Director – Don Coscarelli
Cast – James LeGros, Reggie Bannister, Angus Scrimm, Paula Irvine, Samantha Phillips, Kenneth Tigar, Ruth C. Engel, Mark Anthony Major, Rubin Kushner, Stacey Travis
Release Year – 1988
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Nine years after the debut of the initial horror film that brought director Don Coscarelli(Phantasm series, Bubba Ho-tep) to the horror genre, Phantasm, we were given an awesome sequel in Phantasm II. Fans of the first entry should find this continuation highly enjoyable as Coscarelli gives us the same fun elements that we were exposed to in the original, complimented with a great storyline and his ever-awesome direction.
After residing in a mental hospital following the events of the first film, Mike is finally released after convincing the doctors that the terrible events of his past were just figments of his imagination. However, immediately after his release he contacts his old friend Redge and together the two embark on a journey to hunt down the Tall Man and safe a mysterious woman who has been appearing in Mike’s vivid dreams.
Is there anything really wrong with wanting “more of the same”?. When I hit the Play button for this flick I was thinking, “I really hope this gives me more of the awesomeness that Phantasm gave me”, and that was thankfully the case with this one. I liked that Coscarelli continued his story several years after the climax of the first entry, with our main protagonists older, wiser, stronger, and a hell of a lot more pissed off. Watching Mike immediately set himself on the idea of ridding his life of the Tall Man once and for all was great, and his companionship with the formerly unbelieving Redge was used to full potential as they braved certain death together to avenge the losses they suffered from due to the Tall Man. Their quest to find him is awesome, and they come across many twists and turns resulting from numerous traps set up by the Tall Man to deter their seeking of him. I loved this idea of them seemingly going on a vengeful road trip as it allowed me to put myself in their shoes, plus if you know me then you know that I love vengeance, and I love road trips, so go figure. Our characters come well-used and do not come as useless excuses to take up runtime, although I personally wish that we would have been given more of the Tall Man, but just like the first film he comes and goes at short intervals. The horror in the film is great, and it comes in multiple forms involving the Tall Man’s traps, the Tall Man himself, his creepy dwarf minions and staff, and of course…the epic silver sphere of ultimate death. All of the unique elements combined make for great pacing as I never found myself bored or wanting the film to end, in fact I was left yearning for more when the final sequence commenced, and to make matters even sweeter the final sequence comes with a harrowing climax that was a nice fit for a film of great horror.
Coscarelli’s direction is superb in this one, and he gets things going in awesome fashion with great atmosphere and creepy sets to envelop you into the feel of the film. We are taken to numerous locations thanks to the film’s story, and each of them provided a different feel as they traveled to graveyards, homes, morgues, churches, and the Tall Man’s lair as well. Some may not see the significance in the usage of locations, but when it comes to pacing and keeping the user engaged it is heavily relied upon location, location, and location to do so. His execution of the characters was great, and all of the actors involved provided positively to the film. Of course, Coscarelli’s execution of the horror is the Phantasm II‘s biggest selling point, and he does a damn good job bringing us supreme horror. The kills are great and come with plenty of live-action gore, and Coscarelli’s full-frontal approach to the horror makes them truly memorable, especially the infamous silver sphere kills.
Overall, Phantasm II is a great sequel to the original effort that gives us a great continuation of the story and comes with added unique elements that make for a very engaging watch. Coscarelli’s direction is fantastic, and it results in some great action supplied with live-action FX resulting in gory goodness.