Phantasm IV: Oblivion (1998) – Don Coscarelli

The Tall Man (Angus Scrimm), Micheal (A. Micheal Baldwin), Reggie (Reggie Bannister) and Jody (Bill Thornbury) are back again as Don Coscarelli delivers us a fourth Phantasm outing in a universe that I like visiting and revisiting.

Eschewing a lot of the humour that showed up in the previous film, the fourth film is probably my favourite since the first film, it raises questions, expands on the characters, gives us a curious glimpse at the Tall Man’s origins, as this story takes us through time and space.

Picking up again where the previous film left us hanging, Reggie literally, the film takes us in unexpected directions, while glossing over the fact that neither the boy, Tim, or, the soldier, Rocky, is around. Considering how the last film ended, you’d think Reggie would be a little upset by that.

Instead, the Tall Man lets him go, hinting that Reggie has some bigger part to play, but then has his minions harass him for the rest of the film, while he attempts to convert Mike to his needs, though we’re never quite sure what that need is, though it’s suggested visually, that Mike would become the next Tall Man.

Much more dreamlike than the two previous instalments, the film also incorporates unused footage and scenes from the original film, which really adds a depth to the film as it sets up a number of great moments in the film, that tie the universe together more than any other Phantasm film to date.

The focus has shifted from Reggie to Mike in this film, and that could be why the humour is toned down. Reggie by nature is a funnier, and cooler character than Mike, so a film that centres on him is bound to have a few more laughs. This film is interested, in its own way, into digging into Mike’s past, the Tall Man’s and those things aren’t necessarily funny.

In fact the first reveal of Scrimm not as the Tall Man, but as Morningside is not only a bit of a shock, but unnerving for the viewer and Mike.

We learn that we can’t trust everything we are exposed to in these stories, and the Tall Man isn’t trapped by death, or physical destruction. While Mike struggles with the changes that the Tall Man has inflicted on him, and then removed, causing him to be on the edge of death, Reggie leaps through a dimensional portal in search of answers and a way to save his friend.

This leaves us wondering what comes next, though the suggestion, visually, at the end of the film is that Mike’s journey is over. What does that mean for Reggie and the Tall Man, we’ll have to find out next time in Phantasm: Ravager.

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