Written by: Michael Den Boer on August 9th, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: USA, October 13th, 1998
Director: Don Coscarelli
Writer: Don Coscarelli
Cast: A. Michael Baldwin, Reggie Bannister, Bill Thornbury, Heidi Marnhout, Angus Scrimm
DVD released: August 26th, 2008
Approximate running time: 90 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 English
DVD Release: Anchor Bay
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $14.95
In 1979 Don Coscarelli would write and directed the first of four Phantasm films. The three sequels being Phantasm II, Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead and Phantasm IV: Oblivion. At the core of each of these films is a story about a young man named Michael Pearson who is tormented by a dimension traveling being known as the Tall Man. Helping Michael is his quest to destroy the tall man is his brother Jody and friend Reggie “The Ice Cream Man”.
Phantasm like most movie franchises has a built in audience that has seen the previous films in the series. Plot wise Phantasm IV: Oblivion picks up right where Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead left off. Luckily the story is able to stand on its own even if you haven’t seen any of the three previous Phantasm films. One of Phantasm IV: Oblivion’s greatest assets are the incorporation of scenes shot for the first film that were never used. The plot in simplistic and at times abstract narrative suits the films dream like quality. The film’s ending while ambiguous leaves it up to the viewer to decide what really happened.
The one thing that is lacking in Phantasm IV: Oblivion that is present in its three predecessors is a menacing aura to the Tall Man character. Only one shot with the Tall Man builds up a sense of dread. It is a scene where he walks down an abandon city street after Michael. Even the level of violence is well below the previous entries in this series. My favorite moments in the film are the scenes from the past with Dr. Jebediah Morningside before he becomes the Tall Man. These scenes are also the Angus Scrimm’s best acting in the whole series. Director Don Coscarelli does a superb job with Phantasm IV: Oblivion especially with the limited resources he had to work with. Ultimately despite its flaws Phantasm IV: Oblivion is a satisfying ending to the Phantasm series that answers some questions while leaving others open for interpretation.
Phantasm IV: Oblivion is presented in an anamorphic widescreen that retains the film’s original aspect ratio. The source material used for this release from Anchor Bay looks flawless. There are no problems with edge enhancement and print damage is none existent. Colors vivid and flesh tones look natural. Black levels are strong throughout and details look razor sharp.
This release comes with one audio option a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix in English. English subtitles for the hearing impaired have been included. The audio mix is clear, evenly balanced and dynamic.
Extras for this release include a promo trailer and a nine minute behind the scenes documentary for Phantasm IV: Oblivion. The main extra for this release is an audio commentary with director Don Coscarelli and actors Reggie Bannister and Angus Scrimm. Overall the commentary is a lively affair with Don Coscarelli dominating most of the discussion. Also included with this release are trailers for other films currently available on DVD from Anchor Bay. Phantasm IV: Oblivion was previously released by MGM on DVD eight years ago and this new release from Anchor Bay is a must have purchase for fans who missed out on the previous release.