Besides a quick flashback sequence and a shot of The Tall Man walking slowly through the haunted halls of a mausoleum, Phantasm 4 starts off right where three left off.
Mike has told Reggie to leave him be and takes off on his own, Reggie decides to give up the fight against the Tall Man but is quickly persuaded by Jody to continue the pursuit of Mike and the Tall Man.
I have certainly learned something about the Phantasm films, and myself, revisiting them this week. I used to love Phantasm II, being my favorite of the sequels. I never really knew why. However, re-watching them I came to the realization that I enjoyed 2 so much because it reminded me of my youth. At the time, I was heavily into makeup effects, and Phantasm 2 was the most effects heavy of the films. After revisiting the series I find myself putting Oblivion at the top of the sequel list. The films grew over the years and I guess I have too. Oblivion is a much better all around film.
The newest of the sequel’s, Oblivion, shows the character’s on personal journey’s with very little makeup effects. Reggie has some conflict about continuing the journey, Mike is on a mission to find out what his part is in the mystery, and stop the Tall Man at any lengths.
Don Coscarelli’s takes on a journey that creates more questions than answers, He finally brings Mike to the forefront of the story. Besides the original, he was always there as a catalyst to construct Reggie’s motivations and journey. This movie is much more emotional, dark, and serious.
A. Michael Baldwin’s performance as the mentally destroyed, yet determined young man struggling to figure everything out, is amazing. You can almost see what he is going through in his eyes. The struggle with his brothers loyalty and trust is always lingering, and then there’s the suicide scene, hanging himself in the middle of nowhere from a tree that seems out of nowhere, is just beautiful.
But the most haunting part of the film, is how Coscarelli used footage that was left over from the original to seamlessly melt into this one. Did he know making the first one where the story was going? Did he watch the footage and create a story around it? Either which way other filmmakers have tried it and in no way does it fit so easily as it does with Oblivion. The ending scene with Reggie and Mike on the ice cream truck is chilling. You hear Mike in voice over say “Reg I’m dying” Reggie looks around like he hears it and looks at Mike and says “did you hear something”? Mike responds, “it’s just the wind”. It’s almost as if that scene was shot specifically for Oblivion. You have to wonder what Coscarelli originally wanted Reggie to hear back then.
As I mentioned before this film creates more questions than answers. But the series is called Phantasm. Which was genius on Coscarelli’s part because in all fairness, he doesn’t have to answer any of the questions and nothing has to make sense. Honestly I don’t think it every will.
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