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PHANTASM 4: OBLIVION
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Reviewed by: JimmyO

Directed by: Don Coscarelli

Starring:
A. Michael Baldwin
Reggie Bannister
Angus Scrimm

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
A Phantasm film to take you back to the basics. It stars the original cast and it takes place directly after the third. It uses footage cut from the original as Mike travels through dimensions to find the origin of the mean old undertaker and finally stop The Tall Man.
Is it good movie?
Hey… this movie has “balls”. I really love that quote from the trailer for Phantasm: OblIVion just because it is really funny. Don Coscarelli was thinking of the fans by bringing back all of the main players from the original for the third and forth outing. And this time out, Jody (Bill Thornbury) is still traveling around as one of the previously mentioned balls. While Michael (A. Michael Baldwin) is struggling to fight a similar fate. The Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) is looking to make this dude his bitch. And then of course there is Reggie (Reggie Bannister) who is looking to help an old friend out and stop the creepy undertaker from taking his buddy Mike also. Now this is basically a description of the plot, but the film itself is not so simple.

It begins with Michael on the road, knowing that The Tall Man will find him. He prepares for battle by driving the hearse around with hopes of finding the origin of his nemesis. This whole idea is drawn out during the film until he finally reaches this abandoned beachfront for the final battle. Reggie on the other hand knows that the Jody Ball is looking for Mike, so he is searching for him too. A lot of driving around in this one. Another thing that is sort of fascinating is the use of several sequences that were shot for the original film but left on the editing room floor. But now, they are mixed together with current footage and given a strained plot. It was fairly interesting to see the early footage so truthfully, as a fan of the series it is absolutely worth watching for that alone. But I think it did more harm to the actual film than good. I kept trying to piece together where it happened in the context of the first.

While not really a typical horror film, it remains true to the bizarre nature of the Phantasm series. It is filled to the brim with oddities, such as a demon policeman, a beauty with those evil balls for breasts and of course the half-size monsters that look a bit like the Jawas from Star Wars. But the problem lies with the plot that seems to go nowhere and several sequences of lone characters looking at weird shite. I think Coscarelli really has a fascinating eye when it comes to fantasy/horror and this film is no exception. But it is lacking the thrills and the ghoulishness of the original. Although The Tall Man is still pretty creepy as he strides around looking for fresh bodies to add to his collection. And the other regulars are also quite good, it seems that Bannister and Baldwin are very comfortable in their roles. While it is good to see Thornbury, I think he is underused and therefore is kind of wasted.

It was exciting to see so much of the original here, but rather than a horror film, it felt like some kind of reunion. There were no real scares, and the lone characters wandering around leave a little to be desired. Unique and strange, but not necessarily the ending I would have hoped for… well, aside from the joy of seeing all the originals back in action. Yet I wouldn’t mind seeing what they could do with another round of killer balls.
Video / Audio
Video: This is a nice 1.78:1 transfer that keeps this sequel alive and well.

Audio: The Dolby Surround 5.1 is also quite good. Anchor Bay usually does right by the fans, and this transfer is no exception.
The Extras
The Special Features include a very entertaining Commentary from Don Coscarelli, Reggie Bannister and Angus Scrimm. It is also a great place to find out how they got all the old footage and mixed it in with the final(?) installment. A very good listen that helps put the sequel in some perspective. It also feels a bit like hearing from old friends, and it even gives a little bit of an understanding on the film Don made.

Next up we have a Behind the Scenes: PHANTASM OBLIVION (9:18) which is actually worth a look. It was very interesting to see the use of practical effects and how they really made some incredible looking shots considering the budget.

Then there is the Promo trailer that was out there before they added the “Oblivion” part to it. Also worth a look.

And finally, once you pop this DVD in you get Trailers for the original and still the best, “Phantasm”, “Phantasm 3”, “Jack Brooks Monster Slayer“, “Dario Argento‘s Phenomena“ and “Dario Argento’s Tenebrae”
Last Call
I really wanted to love Phantasm: OblIVion. I am so happy to see all the original characters back, and it seems that Don Coscarelli gets better and better at creating a uniquely strange viewing experience. It makes sense why many fans love this forth installment. The footage from the original film brought back how much I love the first. Yet, it just didn’t work for me. While not necessarily a bad film, it just feels a bit uneven and lacking in scares with a sort of scattershot story. I appreciate the approach of making this an sort of “art house” horror film, but sadly it didn’t win me over. I still would very much like to see a definitive end to the series at some point. But whether it will happen or not, time will tell.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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