Phantasm IV: Oblivion (1998)

phantasm iv oblivion poster 1998 movie
6.0 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 6/10

More big-picture plot driven

Miss the weirdness for weirdness sake of the earlier films

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Phantasm IV:  Oblivion

Studio:  Starway International Inc.

Genre(s):  Horror/Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Release Date(s):  July 31, 1998 (Fantasia International Film Festival)/October 13, 1998 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R

phantasm iv oblivion killer cop

That is one devoted lawman…

Mike (A. Michael Baldwin) is gone, and Reggie (Reggie Bannister) is out to find him…even as the Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) and his agents continue their nefarious plans.  As Mike question the recent revelations by the Tall Man, he wonders if there is more to his past than he ever expected.  The origin of the Tall Man will be revealed, and Mike, Reggie, and Jody (Bill Thornbury) might have to face their pasts together!

Written and directed by Don Coscarelli, Phantasm IV:  Oblivion (stylized as Phantasm:  OblIVion) is a horror fantasy action thriller.  Following Phantasm III:  Lord of the Dead in 1994, the film received mixed reviews but like most of the series garnered a cult following.

I remember watching Phantasm IV:  Oblivion in college back-to-back with Phantasm III…and thinking “what the hell?”  Granted a lot of the Phantasm series was a “what the hell?” type series, but Phantasm III and Phantasm IV really went into the mythos of the Tall Man and changed a lot of the tone of the series.

Mike’s on another one of his wacky adventures!

While Phantasm III was bigger in the horror-comedy aspect, Phantasm IV dives deep into the sci-fi horror.  Phantasm has always been almost nonsense, but this volume tries to start to build an actual mythos from the nonsense.  It works sometimes, but other times, it feels a bit clunky.  The original Phantasm (and Phantasm II for that matter) are just crazy with little logic, and it makes the series fun…the logic applied to Phantasm IV takes away from the weirdness for weirdness’ sake.

The movie has the classic cast returning.  The film is more of a “Reggie” movie than the previous entry with Reggie in pursuit of Mike who is on the run.  Reggie Bannister seems to take his style from Bruce Campbell’s performance of Ash in the Evil Dead series.  A. Michael Baldwin has a strange role as the transforming Mike, but once again Angus Scrimm steals the show as the Tall Man (who gets a name…Jebediah Morningside).

The Tall Man just wants to help!

The movie’s budget is bigger than the original film, but sometimes bigger isn’t always better.  I feel that the Coscarelli was forced to be more experimental with Phantasm and managed to pull off a lot of the effects.  The effects are still rather low budget in Phantasm IV, but they are more polished, and I like the rawness of the original film.  One good aspect of this entry is that a lot of unused footage from Phantasm was found and used to flesh out the characters.  It is odd (as a fan of the first film) to see so much new from the period in which Phantasm was shot.

Phantasm IV:  Oblivion is set-up for a follow-up film, but the movie didn’t really get that payout.  When it came out and I watched it, I planned to see another Phantasm and “learn the truth”…since this entry is more story driven.  Unfortunately, it was almost two decades later before answers were provided (even if they weren’t entirely satisfying).  Phantasm IV:  Oblivion is followed by Phantasm:  Ravager in 2016.

Related Links:

Phantasm (1979)

Phantasm II (1988)

Phantasm III:  Lord of the Dead (1994)

Phantasm:  Ravager (2016)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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