Phantasm IV: Oblivion

Going into this, I’d heard how even die-hard fans of the Phantasm series couldn’t make heads or tails of this one. Not being a die-hard fan myself (I’d seen the first and third movies, but I hadn’t exactly studied them), I knew I wasn’t in for a riveting story. So, I resolved just to enjoy the sheer surreal-ness of the film, something which has been a hallmark of all the Phantasms I’ve seen.

 So I can’t really tell you what happens, story-wise, here. But here are some images that stuck with me:

– Silver spheres burrowing into – and out of – people’s skulls

– Jawas from Star Wars, if the Jawas had been horribly burned and showed their faces

 – An unkillable cop puking runny yellow pus into a guy’s mouth

– A Civil War battle scene, just out of nowhere

– A crop of giant tuning forks growing in the desert

– Time travel or inter-dimensional travel or some weird hybrid of both

Unfortunately, none of this ever really strings together as a coherent story, even with the copious amounts of flashback footage from the earlier Phantasm movies. The movie keeps you off-balance by bringing characters back, changing them into other forms, and then making them disappear on a whim. We shoot back and forth in time with no rhyme or reason. The only real point I can see here is the ill-advised attempt to explain who the mysterious Tall Man (Angus Scrimm, who’s always been the heart and blackened soul of the series) really is. To me, the fact that we never really knew his motivation, or even who (or what) he was, was one of the things that worked about the Phantasm series. Now that’s gone and, frankly, there’s not much left to keep me interested.

 This is worth seeing if all you ask of a horror movie is some bizarre imagery and a little gore. Otherwise, spend your 90 minutes elsewhere.

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