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Phantasm IV: Oblivion

review by Justin Meyers


Starring Angus Scrimm, Reggie Bannister, A. Michael Baldwin

Studio: MGM

Directed by Don Coscarelli


Retail Price: 19.98

Features: Theatrical Trailer, Featurette, Production Notes

Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, 1.33:1 Standard, 5.1 Dolby Digital English, English Captions, Chapter Search

Brace yourself for a journey beyond your worst nightmares as the Phantasm saga reaches its terrifying climax in a horrific explosion of gut-wrenching battles, lethal flying spheres and a spine-tingling quest to discover, once and for all, the secret of the mysterious Tall Man. Including outtake footage excised from the bone-chilling original, Phantasm: Oblivion is a nerve-shattering thriller from start to finish! (Editor's Note: Uh, for someone who didn't like the movie, is this from the box?)

For years, the Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) has waged a gruesome war against humanity, slowly populating the world with his undead legions. To stop the horrifying onslaught, two determined heroes, Michael (A. Michael Baldwin) and Reggie (Reggie Bannister), hurtle themselves through a gateway in the time-space continuum to unearth a vital clue that may put an end to the horror. But time is running out as the Tall Man amasses his dark army for a blood-curdling final assault in which Michael and Reggie must fight not only for their own lives, but the lives of all mankind.

All right, here is the point I tell you all what I think of this movie. I guess I haven't been clear so far. I am not a fan of the original, maybe that makes me biased? I haven't even watched the other sequels. I don't understand the movies at all! It is about a man chasing a tall man through time and space, trying to stop him from populating the earth with the undead. Does anyone else see something wrong here? Would someone actually want to make this movie?

I'm not knocking it. I'm sure there are some fans out there, but I don't see how they got away with making 4 movies like this. This is probably some of the worst writing and acting I have ever seen. Being the fourth in the series I guess that is expected. With all that said and done I think there is some good direction here and I did like some of the locations.

Phantasm IV is presented in both anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) and pan and scan (1.33:1). I think the video quality is pretty good. There is a little smudge on a few seconds of film but it was hardly noticeable. The colors and flesh tones are bright and clear. They really give the image great depth and a realistic feel to it. The colors are really good in some of the desert scenes. All of the darks are perfect; they have the feel of the way a horror movie should be. There was no artifact or pixelation either. For a bad movie the video presentation is very good. At least from what I saw, I could have been sleeping during the picture problems. Just kidding, I watched it all.

Like the video, the audio is pretty good too. There is a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. While not the best I've ever heard, it does have some good points. All of the dialogue and effects are very clear. When those annoying silver balls float on screen it gives out a hum from all of the speakers. There are many explosions (too many) that benefit from the surround sound too. For the most part the rear channels are hardly used. While this is not the greatest 5.1 track, it is pretty good and a highlight of this disc.

The only extra on Phantasm IV is the promotional trailer. While it is very bad video and audio, it is pretty good. It shows some of the best clips of the movie with only music playing and no voices. I think the studio made it to promote the movie before it was finished, and to build up press for the film. The trailer is presented in a non-anamorphic 1.85:1 format. A few more extras like a commentary or a special effects featurette would have been a great addition to this disc.

The menus though are excellent. They are probably the best part of the disc. It has great animation and sound. In the center of the main menu is a clip from the movie, and around the clip is some creepy blue fog. There are also some of those silver spheres flying across the screen as you pick your destination. The only complaint I have about the menus is that the words are hard to see because they fade into the blue fog. If all menus were this good, I would be so happy. I do have a concern though that they would waste some great menus on a bad film like this.

For the fans of the series I recommend watching it. Just because I didn't like it, doesn't mean you wont. There must be some pros to buying this movie. If there are email me and let me know, because I have no ideas. While not liking the movie, I actually liked the DVD. The video and audio quality are pretty good, and did I mention the menus?

This promises to be the last film in the series and can I mention I hope so. It does have an ambiguous ending that could probably be made into a sequel, but lets not give them any ideas. This is not the best DVD out there (by far) but if you are a fan, go rent it and then sit down and ask yourself why╔I'm just kidding! I don't like hate mail!

(.5/5, NOT included in final score)




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