Phantasm OblIVion Don Coscarelli

Following reissues of the first and third Phantasms last year, Anchor Bay presents the fourth instalment, the amusingly spelled OblIVion. (It’s a shame that the fourth film’s precedes the second one, which is currently tied up in legal limbo by Universal, with no plans to release.) Made four years after the third, OblIVion once again brings back Mike the "boy” (A. Michael Baldwin), ghostly brother Jody (Bill Thornbury) and ice-cream man Reggie (Reggie Bannister) to battle the immortal Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) and stop his harvest from reaching fruition. Mike is now a slave to the Tall Man but ventures out on his own to find discover his origins and nip the evil in the bud by travelling through time. Reggie, meanwhile, is on the hunt for Mike, dodging the drilling spheres, a possessed cop and a hitchhiker who unluckily gets spheres as breast implants. Ouch. Yeah, it’s not all grim like the original but Coscarelli sticks with his signature mix of fantasy, gore and comedy, getting deeper into the possibilities this franchise left wide open. The writer/director often gets in over his head with some convoluted ideas but somehow Phantasm doesn’t lose itself in the same ridiculousness other horror sequels fell into quite easily, keeping its head held high while satisfactorily advancing the plot. A lot of this has to do with flashbacks utilising unused footage from the original, which Coscarelli ties in nicely with the third sequel, especially the final scene. Rumours circulated that this is the uncut version but I see no hard evidence of such a thing. Unfortunately, there’s little new to this edition as well. The same commentary with Coscarelli, Bannister and Scrimm from the original DVD release is recycled, but it’s still hilarious to hear of Reggie getting "gang balled” by the army of spheres. The "behind-the-scenes” look is also nothing new. Hopefully, the promise of a fifth Phantasm, set for next year, will help inspire a nice box set with even more from the vault. (Anchor Bay)