This one is not strictly a Don Coscarelli film – he produced it while someone else directed it. However, his fingerprints are deep enough in the movie that I think that should count.
Phantasm 5 is easily my 3rd if not second favorite film in the series. I know I’m in a minority there, but I love everything about this. We have the reunion aspect, everybody is back for one last ride, but we also have a much better sense of finality. The Phantasm films never really end, they’re always cliffhangers, but this one feels more hopeful than any others.
There is a sort of piecemeal look to it, the decision to transition from web series into feature film came on little too late and is obvious, but it still feels like a satisfying end to the series. It’s just as weird as any of the other entries, and the action is just as impressive and it allows me one more foray into this world.
I went to great detail on this film when it came out, and I don’t feel like rehashing that here, but I do want to let you in on the big secret of the film… Most of it is a dream. No, I mean it… From the beginning of the movie, until Reggie wakes up in the tall man’s laboratory, being rescued by the woman from his dream and her diminutive companion, all of that is a fantasy – one that the tall man has created to extract information. The only part of the film that is in the “real world “are the moment in phantasms end. Even when we start flashing back to the nursing home, that is the dream… It’s still hanging on, it’s still clinging along the edges. At the moment that he leaves the nursing home, the moment he dies in the nursing Home, that’s not REGGIE’S death – it’s the dream dying. It’s Reg choosing to live in the real world.
The film makes a great deal more sense once you understand this, and it’s actually a lot more straightforward than ever, despite feeling wierder! It’s the final appearance of Angus Scrimm, and I’m glad for it. It’s a good performance, and the Tall Man is truly scary once more. No goofy companions like the scavengers from 3, he’s surrounded by dares and gas masked gravers. He’s on top of his game (though I wish he had some better lines to say) and even with the short hair feels scarier than ever.
A fitting end to the series, and also to this director retrospective.