DVD REVIEW: PHANTASM II (1988)

PHANTASM II

Say hello to The Tall Man's little friend

Say hello to The Tall Man's little friend

Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment

Starring: James Le Gros, Reggie Bannister, Angus Scrimm

Plot: Set nine years after the events of the original Phantasm, this first sequel sees Mike (Le Gros, replacing the original’s Michael Baldwin) committed to a mental institution. After all, who’s going to believe his stories of the Tall Man (Scrimm), his dwarfish minions, and flying killer silver balls? Liz (Paula Irvine) for one. Tied to Mike psychically, she warns Mike that Reggie (Bannister) has been attacked by The Tall Man. Getting himself released, Mike meets up with Reggie, and they soon team up to track down the yellow-blooded Tall Man and put a stop once and for all to his grave-robbing.

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Thoughts: Phantasm (1979), writer-director Don Coscarelli’s low-budget tale of an intergalactic grave-robber and his flying killer balls, suffered from dodgy plotting and amateurish acting but has inspired much warmth in the horror community thanks to the unbridled enthusiasm of its creator and cast. The result is a mini-cult that financed three sequels, made the balls famous, and allowed stars Angus Scrimm and Reggie Bannister a career in horror.

     Phantasm II sees Coscarelli playing with a bigger budget, and he uses it to blow up shit and spill a lot more blood and guts. The story makes a bit more sense this time, but Phantasm II really plays to the things fans of the original want to see more of: Reggie’s horndog antics, The Tall Man growling “Boy!”, and those flying silver balls drilling into people’s heads.

On those counts, it scores high marks. (Not so Universal, who released the film to DVD this September in a barebones edition.) Ultimately, though, Phantasm II replaces its predecessor’s more surreal tendencies in favour of spectacle (exploding houses, multiple flying ball eviscerations), which is entertaining but does little to engender any desire for repeated viewings. And who is The Tall Man? Once again, we are left with wondering why he is stealing bodies. And why silver balls?

Phantasm II is fun but certainly doesn’t leave me wanting a second sequel. Oh wait, there are three sequels. Play me a tune, Reggie.

Link: www.phantasm.com

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