I was too busy to write yesterday, but I did watch these movies on nights 9 and 10 of my 31 nights of horror marathon.
Like the previous sequel, both of these movies pick up right where the preceding one ended, giving us one continuous story.
Both movies feature Mike, Reggie and The Tall Man, with characters from the previous movies either dying or just going their own way. Oh and Mikes brother Jody comes back from the dead… sort of, maybe.
Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead
So, the third film actually sidelines Mike for most of it. He is captured early on by The Tall Man and much of the movie is “Reggie to the rescue”, collecting new allies as he goes. Tim, an orphan who would scare even Kevin McCalister with his boobytrapped home and Rocky, the only woman in the franchise, so far, who feels like more than just a damsel in distress or object of lust for Reggie (she’s that too, but she also kicks ass)
Episode three starts to delve more into the mystery of The Tall Man and what he’s doing. Not much, but we do see how the Sentinel Spheres are made. It also expands on the previous movies giving people psychic abilities, now The Tall Man has telekinesis.
Even though this movie came out 6 years after the previous one, it feels less well thought out. The idea of having peoples shrunken brains inside the spheres is cool and all, but how come we never see any of them when the spheres get wrecked? And when we see an open sphere, there’s just enough room for the brain, not the grabbing knives, the drill straw or any way for the victims blood to do that spraying out the back bit. Also, if they wanted to capture the psychics, why did the henchman in number two try and cremate Liz? Why do some of the zombies retain free will and some don’t? How come some zombies can be killed with bodily trauma, but others will even have their body parts come after you?
The movie is fun to watch, but does not appear to be nearly as polished or planned as the first two.
Phantasm IV: Oblivion
This is the first movie to break the formula of road trip, followed by showdown in a mortuary. It delves much more into the history of The Tall Man (we get a name! Maybe) and has Mike moving through time to try and stop him… maybe.
The thing about this story is we have the lines “It’s all in his head” and “Seeing is easy. Understanding… well that takes a little more time”. It is a possibility that Mike is being made to see things that are not real, or that this is all a fantasy. We do see him in a psychiatric hospital in the second movie and he is in a coma for two years in the third. It’s also possible Jody is referring to something being physically in Mikes skull.
Oblivion is the most ambitious story wise since the very first movie, but also significantly more frustrating. Not because it is hard to follow, but because it ultimately tells us very little about The Tall Man and his plans. Yes, we meet a man named Jebediah, who is obsessed with death and is performing experiments relating to dimensional travel, and while he looks like The Tall Man, the person who goes through the portal and the one that comes back seem very different. Is this the same guy, but transformed by experience or is something piloting his body around, or just looks like him? We get teased with information but ultimately learn very little. It’s as annoying as trying to watch Attack on Titan.
But the worst, the WORST is the freaking cliffhanger ending. The others ended similarly, but nowhere near as bad, and at least their main stories were concluded before the final few minutes. It must have been even more painful for fans of the series, who watched this when it first came out and had to wait EIGHTEEN FREAKING YEARS before getting any kind of closure. Fortunately I don’t have to wait as long, I’m going to watch Phantasm: Ravager tonight.