Retrospective: From PHANTASM (1979) To PHANTASM IV: OBLIVION (1998) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Friday, 28 March 2014

Retrospective: From PHANTASM (1979) To PHANTASM IV: OBLIVION (1998)

It's been 16 years since legendary horror filmmaker Don Coscarelli last made PHANTASM IV: OBLIVION back in 1998, which was thought to be the final installment in the PHANTASM series. But this year, Don Coscarelli has finally announced (via that the long-awaited fifth and final PHANTASM series -- titled as PHANTASM: RAVAGER: -- has completed principle photography. Meanwhile, here are the first teaser poster (see above) as well as the trailer below:

No release date has been set but while die-hard fans of PHANTASM series are waiting for PHANTASM: RAVAGER, here are the retrospective of the previous four PHANTASM movies that stretched way back in 1979:


The then 21-year-old Don Coscarelli was already a tour de force young filmmaker when he made a low-budget horror movie called PHANTASM back in 1979. One of the most innovative horror movies in the 1970s, PHANTASM was particularly unforgettable for its now-legendary iconic character, The Tall Man, played brilliantly by the lanky 6' 4" Angus Scrimm. The other one of course, was the shiny silver sphere where it flies through the air and sprout sharp spikes that can plunges into the forehead of an unsuspecting victim, and then drills the brain out with a jet of blood. At the time of its release, PHANTASM was a bizarre, unique and witty horror genre that has the fever-dream quality throughout the movie. That fever-dream quality was of course, paved way for future movies like Wes Craven's A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET in 1984 and many others.


It took Don Coscarelli nine years to return for the much-anticipated sequel after the cult favourite of 1979's PHANTASM. Unfortunately, upon its release, PHANTASM II was greeted with terribly mixed response. Not to mention that the sequel was surprisingly dull and slow-moving. Still, Angus Scrimm's iconic portrayal as the Tall Man remained as terrifying as ever and there are a couple of memorable grisly moments involving the flying silver sphere with improved gore effects. 


After the lacklustre 1988's sequel of PHANTASM II, Don Coscarelli made a satisfying comeback in PHANTASM III: LORD OF THE DEAD. Easily the best PHANTASM movie since the original 1979 version, this third installment was considerably more fun and dramatic. Apart from Angus Scrimm's likewise memorable portrayal as the Tall Man, PHANTASM III is filled with enough offbeat characters (e.g. Reggie Bannister as the bald and horny Reggie and Gloria Lynne Henry as the Rambo-like Rocky) and surprisingly excellent technical credits (especially given its low-budget cost). The gore effects (the one that involved with the flying silver spheres) are more creative, while the stunts work (including a spectacular hearse crash) was top notch.


Reportedly the final installment (which was not) in the PHANTASM series, PHANTASM IV: OBLIVION was a huge disappointment, considering how Don Coscarelli had done a good job on PHANTASM III: LORD OF THE DEAD back in 1994. The plot for this fourth installment actually had potential, especially the way Coscarelli chose to explore the origin of the Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) way back in the mid-1800s where he began as an undertaker who entered an experimental rift and emerged as an insidious monster. But too bad the overall movie was terribly lacklustre and slow-moving. Of all the PHANTASM series, this one was easily the weakest entry.


Grimm said...

I've been a fan of the first film for a long, long time now. The sequel is great in my eyes, but 3 and 4 just drop the ball. I'm of the belief that if you can't make a sequel right, don't make it. It's obvious how half-assed the last two films were. So I'm looking forward to seeing the new film, in hopes that it either ends the series right (and gives us some damn answers) or that they at least use the new film as a means to start a whole new line of sequels.

Great post!

caseymoviemania said...

Thanks a lot, Grimm :)

Anyway, you are right. Either make a proper sequel or don't make at all. But whatever it is, I've been looking forward for this fifth installment. Hopefully Don Coscarelli ends his "Phantasm" movie with satisfying conclusion once and for all.