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The Ending to "Phantasm" (Very Big Spoilers - Obviously!)

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The Ending to "Phantasm" (Very Big Spoilers - Obviously!)

Old 05-28-04, 01:41 PM
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The Ending to "Phantasm" (Very Big Spoilers - Obviously!)

After just seeing Don Coscarelli's "Bubba Ho-Tep," I decided to check out perhaps his most popular film which I haven't seen in close to 20 years: "Phantasm." I remember it scared me silly as a kid - to the point where I couldn't sleep for a week. Now, having seen it again, although I don't think it's aged too well, I do see why it was a cult hit and can still appreciate its frightening imagery.

So my question concerns the ending. It's just like I remembered, and still makes no more sense than it did when I was a kid. Perhaps the sequels enlighten things a bit, but I've only seen the first movie. I'll probably check out part two tonight, however. Assuming the sequels never bother to explain things, I was wondering if there were any theories about this ending. The way I see it, there are four possibilities:

1. Both the kid (Mike) and his older brother (Jody) have nightmares during the movie involving the Tall Man and his funeral home, so this last scene was just another nightmare, and then Mike wakes up the moment the credits roll.

2. The Tall Man can obviously influence people's thoughts and cause them to hallucinate. A blonde girl stabs a couple of people during the movie, and then she is revealed to actually be the Tall Man. Mike's whole realization to "show no fear" sort of ties in with this. By learning not to fear the Tall Man, he doesn't succumb to scary arms pulling him down into the mud - kind of how you can control a bad dream. And, as mentioned above, the Tall Man can appear in people's nightmares, so there is no disputing he can control people's minds.

So, in the end, Mike's reality has been altered by the Tall Man. Mike thinks his older brother is dead, and he's fooled into believing he is now under the care of Reggie (who was killed earlier in the movie). Then suddenly: "Boyyyyyyyy!" and - wham! - it's all over for Mike. (For me, this theory is a bit of a stretch, however.)

3. The entire movie WAS a dream, just like Reggie said. Somehow, the Tall Man materialized out of Mike's dreams and snatched him in the end. (Although, I think with this idea we are now moving into theories that make less sense.)

4. Yeah, you're right. The ending makes no sense, nor is it supposed to. It's just a cheap scare at the end, tacked on for shock value and intended to trick a bunch of people into discussing it endlessly as if this was fine art or something.
Old 05-28-04, 03:53 PM
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FWIW, I don't think anyone can logically explain your questions to you without stretching the imagination and using a little creative license of their own. Basically, you've answered them yourself. Tall Dude can mess with people's minds. The ending with Reg being Mikes guardian is just another one of the Tall Man's tricks. The Tall Man snatching Mike at the end is the supposed reality.

These are of course my interpretations of a sort of bizarre story.

The Phantasm series is one of my personal favorites, and by all means check out the next 3 movies. #2 has a different Mike, but the original Mike returns for #3 and #4. Reg is in all of them, and even Jody makes a return in his own undead way. They don't really explain much of anything, but they are entertaining. #4, OblIVion (get it, that's a roman numeral 4) is probably the oddest, and needs to be watched a couple of times.

*Bubba Hotep Trivia: Reg plays the nursing home administrator.

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