Review Date: July 30, 2000
Released by: MGM
Release date: 8/1/2000
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes | P&S - Side B
Phantasm OblIVion begins where Phantasm III ends. Reggie (Reggie Bannister) is left pinned to a wall in The Tall Man's (Angus Scrimm) mortuary by killer spheres. Mike (Bill Thornbury) has escaped into the desert, driving The Tall Man's hearse. Planted in his skull is one of silver sphere's; it is slow transforming Mike into one of The Tall Man's minions. While driving into the desert he has flashbacks from past dealings with The Tall Man.
The Tall Man decides that it isn't Reggie's time to die and he orders the spheres to depart, thereby releasing the pinned Reggie. He's about to hightail it out of there when he's confronted by Jody's dead brother, Jody (A. Michael Baldwin, who warns him that Mike is in trouble and will need help. Finally Reggie heads out to the desert, following Mike. Along the way he saves a woman named Jennifer (Heidi Marnhout), who turns out to be a bit more than he can handle.
Mike arrives at Funeral Mountains in Death Valley to confront The Tall Man. He begins to work on the hearse's engine, modifying it into some kind of weapon against The Tall Man. He finds a portal in the desert that allows him to view The Tall Man's past, getting a sense of how he first came to be. He hopes to use this portal against The Tall Man, but many surprises await him in the portal. Finally, one of the few people left that he can trust, Reggie, finally arrives in the desert. He teams up with Mike to confront The Tall Man this one final time (?) in a battle to save both himself and Mike from The Tall Man.
I have to say that I enjoyed the first three Phantasm movies. I know some people didn't enjoy the sequels but I did. They certainly weren't as good as the first film, but for sequels they were pretty damn good. And of course, the first one was spectacular, having such a creepy and effective atmosphere. Unfortunately, I cannot say I liked fourth Phantasm film, Phantasm OblIVion, at all. The story (if you can call it that) is slow moving, relying on flashbacks to keep the film moving while Mike is driving towards the desert. A good portion of the film consists of never-before-seen footage from the original Phantasm. In Phantasm OblIVion that footage is used quite often in the flashback sequences. And while it's impressive how the footage merges in reasonably well with the fourth film, it doesn't save the fourth film from a weak story. The story is almost non-existant, and I think if they tacked on 10 minutes to Phantasm III they could've done away with any need for a fourth film.
When I first started reading about Phantasm OblIVion I was under the impression it was going to give us a better understanding of how The Tall Man came to be, and that it would also give the series a sense of closure. We did get a glimpse of how The Tall Man came to be, but it's vague and you end up having more questions about The Tall Man when the film is over. And what's this about a sense of closure? Forget about it. The ending absolutely leaves room for a sequel, which I believe is what director/writer Don Coscarelli wants. I was left scratching my head in confusion after the film ended. It's obvious that Phantasm OblIVion left me disappointed. The only good part to this film was the never-before-seen footage (and that includes the Special Edition DVD/VHS/laserdisc) from the original Phantasm.
MGM presents Phantasm OblIVion in an anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen transfer. Included on side B of the DVD is a Pan & Scan presentation of the film. A few white specks appear during playback, but it's minimal. I did see a few minor print blemishes appear in the form of nicks, but it was also minimal. Image was relatively grain free, with the exception of some slight grain in a few of the nighttime scenes. The image was extremely crisp and clear throughout the majority of the film. Colors were solid, though some of the nighttime scenes were a bit too bright in the black backgrounds. Flesh tones appeared accurate.
Overall a great transfer, but it does have some minor problems. The fact that MGM put an anamorphic transfer on the DVD is great. Even being such a new film its still a bit of a surprise to me that an anamorphic transfer was created, or existed for Phantasm OblIVion. Great job done by MGM on this one.
Phantasm OblIVion is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. Sound was crisp and clear with no distortion. Rears and subwoofer had very minimal use, which isn't all that surprising given the lack of action scenes in the film.
All that's on the DVD is a promotional trailer. Too bad a commentary track with director Don Coscarelli couldn't have been done. Perhaps he could've explained some of the bizarreness of the film.
MGM did a great job in providing a high quality audio/video presentation. There are no extras to speak of besides a promotional trailer. The film itself is going to disappoint most, if not all Phantasm fans. But most, like myself, will probably still buy it for the never-before-seen footage from the original Phantasm. And at a price tag of $19.99 it's not going to break the bank. I'd recommend most people give this a rental first though. Some may be so disappointed in it they just can't justify the $19.99 price tag, never-before-seen footage or not.
Movie - C-
Image Quality - B
Sound - A-
Supplements - C
- Running time - 1 hour 30 minutes
- Rated R
- 1 Disc
- Chapter stops
- Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound
- French and Spanish subtitles