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Film / Phantasm

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"You play a good game, boy. But the game is finished.
Now You Die!"

"Where he came from, nobody knows. His evil spread like a plague, destroying towns, maiming and killing. We called him The Tall Man; at first we thought he was just an undertaker. His hordes pillaged graveyards, rooted up the bodies, and spirited off the dead to a place worse than Hell."
Reggie, Phantasm: Oblivion

Phantasm is a series of horror films written and directed by Don Coscarelli (The Beastmaster, Bubba Ho Tep, John Dies at the End).

An evil supernatural being known as the Tall Man travels from small town to small town, leaving devastation in his wake. Posing as an undertaker, he steals dead bodies and transforms them into dwarf-like zombie slaves, nicknamed 'lurkers'. Pursuing him are the only ones who might stop him: a troubled young man named Mike, an aging, balding ice cream vendor named Reggie, and the few allies they find along the way.

To date, five films have been made, the most popular being the 1979 original, which remains a Cult Classic admired for its atmosphere and originality. With Phantasm II in 1988, the series shifted away from quiet, creepy horror, giving the heroes some cool weapons and upping the excitement. 1994's Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead is more of the same with added comedy, while 1998's Phantasm IV: Oblivion is a lot more subdued, and takes time to explore (if not explain) things hitherto unexplored in the series, such as the possible origins of the Tall Man.

It is fair to say that the rules of cool and scary are the guiding principles of the series. Going for Surreal Horror and the feeling of a nightmare, the films are brimming with such memorable horrors as the ex-human lurkers, the brain-drilling flying spheres, and Angus Scrimm playing the magnificently frightening Tall Man himself.

Sixteen years since the release of Oblivion, a fifth film in the series, Phantasm V: Ravager was completed and released. It is promoted as the series finale, and features Mr. Scrimm's last performance as the Tall Man.

Indie game developer End Transmission Games released a free tabletop RPG set in the Phantasm universe in 2010. The game is meant to invoke grindhouse horror, and also allows groups to include elements from other horror movies like Hellraiser, and From Dusk Till Dawn.

The series features examples of:

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  • Cool Car: In the first film Jody's 1971 'Cuda with a 440 6-pack, which, if built as one, would mean it was one of 237 built. From the second film on it's a '71 Hemi 'Cuda, it would be one of 107 built if a original semi. By the final film, it's been upgraded to a Weaponized Car packing dual miniguns.
  • Cool Gate: The gates that the Tall Man uses for transportation.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: How the Spheres deal with their victims, by impaling themselves into the forehead and then drilling between the eyes, the blood spurting out from the Sphere's other side.
  • Cut Short: The four issue comic miniseries by Xmachina. Only one issue was released.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: The ending of the first three movies.
  • Dirty Old Man: Reggie. By the last film, when he's actually living on a geriatric hospital, he still manages to be a Kavorka Man.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Reggie is an inversion of the trope. No matter what, the Regman repeatedly survives what happens to him.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Reggie is much more humble and down to earth in the first film compared to the sequels where he’s seen hitting on every woman he meets along his travels.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The true form of the Tall Man is implicated as being some kind of being that is anchored in another dimension.
  • Elite Mook: The Gold Spheres initially seem like these. Subverted when they turn out to be more important than mooks, seeing as how The Tall Man and later, Mike, are gold spheres.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: There is no way to stop the Tall Man. There is no way to get away from the Tall Man. The series itself pretty much ends on "And the Adventure Continues", edging on Bolivian Army Ending.
  • Gender Bender: In the first movie and possibly the second, the Tall Man seems able to transform himself into a gorgeous woman, doing so to lure people in for to be killed. And it was poor Reggie in both films!
  • Ghost Town: Any town that The Tall Man has visited ends up like this.
  • Heavyworlder: The lurkers get squashed as they are being made so that their bodies can withstand the gravity of The Tall Man's world.
  • Hand Sliding Down the Glass: When Liz and Mike are locked in the hearse, a beaten and bloodied Reggie slams into one of the windows, smearing two bloody handprints down the glass as he collapses.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The Tall Man, since he is impersonating a human who ventured into his world.
  • Human Resources: The Tall Man uses stolen corpses for two purposes; the bodies are compressed and reanimated as Lurkers; the brains are compressed and reanimated as operators of the Spheres.
  • Iconic Item: The Tall Man has his Sentinel Spheres. Reggie (from the second movie onwards) has his four-barreled shotgun.
  • Idiot Ball: The spheres have a tendency to accidentally kill the Tall Man's minions when they're supposed to be targeting the heroes.
  • Impossibly Cool Weapon:
    • The Tall Man's silver spheres. They're essentially flying Swiss Army knives of doom.
      • Even more so with the gold spheres, which have "positron lasers", 3 blades that look like serrated can-opener blades, and dual circular saws.
    • Reggie's quadruple-barreled shotgun counts as this. It consists of two double-barreled shotguns connected together via their mechanisms to create a four barreled masterpiece.
  • Invincible Boogeymen: The Tall Man is an Eldritch Abomination inhabiting the human corpse of an old man who journeyed into his dimension one day. He's super-strong, impervious to almost anything, can send deadly flying spheres against his targets, and even completely disintegrating him just means an identical Tall Man emerges from the portal.
  • Invincible Villain: The Tall Man who simply can't be stopped. Destroy him completely and another identical one will step out of the portal and finish where he left off. This is a common complaint of the series, as there is little point in hoping for the heroes to win. He has tens of thousands of copies of himself, all of which would need to be killed in order to defeat him, and considering how hard it is to kill just one, such a feat would be nigh impossible. It's possible that he would be killed if his true form in his home dimension could be reached and destroyed, but the place is infested with his minions and his powers are even greater there.
  • Kill It with Ice: Cold is one of the few forces proven to incapacitate the Tall Man, if only temporarily.
  • Large and in Charge: Angus Scrimm (who stood 6 feet 4 inches) deliberately wore a suit that was too small, and lifts in his shoes, to emphasize that he's the Tall Man, damn it! In one scene, playing opposite an actor who was almost as tall, Scrimm had to be filmed standing on a box to loom over him menacingly.
  • Mind Screw: How much of it is deliberate and how much is Coscarelli making it up as he goes along is unclear.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands:
    • The Tall Man. Though, to be fair, the extent of his powers is never made clear.
    • The "Sentinel Spheres" (silver spheres) seem to do this on occasion. It's unknown exactly if different spheres have different weapons and other equipment (such as the "eye stalk sphere"), or if they're all flying Swiss army knives of death.
      • Most noticeably, the Jody Sphere is able to shift into Jody's form, while the other spheres have to be embedded in a body to pass as human.
    • There's also Mike, where he first seemed to have a psychic link with Liz and the Tall Man in the second film before in the fourth film having Tall Man-like powers.
  • Ominous Walk: The Tall Man apparently carries marble floor with him just so he can use this trope.
  • Once per Episode: Someone must have decided that since the original film ends with Mike being pulled through a mirror by lurkers, each sequel should end with something similar befalling a character or characters, whether or not it makes sense. Only the fourth film breaks with this tradition.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: The Lurkers are zombies reanimated with Clarketech-made "embalming fluid", compressed into the size of a dwarf (to make them useful in Heavy Worlder environments) and their brains are removed (to be used as the cores of the Sentinel Spheres). They bleed yellow because of the fluid and can die if you hit them hard enough (like, say, with all four barrels of a shotgun...)
  • Retcon: It's pretty damned hard to figure out which parts of the end of one film you're supposed to accept as canon when watching the next in the series. Characters who clearly died are suddenly alive again, others just drop off the face of the earth, etc.
    • It doesn't help that all events in the series up to and including the first 10-15 minutes of the second film were All Just a Dream. It is uncertain how much - if any - of the first film actually happened, and beyond a few broad hints what the real events unfolded like. Then when the fourth film starts flashing back to footage from the original that wasn't actually included in the film...yep, the Phantasm series is a little screwy.
    • We can be fairly certain that none of the reveals of the third film, including the spheres holding the brains of dead people, and Mike being from the Tall Man's world were things Coscarelli had in mind while starting the series.
  • Rule of Cool: One of the things the series is based entirely around. In fact, a major strike against the sequels for many fans is that they attempt to make sense of the Tall Man and his world, which some see as an exercise in futility.
  • Rule of Scary: The other thing the series is based entirely around. The fact that the movies make little logical sense and you're never quite sure what's happening only adds to the surreal horror.
  • Save Scumming: A rare Film example. It's how The Tall Man keeps coming back. Subverted in the fourth film when Jody teaches Mike how to do it... but he isn't nearly as good at it as The Tall Man is.
  • Sequel Escalation: Particularly with the iconic spheres. The first film featured a single silver one. The second film had more, and introduced the golden spheres with more advanced abilities. By the fourth film you have entire swarms of the things flying around, and the fifth had a giant sphere the size of a house.
  • Spirit Advisor: Jody to Mike and Reggie in the third and fourth films.
  • Stopped Numbering Sequels: with the fourth installment Phantasm: Oblivion, although the "IV" in the subtitle is highlighted. Same goes for RaVager.
  • Super-Strength: The Tall Man, who despite his frail (yet imposing) frame, has demonstrated strength of the Neck Lift, Barrier-Busting Blow, and Hoist Hero over Head varieties. As a matter of fact, one of the first clues that there was something odd about the Creepy Mortician skulking around the local cemetery was Mike witnessing him heave a loaded casket into the back of a hearse. With one arm.
  • Surreal Horror: The original Phantasm in particular runs off this, but the whole series has strains of it.
  • This Is a Drill: The silver spheres kill by drilling into the brain and spitting the blood out the end.
  • Was Once a Man: Both the lurkers and, seemingly, the spheres and the Tall Man, himself.
  • White Void Room: The portal rooms to The Tall Man's world.
  • Zombie Mooks: Lurkers, reanimated and shortened zombie creatures ready to do The Tall Man's bidding.

    Phantasm (1979) 

"You play a good game boy, but the game is finished. Now you die."
The Tall Man

  • All Just a Dream: The film at least teases this, with Mike suddenly waking up and being told by a still-living Reggie that it was all a dream, but the Tall Man is real and still after him.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Jody believes Mike when he tells him about a magic flying drill and two jawas chasing him down a hallway, then sees the Tall Man's animated finger in a pool of yellow blood, but when Mike says that the Tall Man lifted a coffin all by himself, Jody exclaims, "You're crazy!"
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: In spite of being established as savvy on gun safety, Jody shoots at the lurker on his back by holding his gun perpendicular to his arm and firing over his head with an extended arm, using his thumb to pull the trigger, all while wildly jostling the lurker. He could have just as easily shot himself in the head.
  • Call-Back: Reggie is shown using a tuning fork on his guitar. In the climax, he recalls the tuning fork and puts his hands on the alien device to silence it.
  • Cat Scare: After Reggie returns with the shrunken Tommy in his truck, the camera follows him as he walks down the hallway, where he's started by Myrtle as she steps in and asks what's going on.
  • Creepy Mortician: The Tall Man, since he's true nature is yet to be discovered, poses as an odd mortician of the Morningside cemetery.
  • Downer Ending: The Tall Man is trapped in an abandoned mine shaft! Woo-hoo, yay! Then our hero wakes up, the adventure seemingly being All Just a Dream. Also, his brother was Dead All Along. However, as he's processing this, the Tall Man suddenly shows up, and drags his nemesis into a closet. Luckily, there were sequels.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: The Tall Man's hearse and his goons' vehicles tear themselves to pieces and explode after being hit with a shotgun enough times.
  • Evil Plan: The Tall Man is collecting bodies from the Morningside Cemetery to make into his extradimensional slaves.
  • Fake Shemp: The first scene of the movie has two Shemps: the actress who played the Lady in Lavender wasn't comfortable with mimicking a sex scene with the actor who played Tommy, so Bill Thornbury filled in for him. Also, she didn't want her own breasts on film, so the movie cuts to a shot of a different actress' breasts - in the credits, she's billed as "Double Lavender".
  • Fingore: The Tall Man's hand gets caught by a slammed door, then gets its fingers cut off when Mike realizes the trapped hand is there, and still moving. So were the amputated fingers. At least until one turned into an evil alien bug.
  • Hand in the Hole: In a likely Shout-Out to Dune, Mike is instructed by the daughter of the local blind witch to put his hand in a black box which inflicts pain on him, thus teaching him that fear is the mind killer. Mike utilizes this knowledge at the end of the film, trying not to fear The Tall Man.
  • Hand Wave: When Jody confronts his car that has stopped in front of him with no driver, he waits for several long, tense moments calling out and asking if Mike is in the car. Then, Mike suddenly appears and opens the door. The justification for why Mike waited to so long to reveal himself is his line, "Damn door latch!" Sure, let's go with that.
  • Light Is Not Good: The room containing the portal to the Tall Man's planet is noticeably brighter than the rest of the funeral home.
  • MacGyvering: After being locked in his room by Jody, Mike tapes a shotgun shell on a hammer which he uses to make a hole in his door and let himself out.
  • Mirror Scare: The film ends with Mike closing a closet door with a mirror on it, revealing that The Tall Man is in his room. He is then grabbed by the lurkers through the the mirror.
  • No Dead Body Poops: Averted with the caretaker, who voids his bladder after being fatally drilled by a sentinel sphere.
  • One-Word Title: For this first movie, at least.
  • Out with a Bang: The film opens with Tommy, a friend of Jody and Reggie, getting stabbed by a blonde that he just had sex with.
  • Product Placement: Jody is shown to be an aficionado of Dos Equis beer.
  • Undignified Death: Happens to the caretaker. Not only is he the first Sphere kill in the films but he then urinates all over the floor when he hits the ground.
  • The Scream: Heard distantly when Terrie Kalbus visits the mausoleum.
  • Shout-Out: There are several references to Dune by Frank Herbert:
    • The fortune-telling old lady with her ominous black box that contains pain is a clear reference to Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam. The Bene Gesserit Litany against Fear is also clearly referenced in that scene.
    • The bar where Jody tries to hook up also carries Dune in its name.
    • The sentinel spheres are a reference to the hunter-seeker assassination weapons in Dune, and even suffer from the poor field of vision that the weapons in Dune are stated to struggle with. Another point of similarity is that Dune's hunter-seekers are supposed to operate by burrowing into a victim's body to destroy vital organs (though the hunter-seekers are small enough to completely enter the victim's body when they do so).
  • Shown Their Work:
    • In the funeral home infiltration scene, Jody decides to carry his Colt 1911 with a round chambered but the hammer in the down position. When a lurker drops onto his back, he has to manually cock the hammer to start shooting at it, which is how a 1911 works in real life.
    • Further work-showing in the scene with Mike giving Jody the shotgun: "Don't point a gun at a man unless you intend to shoot him. Don't shoot at a man unless you intend to kill him. And no warning shots. Warning shots are bullshit. You shoot to kill, or you don't shoot at all." All 100% in line with the Rules of Gun Safety.
  • Viewers Are Goldfish: Mike spies on the funeral and watches the Tall Man single-handedly toss a coffin into a hearse. About three minutes of screen time later, he tells the fortune-teller about it, and we get a flashback to that entire sequence.
  • Wham Shot: At the end of the film... Mike is in his room - he closes the closet door to reveal the Not Quite Dead Tall Man standing behind him.
  • With Catlike Tread: Subverted. Mike carefully sneaks up to the funeral home in the middle of the night, and then noisily smashes a basement window to get in.

    Phantasm II (1988) 

"You think that when you die, you go to Heaven? You come to us!"
The Tall Man

  • Actionized Sequel: Since Mike and Reggie are already (mostly) on the know about The Tall Man and his machinations, they arm themselves with a laundry list of weapons and get plenty of use from them throughout the film.
  • All Just a Dream: Mike actually tries to summon this Trope to keep Liz calm.... "No, it's not!"
  • Body Horror: The Liz Creature that The Tall man has left as a grisly "calling card" to Mike and Reggie in one of the towns that he has entirely emptied of bodies.
  • Call-Back: When Liz is about to check a mysterious coffin in her hometown funeral parlor, The Tall Man grabs her shoulder and tells her that "gravesite service's about to begin", which is a similar to a scene from the previous film where he grabs Jody who is investigating strange noises.
  • Chainsaw Good: Our heroes pick up a chainsaw when they raid a hardware store for their battle against The Tall Man. Later on, Reggie has a chainsaw duel with a graver.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: The death of one of the assistant morticians. The Gold Sphere hits him right in the back and proceeds to drill right into his body, the mortician writing in agony, until it tries to leaves through his mouth but gets jammed in his jaws.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: Reggie's unseen family gets blown up so that he'll be motivated to go after The Tall Man together with Mike.
  • Dangerous Windows: The Tall Man kidnaps Liz by grabbing her through a window.
  • Death of a Child: Reggie's family, including his young daughter, are killed after the Tall Man blows up their house.
  • Ear Ache: A silver sphere flies past Father Meyers, removing his left ear before lodging itself on his forehead and draining him of his blood.
  • Fake Shemp: Mike's face isn't shown in the first part of the film, as he was clearly played by a different child actor.
  • Fire-Breathing Weapon: Mike creates a makeshift flamethrower.
  • Gas Mask Mooks: The gravers, who are in charge of exhuming graves and delivering their inhabitants to The Tall Man.
  • Groin Attack: Reggie finishes his chainsaw duel with a graver by raising his saw to the guy's groin.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The sound the first Gold Sphere in Phantasm II makes sounds like a girl constantly screaming.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Subverted when Mike uses one of the Tall Man's own flying spheres against him. It only makes him spurt yellow blood, and he crushes the sphere with his bare hand before throwing it away.
  • Homemade Flamethrower: While rigging up weapons in a hardware store, Mike builds a flamethrower out of several propane bottles and a blowtorch head. Somewhat realistically, it only has a range of a few feet and he wears a welding mask while using it to protect his eyes.
  • I'm Melting!: After being stabbed with a embalming needle, The Tall Man starts melting since Reggie added hydrochloric acid into the embalming fluid earlier.
  • Immediate Sequel: The film opens on Liz telling the audience about her visions of the future, and one of these visions is shown to be the ending of the previous film, and what happened immediately afterwards.
  • Life-or-Limb Decision: A mortician mook gets his hand Pinned to the Wall by a silver sphere which was aiming for Mike and Liz. When he sees a golden one headed his way as well, he resorts to cutting the pinned hand off with an axe to avoid an even worse fate.
  • Murder by Cremation: Liz escapes from being cremated alive, and hands that fate for one of The Tall Man's mortician mooks instead.
  • No-Sell: Mike manages to hit the Tall Man with one of his own spheres, and for a moment it seems to work as it sticks and begins pumping out yellow fluid instead of blood. Then he pulls the sphere off and crushes it in his hand like an aluminium can.
  • Numbered Sequels: Naturally, and the only sequel not to have a sub-title to go with it.
  • Oddball in the Series: The only Phantasm film to not feature Mike’s older brother Jody and lacks the Mind Screw dreamlike atmosphere that both the original and latter sequels have.
  • Right Through His Pants: The sex scene between Reggie and Alchemy involves the former fully clothed and the second just keeping her black panties.
  • Shout-Out:
    • A mortician mook is seen filling a bag labeled "Mr. Sam Raimi" with ashes. This may also be a Stealth Pun on Ash from Raimi's Evil Dead films.
    • There's a grave marked Alex Murphy. An obvious reference to RoboCop.
  • Super Window Jump: After saving young Mike from the lurkers, Reggie grabs him and jumps out of a second story window just before the entire house explodes.
  • This Is a Drill: Reggie has a power drill among his arsenal, which he uses against a graver who has lifted him against a wall to get free.
  • Unflinching Walk: At the beginning of the film, Reggie turns off the pilot lights on the gas stove in an effort to incinerate the Tall Man's minions. After a harrowing escape with Mike in tow, they leap out a window just in time to get clear of the massive explosion. The Tall Man merely glances backwards at the flaming building, then continues after the pair.

    Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead (1994) 

"It’s never over!"
The Tall Man

  • Action Girl: Rocky and Tanesha. Mostly Rocky, since Tanesha dies soon after she is introduced.
  • Asshole Victim: The looter trio, who solely exist to act like dicks and get killed. Even after death.
  • Badass Adorable: Tim. A cute boy who's absolutely deadly.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Tanesha, Rocky's friend, is the first to die of the main group.
  • Bloody Hilarious: The gore throughout the film is mostly played for laughs.
  • Credits Gag: The end credits have a warning that states how "unauthorized duplication, distribution, or exhibition may result in civil liability, criminal prosecutions, and the wrath of The Tall Man."
  • Death of a Child: The film ends with Tim being taken and killed by one of The Tall Man's lurkers, if his absence in the next film is anything to go by.
  • Decapitation Presentation: Liz doesn't survive the hearse crash at the beginning, and the Tall Man's standoff with Reggie ends with a dwarf handing the Tall Man her severed head as a trophy.
  • Denser and Wackier: There's a greater element of comedy in this sequel, in the vein of Evil Dead 2.
  • Designated Girl Fight: Rocky vs the female zombie Edna.
  • Go into the Light: Mike is somewhat discouraged from doing so in the third film when he sees the Tall Man waiting for him there.
  • Immediate Sequel: After the events of the previous films are recounted, it is shown what happened immediately after the second film ended.
  • Kavorka Man: Tthroughout all of the movies, but particularly here when he keeps hitting on Rocky.
  • Kill It with Ice: Our protagonists attempt to defeat The Tall Man by stabbing him with a cryogenics-dipped spear and the locking him up in a freezer. This incarnation of The Tall man then retaliates by unleashing the golden sentinel within his body.
  • Neck Snap: Not shown onscreen, but when Tim finds his mother's corpse, its head is clearly twisted around.
  • Nocturnal Mooks: According to Tim, the lurkers, The Tall Man's dwarfish minions, only come out at night.
  • Numbered Sequels: With an instance of Title of the Dead as a subtitle.
  • Off with His Head!: Jody-sphere latches itself onto Rufus's head, and starts spinning around, removing it.
  • Portal Cut: The Tall Man is reaching through one of his dimensional gates when Reggie shuts it off, slicing them off where they then mutate into alien scorpion-like creatures that attack the protagonists.
  • Slashed Throat: Tim kills Rufus of the looters by throwing a frisbee adorned with razors, which then proceeds to cut his throat.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Liz is shown dying from a car crash after the film starts proper with the Tall Man carrying her head not too long after.
  • Super Window Jump: After finding out that his mother is dead, Tim crashes out of the back-window of the hearse he's on.
  • Symploce: The little verbal exchange between the Tall Man and Reggie has it:
    Reggie: It's all over.
    The Tall Man: It's never over.
  • That Came Out Wrong: Done by Jody when his spirit interrupts Reggie amidst an erotic dream of his.
    Jody: Yeah Reg, I kinda need you to get behind me— I-I mean I need you get behind what I'm saying.
  • Wham Line: As usual, one comes from The Tall Man at the end of the film:
    Reggie: (to Tim) Run kid, get out of here! It's over!
    The Tall Man: It's never over.

    Phantasm: Oblivion (1998) 

"Where do you think you're going boy? Death is no escape from me."
The Tall Man

  • 11th-Hour Costume Change: Reggie changes his clothes and dresses like an ice cream vendor just before the climax.
  • Blatant Lies: In a dream, the Tall Man is caught by a noose and he begs the young Mike to cut him down.
    The Tall Man: Cut me down!
    Michael: No!
    The Tall Man: I won't hurt you.
    Michael: You're killing the world!
    The Tall Man: I'll go away... and I won't ever come back. [gives mischievous grin]
    Michael: You will?
    The Tall Man: Yes.
  • Blipvert: The very beginning of the movie.
  • Body Horror: The living, twisted body in the trunk.
  • Bond One-Liner: Reggie, after witnessing the definitive demise of the zombie cop: "Wow, some cops can be real assholes!"
  • Chekhov's Gun: With his new powers, Mike contructs a sentinel sphere of his own, which is powered by his car's engine. This turns up in the climax where he uses it to lure The Tall Man into an exploding trap, which fails to kill him since another version of him appears right afterwards.
  • Credits Gag: Like the previous film, the end credits have a warning that states how "unauthorized duplication, distribution, or exhibition may result in civil liability, criminal prosecutions, and the wrath of The Tall Man."
  • Darker and Edgier: May be the most grim entry in the franchise, lacking in much of the campy humor of the third, and Mike and Reggie are completely on their own for much of the movie.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: Reggie Bannister sang and wrote the lyrics for "Have You Seen It?", the rock song that plays over the end credits. Doubles as an Image Song as well.
  • Downer Ending: The film ends with Mike dying and Reggie going off into parts unknown to follow the Tall Man.
  • Drop the Hammer: Reggie has a sledge hammer with him, which he uses to kill Jennifer after she turns out to be one of The Tall Man's minions.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: It is even lampshaded, with the implication that Reality Is Unrealistic.
    Reggie: We better move away from the car before the gasoline blows.
    Jennifer: Wait! I thought cars only blew up like that in the movies!
    Car explodes in a huge fireball
    Reggie: Yeah, me too.
  • For Want Of A Nail: A particularly heartbreaking example. Mike meets Jebediah Morningside, the original owner of the Morningside Funeral Home, who the Tall Man is now using as a "skinsack". Morningside pleads with him to tell him about his experience with the Dimension Fork, but Mike is too terrified. If he'd just told him about what awaits him on the other side, he could have stopped the Tall Man from stealing his body, and from taking over the world .
  • Gothic Horror: This installment in the series is particularly abundant in this though some occasional gothic elements do spring up across the whole franchise. So, the movie features: a man lost in the Death Valley, chilling in a funeral car during the nighttime, writing a letter in the light of a candelabra. There is also a tophat sporting man called Jebediah who is an enigmatic unorthodox inventor, he lives almost all by himself in the middle of nowhere in a Victorian manor and performs outworldly experiments. He has an old fashion steampunk looking mechanism that could be easily placed in a Frankenstein movie and no one would tell the difference. Plenty of deserted and derelict scenery - a lone withered tree in the middle of a desert, a cemetery, a mortuary. So on and so forth.
  • Grandparent Clause: Reggie puts on a milkman's uniform just because that's what he wore in the first movie. Just a recognizable homage to the past, iconic for this character.
  • Immediate Sequel: The film starts with Mike driving away from Boulton after learning the truth about himself, and The Tall Man sparing Reggie's life from what seemed like his certain doom.
  • Sanctuary of Solitude: There is a scene in the movie where Mike kind of chills in the funeral car, writing a letter, making up a plan and pondering over different stuff in the light of candles. The funeral car is not a church, sure, but still it has some spiritual and religious connotations as the burial process and everything connected with it are parts of a ritual.
  • Shout-Out: Mike walking around a canyon while being stalked by lurkers is similarly to a scene from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, where R2D2 is being followed by Jawas.
  • Staggered Zoom: When Mike attempts to hang himself, a zoom like this shows The Tall man watching him in the distance.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Liz and Tim.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: By creating his dimensional gate, Jebediah Morningside inadvertently ended up giving the interdimensional being that would become the Tall Man a "skinsack" and a way to access our world, leading to the events of the series.
  • Wham Line: Delivered after the sweet old man Jebediah Morningside walks into his prototype dimensional gate.
    Mike: *as Jebediah Morningside steps through the prototype dimensional gate* When's he coming back?
    Jody: Jebediah Morningside never does come back.
    *The Tall Man steps back through the gate, Sentinel in hand.*

    Phantasm: Ravager (2016) 

"You’re not even real. You’re MY bad dream!"
The Tall Man

  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: In the "main" reality, the Tall Man issued a full on invasion and took over much of the world.
  • Ambiguous Situation: The movie plays around with the idea that the entire series is Reggie's delusions as he grows older and gets Senile Dementia.
  • Asshole Victim: The guy who stole the Cuda gets murdered by a sphere.
  • Batman Gambit: Reggie tricks a car's driver into going for a gun, then pulls the gun out of its actual hiding place, revealing that the car was in fact Reggie's.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Jody shows up at a crucial moment, driving the weaponized Cuda.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Reggie finally finds Mike and Jody, but they're all still stuck in a battle against the Tall Man, who for all intents and purposes is unstoppable.
  • The Bus Came Back: Rocky turns up in The Stinger.
  • Credits Gag: The threat in the end credits is escalated to "the eternal wrath of the Tall Man."
  • Defiant to the End: Reggie expresses his wish to go out this way "On my own two feet, shoving four barrels and hell down their fucking throats".
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: The Tall Man can't understand the concept of Loyalty.
  • Kavorka Man: Reggie. Or at least it's strongly implied that Dawn would have invited him into her bed, if she hadn't come back downstairs and found him already asleep.
  • Left Hanging: The series ends without a proper conclusion, as the Tall Man is still undefeated and the questions of what exactly he is or what his obsession with Mike stemmed from are left unanswered.
  • Numbered Sequels: Played with with the subtitle, which has the "v" in ''Ravager'' highlighted.
  • Reality Has No Subtitles: None of Demeter's dialogue is translated.
  • Sequel Escalation: Gigantic versions of the spheres appear, especially in the reality where The Tall Man has taken over the world.
  • The Stinger: The action continues after the credits start rolling, including a scene where a very battered but still living Chunk comes crawling out of a portal in the desert and meets up with Rocky.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Mike returns in this movie, still alive and powers intact.
  • The Virus: How the Tall Man took over the world.
  • Word Sequel

Alternative Title(s): Phantasm II, Phantasm III Lord Of The Dead, Phantasm IV Oblivion, Phantasm V Ravager