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The Greatest Movies Never Made: Phantasm 1999AD

Phantasm is a cult icon. With the original film and the three subsequent sequels all being directed by the storytelling master Don Coscarelli, The Tall Man has become a cult icon in the vein of Freddy, Jason, and Michael.

Don Coscarelli is an intensely interesting filmmaker. To say that he’s prolific, wouldn’t be exactly true. The man usually takes eight to ten years between films, which can be maddening if you’re on of his loyal followers. He’s directed such wonderful classics as The Beast Master, Bubba Ho-Tep, and John Dies at the End. Don Coscarelli is finally getting his just desserts. He’s finally being mentioned in horror round table discussions alongside the greats of Sam Raimi, Romero and Carpenter. His cult status is slowly ballooning into bonafide adulation and love from the public that didn’t necessarily flock to see his films when they originally opened.

Don Coscarelli has made some wonderful films. But ultimately he’ll probably be remembered for Phantasm. And that’s completely ok, because Phantasm, Phantasm 2, and Phantasm 3: Lord of the Dead are all beautiful pictures. Phantasm IV: Oblivion? Not so much. Why is that?

Well, originally Phantasm IV was going to be the last and best Phantasm movie ever to grace the screen. It was to be titled Phantasm 1999 AD. The film was written around 1996 or 1997. It was penned by Roger Avary. Yes, THAT Roger Avary. the man who co-wrote Pulp Fiction. Apparently, he was a massive Phantasm fan and had an amazing idea for a sequel.

Supposedly, the film was to have a massive scale. One unlike anything we’ve ever seen in a Phantasm film. The original Phantasm cost only $300,000 and both sequels were produced for the measly sums of $3 million and $2.5 Million. By today’s standard s that like trying to make a movie in your living room with an iPhone. According to the few people who have actually read the script it centers on a near post-apocolyptic future where there are only two cities left: New York and Los Angeles. Everything else is a baron wasteland controlled by the Tall Man. Reggie, who is living in New York at this point, has violent nightmares about Mike being held captive by the Tall Man and tortured. Reggie then takes it upon himself to travel across the country to attempt to save Mike from the Tall Man’s clutches in Los Angeles.

Basically it would have combined the classic road trip elements form two and three but had Reggie, and some supporting characters, battling  hordes of the undead.

Supposedly there was a rather substantial part for famed horror actor Bruce Campbell as well.

Due to the increased size of the film Phantasm 1999AD never secured funding. As a means of attempting to stir up more momentum for Phantasm 1999AD Don Coscarelli wrote and directed Phantasm : OblIVion instead. Phantasm IV isn’t a bad movie, it’s just hampered by not having any money. The film is limited in scope, and while providing some interesting character elements doesn’t really do anything to shock or astound the viewer. The only thing Phantasm IV really does is set up Phantasm 1999 AD. It ends with Mike being permanently damaged by the Tall Man, which could dove tail directly into Phantasm 1999AD, if the film is ever actually produced. Don Coscarelli supposedly produced the film in order to segue into Phantasm 1999AD which would be retitled Phantasm’s End. This never materialized either.

Recently, while on the promotional tour in support of John Dies At The End, Don Coscarelli said that he was more than willing to make a fifth Phantasm film and that over the years he’d had numerous ideas for how to make another installment. He’s also gone on record as saying that the cast still looks great and that he’d love to bring them back together again.

Only time will tell if we’ll ever see Phantasm 1999AD or Phantasm’s End or Phantasm V but if it is produced, you can bet that I’ll be there front and center opening weekend. The Phantasm films deserve to be wrapped up with a period before the inevitable crappy remake or reboot without Don Coscarelli involved. The public wants another Phantasm film, let’s hope the powers that be aqueous and produce one.


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About the Author

on MUSIC IS MY OXYGEN WEEKLY.

Dave Baker, originally from the drug-infested wasteland that is Arizona, lives in Los Angeles. He has a degree in Visual Communications with an emphasis in Illustration. Logically, he makes a living as a writer. Dave has written comic books and the moving pictures. Dave also enjoys talking about himself in the third person, not cooking, and taking long walks around his apartment. If you'd like to read more of his writing or comics they can be found at http://theactionhospital.com

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Posted in: Cult Movies, Featured (Film), Film, Film Reviews, Horror Films


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