Thursday, June 9, 2011

Film #67: Phantasm IV: Oblivion (1998)

Brace your precious ear drums – we are about to sing. “Silver Balls! Silver Balls!
It’s killin’ time in the movie.
See them drill…
Fill in for sil(icone)…
It’s killing time in Part IV!”

What’s with the holiday jingle you may ask? Well, it’s because watching a Phantasm movie in the RDHP is like opening a much anticipated present tucked under the tree. It looks pretty, with its bow and promise of nonsense. Thing is, what you thought was a Super Nintendo usually turned out , once opened, to be a box of socks. Same goes the world of Phantasm.

But honestly, we didn’t expect much going into this fourth and final chapter of the series. Three previous movies have beaten us into submission; conditioning us to expect suckdom. Lesson for life, kids: best not to get your hopes up.

Phantasm IV: Oblivion picks up right after Part 3 ended. Man-boy Mike travels through time and dimensions trying to kill his lifelong nemesis – the Tall Man. An alien bent on turning all of humanity into shrunken murderous minions, the Tall Man warns Mike that he shouldn’t resist his fate of becoming one of the Tall Man’s followers. Meanwhile Mike’s friend, ice cream man turned vigilante Reggie, tries to track down Mike and help destroy the Tall Man. Also helping in the battle is Mike’s brother Jody, who in a previous film was turned into one of the Tall Man’s silver kill-drill balls but defected back to the good side.

At the end of the last film, the Tall Man had injected Mike’s head with one of his balls (huhuhuh – seriously!) hoping to control the “boy.” The surgery left Mike with the ability to summon the magic interdimensional portals used by the Tall Man. After taking a quick spin through space and time, Mike discovers the Tall Man wasn’t always a bad guy, but was once a soft spoken southern mortician with a penchant for electrical engineering and investigation of the great beyond.

Mike devises a plan – round up Jody and Reggie, travel back in time before the Tall Man turns into a blood thirsty alien, and prevent the ongoing world destruction by killing Tall Man in the past.

That’s just crazy enough to work!
Or is it?
Find out in the 1998 film series conclusion, “Phantasm IV: Oblivion.”

RDHP Ratings and Review

C-Rating: 1.0
Chris Dimick phantasms:

“A nonsensical ending to a nonsensical movie series. Phantasm IV never should have been made. We had some fun, Phantasm, the highlight being Part 2 where ponytailed Reggie and man-boy Mike made a great kick ass investigative renegade team hunting the Tall Man. But then there was that whole Home Alone rip off in Part 3, and that had me thinking the worst for Part 4. Boy did you meet my expectations.

I’m sick of this whole “oh, we made this one for the fans” excuse when horror movie sequels don’t connect with a mainstream audience. This line was given by the series longtime writer, producer, director Don Coscarelli when critics trashed this installment.

Fine, make a movie for the fans, but make a good movie for them. Don’t create yet another piece of shit sequel to a mediocre horror movie franchise and do it under the guise of “being fan-oriented.”

These endless horror movie sequels are made for one lone reason – to make some easy money. It is very condescending to horror fans. “Oh, don’t worry about the plot, or the acting, or the effects. These morons will see anything with the word (Saw, Halloween, Puppetmaster, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, …of the Dead, Poltergeist, Final Destination, [insert popular original horror movie title here])! And best of all, we’ll make millions for zero effort!”

This attitude reeked so strong from Phantasm IV I could see stink lines hover out of my viewing screen.

Horror fans are partly to blame too. After all, it is continual financial feeding of these throwaway sequels that keeps the rats coming up on our porch. I’m just as guilty as the next bloodhound. As easy as these sequels are to make, they are just as easy to decide to watch. You get to see old beloved characters do their old tricks. You get taken back to those first few original films that scared you so. It is a nostalgia trip if anything. Problem is, that is usually all one gets out of these… and that fun doesn’t last beyond the first reel.

The horror community should stop mindlessly throwing their week’s paycheck on the ticket counter (the going cost of a movie ticket these days) for pointless horror sequels and demand more from producers. Don’t complain that the kitchen feeds you dogcrap then line up with your mouth open. When the next Final Destination movie comes out (occurring in August) don’t see it unless you know it is good (never know, it could be). And if it isn’t, avoid the temptation.

This phenomenon is like getting drunk and dialing up an old flame. You know it is a bad idea, and you are going to regret it like hell in the morning, but man if you could just hear their voice one more time maybe it will be like the good old days. It never is.

N-Rating: 0.3
Nick Rich phantasms:
"Oddly enough, looking back, I rated the first movie in this series higher than Chris did! Little did I know how the Tall Man would come to haunt my RDHP viewing experience... had I known, perhaps I would have rated that first film differently or tried to stop the madness that followed that first nonsensical viewing... oh well, regrets are like roses on Valentines day - expensive and in the end meaningless.

Speaking of regrets, if there is one thing Phantasm IV reminded me of, it is that I can regret watching a film (or an entire series for that matter)... not that I had forgotten, mind you, but this film fully refreshed this eternal cinematic truth in my gray matter. Speaking of gray matter, this is the first Phantasm to not have a silver ball spew out a brain! This series has little going for it, but the fun associated with Jack Lalanne'ing a brain was at least a fun distraction. To add to the 'magic' there were literally 5 actors (not including midget monsters) in the film and the sets were as sparse as humanly possible... the film just felt like it was on life support (fitting considering it is hooked up to an IV in the title).

If you're looking for satisfaction of any sort I would recommend steering clear of Phantasm IV. It only served to dish up confusion (which isn't abnormal) and contradicted the answers the previous film had given us about the story (I suppose the filmmakers regretted giving us a clear answer in part III); which is extremely annoying considering how precious a commodity answers are in this series!

I've already given this film too much credit by writing this much of a review, so I will now retreat into prose as poor as the Phantasm series as an appropriate send off:

Profit not the weary who look upon your face but
Haunted are the years gone by with the memory of time spent upon you.
Analyzing the sanity of your existence will only bring the sweet
Nectar of insanity.
Test not your bravery by delving into this world,
Atrophy of the mind will be your only reward.
Silence all prayers that you can unlearn what has infected the
Marrow of your bones... we are all as lost as ice cream men.

Phantasm IV, oh how I hope against hope that you are the last time this storyline will stain my consciousness! About the only thing that could tempt me back into your horrid arms would be if the Tall Man switched from silver to feline balls:

The Skinny: Check this flick out if you have a friend who is obsessed with the series and you write a blog together... otherwise, I'd steer clear.

Things We Learned From Phantasm IV: Oblivion:
-Nick had tears of joy as the final credits ran.
-Ice cream men can turn into warriors.
-Chris hopes they come out with Phantasm V in 2011.
-Stealing is cute.
-Phantasm producers have access to a time machine… and used it to film Part IV.
-Ghost robots are the most annoying type of robots.
-Attempting to save animals will only lead to your death.
-You have to be a “special kind of stupid” to hike in Death Valley.
-Mutant blood doesn’t taste good.
-Ponytailed men have a secret code word for their hairstyle: “Pones.”

Quote of the Viewing:

[While slaying one of the Tall Man’s monsters, bad-ass ice cream man Reggie ends up with the beast puking yellow ooze into his mouth. Reggie freaks out.]

Chris: (in Bill Cosby voice) “You gotz to eat that Vanilla Jello Puddin’. Mmm mmm MMM!”

RDHP Says:
Goodbye Phantasm

We’ve been through four movies together, watching Mike, Reggie and Jody battle the evil Tall Man and save the world from mutant midget-dom in the Phantasm series. There were a lot of flying balls drilling into skulls, many near bare breasts, and an uncountable number of head shakes from Nick and Chris. What started as a joke viewing turned into the official horror franchise of the Rich Dimick Horror Project. Save for Part 2, the rest of the Phantasm films didn’t break a 2.0 rating from the RDHP.

Though awful, awful films, at least good times were had ripping on the absurdity of it all. And if anything, Nick’s screaming emails of “not another one!” every time Chris put a Phantasm movie on the RDHP schedule made it all worthwhile.

Enough with the negativity. Below, we list the things we liked the most about the Phantasm movies; or at least the things we will never forget.

Flying Kill Balls
They dice, they slice, they drill your head and shoot out your brains. Very creative, very gory, very fun.

Reggie the Ice Cream Man
Who knew slinging cream and slinging guns went together so well?

Makeshift four-barrel shotgun
So simple, yet so refined… and deadly to Tall Man goblins. This weapon made gun nuts out of the RDHP.

Random Damsels
There was one in every movie. A trashy-sexy damsel in distress that would inevitably turn into one of Tall Man’s killer creatures. First Reggie would try to kiss the chicks, then he would try to kill them. The circle of life.

Make Your Own Plot
Even the ending of Part IV made little sense and was entirely open to interpretation. But, that is fitting considering the plots of the Phantasm movies never really made all that much sense. The theater of imagination had to take over, and that is fun too.

Skullet Ponytails
Oh how they were rocked in this series. Rocked like a hurricane of greasy hair.

Tall Man-isms
He had some great one liners in this flick. But really, all he needed to utter was one word to enthrall us: “Boyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!”

RDHP Presents:
Other Professions for the Tall Man
With the Phantasm series over, and the Tall Man seeming to give up on world domination at the end of Phantasm IV, looks like this big guy needs a job. Below, we offer some suggestions for alternative gigs. Good luck out there Tall Man. It is a tough market!

NBA player
Even with his personality, he’d be less annoying than LeBron.

Grocery Store Stocker
Old people wanting those Bush beans near the back of the highest shelf would just love him.

Freak Show Exhibit
Not for his height, but for his yellow blood.

How’s the weather up there?

Graffe impersonator
Gotta be a living to be made in there somewhere, right?

1 comment:

  1. Just received a payment for $500.

    Many times people don't believe me when I tell them about how much money you can earn taking paid surveys at home...

    So I show them a video of myself getting paid over $500 for taking paid surveys to set the record straight once and for all.