Phantasm OblIVion (DVD)

Phantasm OblIVion DVD (click for larger image)Reviewed by Uncle Creepy

Starring Michael Baldwin, Reggie Bannister, Angus Scrimm, Bill Thornbury, Bob Ivy

Directed by Don Coscarelli

Distributed by Anchor Bay Home Entertainment

Small miracles do occur. For ten years now the enigma that is Phantasm OblIVion has perplexed me. I love this series of movies. Each film in the franchise has brought fans (or should I say phans) lots of joy for decades, but this fourth entry? I just never got it. It confuses me. I’ve seen it several times, and not once have I ever fully grasped what was going on. Until now. Before we get into all that though, let’s start with a brief recap of the plot.

Phantasm OblIVion starts right where Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead left off with Reggie being pinned to the wall by a swarm of spheres, Mike on the run, and the Tall Man setting the gears of this latest (but hopefully not last) game into motion. One that will take the entire gang through numerous time portals on a quest to uncover all of the Tall Man’s secrets including his origin as sweet old Dr. Jebediah Morningside.

Phantasm OblIVion DVD (click for larger image)One of the strongest points of this flick is the usage of outtakes from Phantasm. According to Coscarelli the first cut of his original film came in around the three-hour mark, which gave him about an extra hour and a half of footage to use throughout the three sequels. This fourth film sees the most of it and uses it effectively as it slides effortlessly between time periods.

Edgar Allan Poe once wrote, “All that we see or seem. Is but a dream within a dream”, and that’s the best summation anyone could ever give to this franchise. It’s dreamlike. Nightmarish. What’s real? What’s not? It’s a hell of a trip, man!

Anchor Bay has finally delivered the final piece of the puzzle that I needed to enjoy this film — a commentary! Having Don Coscarelli, Reggie Bannister, and Angus Scrimm on hand to detail the ins and outs of the movie made me garner a new appreciation for it. It’s not just the awkward child in the bunch anymore. I feel so much better. From there we get about ten minutes of behind-the-scenes footage from the shoot and the original promo trailer used to market the film back in ’98. Even with just these few things included, this package stands head and shoulders above MGM’s original DVD release in which we only got the trailer.

Bless you, Anchor Bay. Bless your horror loving hearts. My Phantasm experience now seems a hell of a lot more complete. At least for now as the possibility of a part five was teased during the commentary track. If only Universal would stop being tight-asses so that Phantasm II can be released on DVD. Give it to the Bay, guys! They’ll know how to treat it, and it’s been a long time coming!

Special Features

  • Audio commentary with director Don Coscarelli, Reggie Bannister, and Angus Scrimm
  • Behind-the-scenes featurette
  • Promo trailer


    3 1/2 out of 5

    Special Features

    3 out of 5

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  • Steve Barton

    You're such an inspiration for the ways that I will never, ever choose to be.

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    • NMEwithin

      This was by far my favorite of the franchise. I always felt it was made to be confusing on purpose. One definition of the word “Phantasm” is “An illusory mental image”, which is exactly what I think Coscarelli was going for with this. Is it real or just an illusion? Is it really happening?

    • MagusMaleficus

      I need to pick this one up for the commentary, if it really makes sense of things. I, too, have been confused by this flick’s plot for years.