Horror Movie Review: Phantasm IV: Oblivion (1998)

Keeping with what we expect from the series, Phantasm IV: Oblivion begins exactly where Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead finished off. You can read our reviews of the first movie here, the second movie here & the third one here.

Mike (A. Michael Baldwin) has escaped the Tall Man’s clutches but Reggie (Reggie Bannister) is trapped by his silver spheres. It looks like this might be it for the once upon a time ice-cream seller but surprisingly the Tall Man lets him go. Why? Well, the Tall Man says it’s so “they can play…one last game”.

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Reggie is then contacted by Jody (Bill Thornbury) who insists that he must go after Mike. Reggie isn’t particularly keen seeing as Mike left him to the Tall Man but Jody manages to convince him that he should. Considering what they’ve been through, Reggie knows it’s the right thing to do & that the Tall Man has affected Mike.

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On route Reggie meets Jennifer (Heidi Marnhout) & once again tries to get laid but ends up having to kill her as she turns out to be a minion of the Tall Man. In another great Phantasm effect, she reveals two spheres hidden inside her boobs!

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Elsewhere, Mike decides to force the Tall Man into a final confrontation but ends up going through a portal & meeting Jebediah Morningside (Angus Scrimm), the man who would become the Tall Man. This meeting is simple amazing as Jebediah is kind & friendly. Mike realises that if he stops Jebediah going through one of the portals he can stop the creation of the Tall Man!

However, the Tall Man isn’t going to let that happen!

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Phantasm IV: Oblivion is the best in the series so far. So exciting, so filled with answers while giving us even more questions…this series just keeps giving.

Here we get more dimensional portal travelling than ever before & it allows to us to see the worlds that the Tall Man has devastated before. That we get to travel with characters we’ve been watching for 4 films already (3 in the case of some) just makes it even better. The film adds strains on the relationships because of the Tall Man’s influence but in the end the bonds that connect them is all that matters.

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The lives of Mike & Reggie have been torn apart by the Tall Man so finishing it is all they can do. Any attempt to move on with their lives just fails. This is their lives now & they’ll either stop him…or die trying.

Written & directed by Don Coscarelli again (all 4 films), the love & devotion to this series shines through. Every plot point steps the overall story forward in some way, be it character driven or world changing. Here, we actually get an origin story to the Tall Man, something that rarely works or is needed but is excellently handled here. It doesn’t detract from the mystery because details about why & how are still left out. We see Jebediah Morningside step through a dimensional portal then when he comes back, he’s the Tall Man!

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Who or what made him that way? There is still so much mystery surrounding it.

Considering Phantasm IV has the lowest budget of the lot, it looks fantastic. The world is seemingly more & more desolate. It’s not got lots of gore with the series more & more leaning towards sci-fi horror rather than horror outright but it’s still got plenty of great eye-pleasing effects.

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The cast continue to excel in their roles. Roles that they could probably do in their sleep now but continue to throw their all into. It is both heartening & terrifying to see Angus Scrimm look at you with kind eyes when playing Jebediah!

A scene where Mike dreams about what life could have been like had the Tall Man not arrived is utterly spell-binding in how emotionally weighted it is. This is a movie that you don’t want to end & surprisingly it ends a little differently to the previous movies. Not so much a cliff-hanger, more just leaving room for continuation.

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You couldn’t watch Phantasm IV: Oblivion on its own, that’s for sure. You’d think it was utter nonsense but as the 4th movie in this excellent horror series it absolutely excels. Characters you deeply care about, a plot line that is so fantastical but constantly moves forward & enough sci-fi & horror goodness to easily keep you entertained.

It would be 18 years until we finally got the final Phantasm film. Hold on tight, it’s going to get seriously emotional.

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Phantasm IV: Oblivion
  • The Final Score - 9/10
User Review
6.48/10 (4 votes)

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