Phantasm IV: Oblivion
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Brace yourself for a journey beyond your worst nightmares as the Phantasm saga reaches its terrifying climax in a horrific explosion of gut-wrenching battles, lethal flying spheres and a spine-tingling quest to discover, once and for all, the secret of the mysterious Tall Man. Including outtake footage excised from the bone-chilling original, Phantasm: Oblivion is a nerve-shattering thriller from start to finish! For years, the Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) has waged a gruesome war against humanity, slowly populating the world with his undead legions. To stop the horrifying onslaught, two determined heroes, Michael (A. Michael Baldwin) and Reggie (Reggie Bannister), hurtle themselves through a gateway in the time/space continuum, to unearth a vital clue that may put an end to the horror. But time is running out as the Tall Man amasses his dark army for a blood-curdling final assault in which Michael and Reggie must fight not only for their own lives, but the lives of all mankind.
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As I said, the original cast members are back, all showing their age, especially the Tall Man (Angus Scrimm), and I still enjoy seeing him and hearing him utter his line "Booooy!". This movie sort of picks up where the third installment left off. We do find out more information about what's happening to Mike. We also get a little more information about the Tall Man, his origins, but not nearly enough to satisfy fans of the series. I don't know, he just didn't seem as menacing as he did in previous movies, but he did appear to be more powerful, so it was really odd. Reggie is back, and is the one character to appear in all the movies. His role in this movie is less than I would have wanted, as he really didn't get to do too much and wasn't integral to the story. The whole movie seemed thrown together, without much effort given to the story or the characters. One scene that comes to mind is when Reggie gets pulled over by a police car on a lonely road while pursuing Mike. The policeman takes his license and registration, and then disappears. Reggie goes to investigate, and gets attacked by a sort of zombie cop. Reggie takes refuge in the squad car, and attempts to remove the shotgun that's secured to the dash. He's unable to free it, but that's okay, as the zombie cop has conveniently decided to get on top of the roof and try to attack Reggie from that awkward vantage point through a window. Seeing as how the zombie cop is now on the roof, Reggie doesn't need to free the shotgun, but only to pull the trigger. As there was no reason for the zombie cop to get on the roof, it was all a set up to show that cool scene where Reggie is able to use the locked down shotgun and fire through the roof. The filmmaker also used a lot of scenes that were cut out from previous movies to create flashbacks. While it was really cool to see these scenes, the flashbacks got pretty longwinded and tedious and didn't seem to really add to the story. I would have rather seen these scenes re-edited into the movies they came from, or put into an extra features sections, but here they grew tiresome and seemed like a way to pad out the movie. We also see Jody, and Mike. Most of the movie seems to center on Mike, and his 'evolution'. We get to see his use his new powers, but kind of lame as these new powers are pretty useless when he goes against the Tall Man.
I didn't really talk a lot about the actual story, as it was so sloppy and slap dash, so I would recommend sticking to the first movie in this series, as it's the best. The next two were pretty good, and had a lot of action, but lacked the creepiness of the first movie. This last movie should probably be avoided, as it's pretty poor and looks more of an effort to cash in on the franchise than a labor of love. I think the fans deserved better.
But, dammit, I still like it. I still like these characters, and I still think the Tall Man is the best villain in Horror, and it still has some of the classic Phantasm feel. It's still got the voice-overs, the endless stretches of wilderness filled only with burnt out, dead towns and the surprisingly strong feel of desolation despite the profound oddness of the whole thing and cheesy but effective humor. It's got all the things I liked about the older Phantasm films, and I still like it. This review has turned inexplicably sentimental, so I oughta cut myself off and say what matters. 3 stars might be slighly generous, maybe 2.7 or 2.8 or something thereabouts.(Shockingly enough, those options aren't available to me) If you like the other Phantasm's you ought to see this, as we can all hope that they'll actually make a Phantasm V, and this fragment will be completed.