Phantasm V - What does it all mean?
So last night I finally got around to watching Phantasm V Ravager. I was a little weary since right from the start many hardcore fans of the first four films were saying how awful it looked. Between the low budget, the lifetime it felt that everyone was waiting for this to be released, the fact Coscarelli wasn't directing, AND how complete and final everything (at least in my eyes) felt at the end of part 4. I wasn't sure if the fifth installment we had been waiting for was really going to be worth it in the long run.
So I went to a friend's house, we rented it via VOD and I was pleasantly surprised. I think since I had very expectations this worked out in my favor. I knew this would be a complete hot mess, but I think as being a huge fan, and being emotional invested in this movie and the characters, I sorta ignored the flaws (and trust me there were many) This by far was the weakest installment, and honestly left me wanting more. There were tons of loose ends, and it really didn't feel like the last and final movie (mostly with this being Angus' last film in the series.) But who knows, I'm all down for another sequel.
So here it is, I'll sum up my own personal theory on the past 4 films.
I believe the first four films all take place in Michael's mind. That in the original Phantasm Michael nearly two years before hand lost his older brother Jody and parents in a horrible car accident. Being traumatized by survivor's guilt and the aftermath of the funeral, Mike slipped into a world of his own. This being a total escape from his biggest fear.
That unable to come to terms with the deaths of his family and the fact there was nothing he could do, his fragile mind made up this fantasy where his brother Jody was still alive. That he always needs to follow him since he's afraid he'll leave him behind. Here death (aka the Grim Reaper) is The Tall Man. This alien being that's unstoppable (You can't escape death) who transforms the dead into slaves. That he has super human strength, and is bothered by the cold (cold as in dead flesh, a morgue, ect.) That there are all these surreal strange dreamlike moments that surround Michael as he teams up with his brother and friend (who has served as a father figure since his parent's passing) That they all stand up to defeat and stop this being. There are TONS and I mean TONS of symbolism in the original movie. Between the scene of Michael waking in the street after the dwarf attack (Almost as if Jody willed him back to life.) or how Jody doesn't have the guts to open his father's casket but Michael does, sending him running and screaming. The silver spheres that legit drain your life right out of you, or The Tall Man telling Michael he's been waiting for him and legit tosses into him the back of the hearse. Over and over it's repeated that Michael needs to have no fear, and that there's no escape from death.
The movie ends with Michael awaking from a dream. This I believe was true. The entire first movie was all a dream/fantasy to Michael and that he finally awakes from it and is faced again by the terrible reality that Jody and his parents are dead. Here Reggie tries to explain things to him, but yet again his fragile mind can't take the reality of the truth and the scene where Michael is pulled back into the mirror is his mind snapping back into this fantasy.
Part II even through it follow a more straight and narrow storyline is basically the same. How Michael even as a teenager could never escape The Tall Man. That Reggie's entire family is killed and the two are faced to hit the road as warriors in a sense going from ghost town to ghost town trying to find him. How religion won't save you or how the one girl that was connected to Michael or his only true chance at a normal life or chance at love is shattered at the end. Again he's pulled back further and further into this fantasy. I feel at Michael's age he really was committed to a mental hospital and released. Here he's unable to cope that he actually could have a chance at living a normal life, and throws it all away still fearing death.
In part III the same thing happens again. In the film's first opening moments Liz is killed, showing any chance Michael could of had is ruined. Perhaps he threw away any chance at having any relationships due to this obsession. He's sent into a coma (more years of his youth wasted) where Reggie remains the only person that stands by his side. Here after all this years Jody returns, again showing how guilty and lost Michael is without him. At the end of the movie Michael is older, and it shows the reality of getting older is really hitting him. That could he actually be transforming into what he fears the most? Could death be coming closer and closer?
Here Reggie, himself, and others battle only to learn that it's hopeless. Tim, the young boy mirrors Michael at an early age, and how there's no escape. Michael dreams of a massive sphere (The gold one, much like the one inside The Tall Man) that there's this terrible thing growing inside of him (brain tumor anyone?) and he could actually die and become death as he's always feared.
In part 4, Michael is alone again with his only hope being Reggie to follow him as he goes further and further into the abyss. Here in his mind he sees his own brother as a threat who betrays him since deep down inside he's angry that he died all those years ago. There's a scene of him in the hearse writing his will, maybe coming to terms that he might actually really be dying. Here he attempts to stop The Tall Man, only to learn you can't change the past (Something he's lived with for years) In the ending showdown he sees he can't stop The Tall Man aka death and that he's dying (brain tumor again anyone?) and that Reggie is still there to continue fighting for him. In the last scene, which in my eyes is completely beautiful he flashes back to a memory of himself much younger back with Reggie. Here it almost seems as if he's come with terms with what's happened and everything is full circle. Now with part 5 I believe Michael does in fact live and in a way somewhat cured. It took a near death experience (perhaps a tumor, or cancer) that made him open his eyes to the fact that he's older and there's no stopping the future. That he's at peace, and able to move on.
In part 5 it stays very heavy that most of this is taking place in Reggie's mind. Flashing back and forth between three different storylines. I feel the true reality is Reggie in the nursing home, sick, and slowly wasting away. As his mind is slipping, he's become wrapped up in this other universe. One he's made after years of listening to Michael back when he was very ill. Here he's stronger, and fighting The Tall Man (death) again, Now at Reggie's age it seems almost impossible to stop = The entire planet being taken over. Here Reggie keeps slipping in and out of things while Michael, now older has to watch his one true friend who helped him through his own hard times waste away. To Reggie, he's slipping into a reality where he's a solider in a war, one of which he's fighting beside a boy he looks at as a son. At the end it shows him dying with both Michael and Jody holding his hand. I don't think Jody was really there, that in Reggie's mind he's passing away with two people that meant the most to him. (Is Michael really there is the question, perhaps he died as well.) Here this old man in his mind sees himself fighting the Tall Man's warriors (mirroring the doctors and nurses) and in the end scene as he passes away goes into the Cuda and rides off into the sunset with Michael, Jody. (the little guy, who I kept believing was Tim) and yes Rocky. Here they are a team, a family. They are all working together, looking at new ways to stop The Tall Man, together.
Agree or disagree?
Let me know your thoughts after watching part v!