Phantasm II (1988)
Directed By: Don Coscarelli
Where to get it: Universal
It took nearly 10 years for Phantasm to get a sequel. But that sequel, Phantasm II, came out in 1988 and had a much larger budget and also some unwanted input by a bigger studio. Don Cascarelli was able to bring back Reggie Bannister as “Reggie”, but he was forced to recast the role of Mike. They were also told to give Mike a female love interest. Oddly enough, to spite being really different than the original people seem to really praise this sequel. I however am not as impressed.
Mike is released from psychiatry, when he agrees with the doctors that the terrible happenings in his past were just in his imagination. But once he’s free, he contacts Redge and they team up to hunt down and eliminate the “Tall Man”, who plunders the graveyards and abducts the sleeping with help of his terrible gnomes. A beautiful strange girl starts to appear in Mike’s dreams. He assumes she’s in danger and needs their help – will they find her before the Tall Man can do her any harm?
Phantasm II is a big 180 from the original in a lot of ways. Another thing left out of this one that was due to the input by the studio was the fact that nobody is having a lot of weird dreams that make the viewer think they are real only to wake up moments later. Now don’t get me wrong, Mike and his lady friend Liz have had visions in this thing, but they are much more straight forward. Some liked that better. I on the other hand think it just lacks the major feel of every other Phantasm film to be released. Still, I would say that this movie does have it’s merits.
Reggie is more comical, but he’s the Reggie everyone who loves the series remember and is more fond of. The Tall Man is in pure form here, as Angus Scrimm is in the style and rhythm most associated with the franchise. Mike is recast sadly, so we really aren’t that fond of him. Instead of the tormented and confused Mike we get in every other Phantasm film, as played most notably by A. Michael Baldwin. This time around we have more of a pretty boy, in an obvious act by the studio to make the ladies more interested in the film. While usually the plot of Phantasm seems to be Reggie, Mike, and friends trying to run from The Tall Man all the while trying to figure out a way to stop him, this time Mike and Reggie are chasing down The Tall Man and it just doesn’t seem like Phantasm.
With the bigger budget did come more gore, effects, visuals, and flying balls. And to be honest, this is the film in the series that many want to praise next to the original. But I just didn’t share those same feelings. And as weird as it may sound, I believe I actually prefer part four of Phantasm slightly over this one. It’s not a horrible film. It is packed with what are probably the best two characters doing their signature stuff. I just think when compared to the feel of the others, it just kinda seems different. And different in this case isn’t the best thing.
This is the only Phantasm that us Americans can’t get by Anchor Bay. Universal seems to hold this one hostage and while it was nice of them to put it out on DVD with the others being put out, they could have at least given us a commentary track. Which those of you who own it already know, it’s as bear bone as a DVD can get. Still, not horrible and if you love the series you just have to own it too.
The Rating (6/10)