I'm on target. Since I don't see another film in the near future and definitely not with Mr. Scrimm who makes Phantasm what it is. I choose to let it end here and most certainly don't want to see my favorite series get the same treatment as the most recent Crow and Highlander installments.
For those of you still waiting on Phantasm II on DVD if you have a region free DVD player you can get the complete set via Region 2. The copies contained in the set are the exact re-released DVD's of Phan 1,3 and 4 plus you get a really cool bonus disc. So I'm pretty sure that if we ever get a Region 1 release of Phantasm II it will just be the same version issued on Region 2.
If you don't have a region free DVD player it's real simple to make 90% of current DVD Players region free. No hardware modifications.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 26, 2008
Phan 4 is a very interesting movie, one that gets better with each viewing. Why...because there is so much meaning going on behind what you see...the commentary is just fantastic...I guarantee you will never look at phan 4 again in the same way after the commentary. The picture and sound are superior to the early mgm disc, buts its the extras that kick butt here. The intercutting of phan 1 into 4 is very cool. But it is the hidden meaning...the various possibiltes...that make repeat viewing very important...detail here is critical. If this is the last phan movie so be it....I hope not...but this is going to be very hard to top, it's kind of like a sandwich one and four are the bread and 2 and 3 are the cheese. There really is something here on phan..its not easy to fiqure out of anybody ever does but it well worth the challenge, best 11 bucks I spend this year.