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Phantasm IV just might be my favorite film of all time, and I'd like to explain why I adore it so much and feel that, in every sense, it IS a fitting end to the series, and that it leaves NO questions unanswered.
This series has always been a riddle, always an enigma, and the answers are as difficult to see when they're right in front of you as perhaps the destination of one of the Tall Man's dimensional forks.
I'm sure everyone has a theory of what was meant or implied by a lot of the events of Phantasm IV, and here's my personal take that I strongly believe in, so much so that when I watch part IV, it brings tears to my eyes, every time, without fail.
A lot of people get confused by the "contradictory" flashback scenes that depict different events than what happened in the original Phantasm.
Think about this...it IS true that the ending of Phantasm reveals that everything was just a bad dream, and that Jody died in a car wreck. But poor confused little Michael claims that everything felt so real...
Ten years later, his dream is proven a reality because the Tall Man is back, desecrating every town he travels through-he also kills Reggie's family. Reggie then believes Michael and the two team up and the rest of the series plays out rather linearly.
But...then how could everything have been a dream, if it all proved true? What....REALLY happened?
In part IV, Michael is not only beginning to understand everything about the Tall Man's origins, but about the CORRECT origins to his own connection to it all. It WAS a dream, but something ELSE happened. All the flashback footage we are shown in part IV finally reveals what REALLY happened when Michael first encountered the Tall Man. Everything else we saw in the original was either one of many parallel universes we've witnessed in the series, or merely a dream caused by the Tall Man affecting Michael's perception of reality.
So....Jody DID die in a car wreck, but we never LIVED that reality. It's this disconnection and robbery of Michael's memory of his brother that makes this series so effective in it's sense of loneliness and emotional loss.
Also, I believe that the girl from Phantasm II that Michael has a telepathic connection to is a result of this. She looks extremely similar to the granddaughter of the psychic from the original, and I believe, that if everything from part I WAS a dream, then he knew that girl from a separate dimension of reality, the reality we never knew, that is, until we saw glimpses of it in part IV.
The ending of part IV brings tears to my eyes. Reggie tears through the fabric of time, to journey back to where his personal journey with Mike began. Sitting together in the ice cream truck, they truly have traveled back in time, where they can relive the battle, only this time, armed with something more powerful than a four-barreled shotgun....knowledge.
They will continue this battle, most likely forever. Yet every time they come back to where they started, they will have learned more every time.
It is for this reason that I do not wish for a Phantasm V, no matter how much I adore this "phranchise". I have never held so much love and compassion for a series of films or a cast of characters as much as what I've seen in the Phantasm saga. I would love another journey with them, but, in my heart, I know that Reggie and Mike are still out there, traveling across endless dimensions, fighting the Tall Man for all eternity. They are the Yin and Yang, the Life and Death, of Space and Time. For one to give in to, or to destroy the other, would probably unravel the very fabric of all reality. Let's hope their fight never ends.
Thank you, Don, for giving us the most endearing, complex, and compassionate horror film saga that has ever been created. I will cherish these films until the day I die.
Your undying Phan,