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E.C.McMullen Jr.
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PHANTASM
MOVIE REVIEW
PHANTASM II
MOVIE REVIEW
PHANTASM III
MOVIE REVIEW
PHANTASM
COMIC REVIEW
PHANTASM IV: OBLIVION - 1998
Silver Sphere Corporation / Orion Home Video / Warner Brothers
Rating: USA: R

Some movies induce good or even better sequels at first, then go swirling down the drain. ALIEN and ALIENS were two great movies, but 3 and 4 stank. HELLRAISER and HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER 2 were good movies, but again, 3 and 4 stank. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET series was simply Good, Bad, Good, Okay, Crap, Crappity, Crap, Not bad!

If you've never seen any of the PHANTASM movies, then shame on you! Go out and see PHANTASM, PHANTASM II, and, only if you've been really good, go and see PHANTASM III. Ignore PHANTASM IV: OBLIVION.

Writer/Director Don Coscarelli (PHANTASM [all], BEAST MASTER, SURVIVAL QUEST) has never been the best writer, but what he lacked in storytelling ability, he more than made up for in vision and cinematography. I mean PHANTASM! WOW!

I've heard from many die hard fans of the series that PHANTASM IV: OBLIVION was so bad it hurt their fond memories of the other three. That's sad. On the other hand, there have been a few fans who swear that this is the absolute best PHANTASM ever, that the rest of us don't understand it, because we aren't "True Phantasm Phans"! I have asked two of them* to explain to me what it was I didn't understand. One gave me the ignorance disguised as genius remark:

"If you can't understand it, then I won't be able to explain it to you."

Which is another way of saying

"I am unable to explain it myself."

I'm pretty sure that if I can understand physics, genetics, and the Upanishads, then I can understand a lack-luster flick like PHANTASM IV: OBLIVION.

What is obvious here is that Don Coscarelli didn't have a story to tell, but he did have the money to spend. So he brought together the old crew and threw us a bone by adding a bunch of old never-before-seen footage from PHANTASM and topped it all off by introducing a few ideas that he didn't know how to end. To be very very forgiving, call it a transitional movie, one that takes you from PHANTASM III to PHANTASM V. It didn't have to be that way, but Coscarelli couldn't think of anything better. Considering the fact that he created this world in the first place, it's a shame that he did 4. Sort of like Ira Levin ruining ROSEMARY'S BABY with ROSEMARY'S SON (which has its Levin-can-do-no-wrong fans too), Ugh!

Feo & Reggie
FEO AMANTE & REGGIE BANNISTER AT THE SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON

This movie does have its moments of course, and all those center around Reggie (Reggie Bannister: PHANTASM [all], WISHMASTER - Visit the Reggie photo Gallery). The Demon Cop (Bob Ivy: stunt car driver for PHANTASM III) scene is the best in the flick.

Fanwise, Reggie is the favorite character in the series after The Tall Man (Angus Scrimm: SWEET KILL [as Rory Guy], PHANTASM [all], SUBSPECIES, WISHMASTER), Reggie not only provides much needed humor and humanity to the flick, but his personal problems reflect our own. Reggie isn't worried about saving the world, he cannot conceive of saving the world; he just wants to get through the terrors of the Tall Man in one piece with his skin, and his friend's skin, intact: and maybe find some love in his life. Let other fans imagine themselves the super surrealistic heroes and villains; I identify with Reggie.

For PHANTASM IV: OBLIVION, there is no story and no movie and if the fans want PHANTASM V^ to be any good, then they need to knock off their pathetic "More Phantasm Phan than thou!" attitude and demand better.

There is a reason this one went "direct to video" and is for "completists" only.

Shriek Girl
This review copyright 1999 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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*
The other launched into a rambling babble that forced me to see the movie again. I realized that his "explanation" had far more to do with what he wanted to see than anything shown on the screen. I both understand and appreciate the fact that PHANTASM lives on in this person's mind beyond the films themselves. That's all well and good and Don Coscarelli even allowed a few horror writer's / phans to publish (
with his authorization) an anthology called PHANTASM: Excursions Into Oblivion. But you don't rate a movie on what you wish it was about. You see it for what it is, and I'm hoping that the next one is a whole lot better.

^
UPDATE: According to the Official PHANTASM site, Work began on PHANTASM 1999 in August.

The plotline is laid out at the site and it sounds like a really good one. I'm really hoping that PHANTASM V can save the lost wandering of 4, much in the same way that HELLRAISER II completed HELLRAISER.

As of April 4, 2000, the PHANTASM folks are still seeking backing and PHANTASM V may well be pushed forward to 2002. In any case, all Fans of this series should go to the PHANTASM site and let their voices be heard. I'd hate to see this series end on 4.

UPDATE: AUGUST 2007
PHANTASM V is now in pre-production and slated for a 2009 release.

UPDATE: JUNE 2009
After over 10 years of false starts, PHANTASM V is dead again.


2009
PHANTASM's 30th birthday is celebrated at the
Big Bear Film Festival.

For Phans of PHANTASM, Read RED PLANET by Rick Elkin. From the Official and Authorized Phantasm anthology PHANTASM: Excursions Into Oblivion

PHANSITES

See Feo at the PHANTASMANIA in Austin, Texas

The Official PHANTASM site

REGGIE BANNISTER

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