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Superman's Pal

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 5,667
Subj: Phantasm II (1988)
Posted: Thu Apr 25, 2019 at 01:56:26 pm CDT (Viewed 601 times)

My review of Phantasm (1979).

Phantasm II (1988)

According to Wikipedia, Universal wanted a horror franchise to compete with the other ‘80s slasher films such as Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street or Halloween so they pushed Don Coscarelli to create a sequel to Phantasm and threw a bunch of money at him.

Phantasm II picks up immediately where the first film left off; as much as it can, that is, considering that the end of the first film stated that the entire film was a dream. We are shown the end of the first movie with kid Mike (Michael Baldwin) and Reggie (Reggie Bannister) talking in front of a fireplace, then Mike goes upstairs and gets pulled into a mirror by the minions of the Tall Man (Angus Scrimm). The scene continues with new footage. Reggie heads upstairs and we see Mike has not been pulled into another dimesion but merely the hallway by the dwarf zombies. Mike of course is unconscious because this scene was shot 9 years later and he was played by a stand-in. Reggie turns on the gas stove, grabs Mike and dives out the window as the house explodes. They race off in the HemiCuda.

Now it’s seven years later and Mike has been recast with James LeGros because Universal wanted an established actor. He does fine with the part, I suppose, but fans weren’t pleased about the recasting. Mike has been in an institution because everything he remembers about the Tall Man is apparently a delusion, including Reggie blowing up his house. Mike tells the doctors he’s recovered so he can get out, but then goes back to Morningside cemetery to start digging up graves to prove that they are empty and the Tall Man is snatching corpses. Reggie finds him there and tells him it’s all in his head, it never happened. He takes Mike back to his house to meet his wife and kids. Mike gets a premonition of the Tall Man and tries to warn Reggie but he doesn’t believe him until they see his house explode right in front of them. Now they’ve both lost their families and vow to destroy the Tall Man.

A girl named Liz (Paula Irvine) has been having premonitions of Mike and the Tall Man for years and Mike is aware of the psychic connection too. Mike and Reggie head across country to Perigord, Oregon to find Liz. Along the way they pick up hitchhiker Alchemy (Samantha Phillips). In Perigord, Liz’s grandfather has died and the Tall Man is lurking around the funeral. Grandpa gets reanimated as a full-size zombie and attacks Grandma as well as Father Meyers (Kenneth Tigar). There’s a lot of stuff happening and a lot of “fresh meat” as they say, cannon fodder characters.

Mike and Reggie also find a workshop where Reggie straps two double-barrelled shotguns together to make a four-barrelled shotgun, and even files the tip down to a point. They get outfitted with chainsaws and hand grenades. It’s a bit reminiscent of the “gearing up” scene in Evil Dead II a year earlier. They get a chance to fight off a lot of the Tall Man’s minions in this one, the action installment of the franchise.

There’s a showdown in a crematorium, an embalming room, and of course the white room with the tuning forks that lead to the Red World, whatever it is. This time both Mike and Reggie get pulled into the Red World before coming back to the mortuary. The Tall Man also has multiple metal spheres flying around to do his bidding and drain people’s heads of blood.


They seem to defeat the Tall Man by pouring acid into the embalming machine and sticking the hose into him causing his body to start leaking yellow blood out of every pore.

Everyone takes off in a stolen hearse, but Alchemy reveals herself to be a zombie or something. The car stops and dumps Reggie’s dead body outside, and Mike and Liz are locked in the back. They assure each other “this is only a dream” and suddenly the Tall Man pops up to growl “No, it’s not!” as they are sucked out the back window of the car, similar to how Mike was sucked into the mirror at the end of the first movie.

I think the franchise fans don’t like this installment too much, partly because Mike has been recast and partly because it’s more action, less suspense than the original. I think the higher budget works in its favor though, with more elaborate setpieces and special effects. The biggest problem is that a lot of story beats are copied from the first making it half sequel, half remake. It’s similar to other sequels such as Desperado or Evil Dead II where the filmmakers probably had to assume most people had never seen the original movie so they had to repeat the good bits, making it a bit redundant if you sit down and watch both.

It’s a fairly fun movie, but maybe somewhat forgotten because it had been a long time since the first one, and the rest of the series went straight to video.

I’ll be reviewing the rest as I lead up to finally watching the fifth and final installment, Phantasm: Ravager from 2016 which I finally got on DVD a week ago.

Phantasm II Trailer

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