For the next 31 days, we here at Adamantium Bullet will be reviewing one horror flick a day leading up to Halloween. Each one will be horrific, terrifying, chilling, pulse-pounding, or flat-out awful. All endured in honor of the season. Expect SPOILERS. Welcome to Adamantium Bullet’s 31 DAYS OF HORROR.
PLOT: As The Tall Man’s (Angus Scrimm) unholy harvest reaches its crescendo, Mike (A. Michael Baldwin), Reggie (Reggie Bannister), and Jody (Bill Thornbury) will converge across portals of time and dimensions of the undead to uncover his startling secrets. Flying spheres will be unleashed. Ice cream vendors will reload. But will the ultimate nightmare end where it all began? The final game now begins.
BODY COUNT: 18 …but as with all the ph-ilms in the PHANTASM phran-chise, almost all of the kills are reversed when The Tall Man takes the corpses, pumps them full of yellow gunk, smooshes them down, and transforms them into evil Jawa/Minion/Dwarf/Lurkers. Such is the nature of this phran-chise. That said, the BODY COUNT is as follows: The Tall Man leisurely runs over a dog while behind the wheel of his hearse, a Highway Patrolman dies in a car explosion, and a Demon Trooper (Bob Ivy) is staked with his own nightstick and blown up. Mike, using his newfound telekinetic abilities, squishes a scorpion with a rock and a Jawa/Minion/Dwarf/Lurker with a boulder, and later stabs Jody #1 with a dagger and Jody #2 under the chin with a buzz-saw version of the Silver Sphere. Reggie blasts five Jawa/Minion/Dwarf/Lurkers with his four-barrel shotgun, stabs one with a switchblade, bashes Jennifer (Heidi Marnhouts) and one of the Silver Spheres with a sledgehammer, and kills another Sphere using a tuning fork. The Tall Man is blown up (not that it matters, he’s just one of many Tall Men) and is Michael is presumed dead after the Silver Sphere in his head (don’t ask) is forcibly removed.
MOST MEMORABLE KILL: The death of the Demon Trooper, even though his character has absolutely no bearing on the overall plot of PHANTASM IV, was pretty fun. No matter how much punishment Reggie doled out on the guy, he just kept coming. It played out like Jason Voorhees from the FRIDAY THE 13th franchise decided to drop in on PHANTASM for a bit.
NAKEDNESS: A good bit of scattered cleavage and leg from the lovely Heidi Marnhout early on …and then “Boob Balls” when her and Reggie hit the motel. And by that, we mean, Heidi drops her top to reveal two Silver Spheres have dug into her chest and replaced her breasts. Easily one of the disturbing moments in the PHANTASM phran-chise.
SIGNATURE MOMENT: As with all the PHANTASM films, there are a lot of SIGNATURE MOMENTS. Not wanting to narrow it down to just one, here are our personal favorites from PHANTASM IV: The CG Sphere Swarm, the brief glimpse of what could’ve been with our main trio (SPOILER ALERT: Mike, Jody, and Reggie hang out at the beach, drinking beer and jamming out on their guitars), the flashbacks to the original PHANTASM, the flashbacks to the deleted scenes of the original PHANTASM, the Demon Trooper, Jennifer’s surprise, the double hanging of Mike and The Tall Man, the introduction of Jebediah Morningside (the man who becomes The Tall Man), the return of the Fortune Teller from the original PHANTASM (who may or may not be the sister of Morningside), The Tall Man marching up Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles without a soul in sight, Reggie suiting up, Mike portal hopping, the buzz-saw Sphere, and Mike’s homemade Silver Sphere.
IDIOT MOMENT: Just some standard issue dumb horror movie moves like the heroes not striking when they have the chance and watching bad things happen instead of running. Nothing too offensive here.
“WTF?!?” MOMENT: When writer/director Don Coscarelli wrote off Liz (Paula Irvine), the female lead of PHANTASM II, in PHANTASM III, he did so in a truly brutal fashion. Her character was killed by a Jawa/Minion/Dwarf/Lurker, her face chewed off, and head sliced clean from body. Brutal. For whatever reason, Coscarelli does not give the same treatment to the character of Tim (Kevin Connors). Instead, the fate of the pint-sized hero of PHANTASM III is never shown, nor is he ever referenced to again. Weird.
USELESS KNOWLEDGE: One very difficult scripted sequence required filming on Wilshire Boulevard, the largest street in Los Angeles, only it had to be devoid of any people. As closing this major thoroughfare would be impossible and massively expensive, Don Coscarelli and his crew came up with a novel approach. Just minutes before sunrise on Thanksgiving holiday morning, the crew was ready to film, guerrilla-style, with the key actors A. Michael Baldwin and Angus Scrimm. They took over the street, without permission, and had ten uninterrupted minutes of filming with absolutely not a soul in sight. They only had that roughly ten minutes to film, but still managed to shoot the scene as they wanted it.
> Academy Award winner Roger Avary, a self-confessed hardcore fan of the PHANTASM series, wrote an epic screenplay originally called "Phantasm 1999 A.D." as a follow-up to PHANTASM III: LORD OF THE DEAD. It was set in a post-apocalyptic near future, featuring Bruce Campbell as a co-star. As the time passed and they couldn't get the budget needed (around $10 million) Don Coscarelli wrote and directed this fourth installment as a pre-cursor to the project, that was conveniently re-titled "Phantasm 2012 A.D." before sticking into "Phantasm's End" as the definitive title. Ultimately, when the financing for such an ambitious sequel couldn't be secured, the idea was scrapped altogether.
> The synopsis for the canceled "Phantasm's End" script written by Roger Avary goes as it follows: "The year is 2012 and there are only three U.S. states left. Between New York and California is the wasteland known as the Plague Zone. Unfortunately, the evil Tall Man controls that area. Since many people are dead, the Tall Man is able to make thousands of dwarf slaves for his planet daily in the Mormon Mausoleum. Besides him, the other residents are "baggers," human-like creatures that are infected by the Tall Man's blood, the dwarves, and, of course, the silver spheres, all trying to break out of the barrier that contains them and into the real world. A group of hi-tech troops are sent in to destroy the red dimension where the Tall Man gets his power. Reggie follows so he can find Mike after a series of nightmares he had. Will they be able to finally destroy the Tall Man for good?"
> In the original script, Tim's character, portrayed by Kevin Connors in PHANTASM III: LORD OF THE DEAD, was savagely eaten alive by the dwarves at the beginning of the movie. But budget constraints prevented the scene to never be filmed.
> The scene in which Reggie finds out that Jennifer's breasts are in fact spheres and gets attacked by them was directly taken from a dream sequence featured in the original screenplay for "Phantasm's End", penned by Roger Avary. It’s inclusion in PHANTASM IV: OBLIVION was intended as a homage / tribute to this doomed Phantasm sequel project. The scene in question was even fully storyboarded in color and depicted Reggie (dressed up with his ice cream vendor uniform) trying to get laid with a dominatrix hooker in a brothel room. To his surprise, he discovers that her breasts are spheres attached to her chest and gets attacked by them. In the struggle, he gets both of his hands drilled and, before one of the spheres can penetrate his skull, he suddenly wakes up and realizes it was just a nightmare.
> The USELESS KNOWLEDGE portion of this article was provided by IMDB.