Phantasm II (1988) Movie Review
Written By: Angela DiLella
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: Don Coscarelli
Producers: Roberto A. Quezada
Writers: Don Coscarelli
Date Released: July 8, 1988
Angus Scrimm as The Tall Man
James LeGros as Mike Pearson
Reggie Bannister as Reggie
Paula Irvine as Liz Reynolds
Rating = 2/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
Mike (James LeGros), recovering from his first brush with the Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) as a preteen, begins receiving visions from a young woman named Liz (Paula Irvine) who is afraid that the Tall Man will come for her family. Mike and Reggie head out to Oregon to try and stop him.
Although it’s a different kind of gore you would be expecting to see from other popular eighties horror franchises, the movie brings it, which for the most part looks realistic. The climax relies more on pus/miscellaneous goo effects rather than a whole lot of blood and guts, which makes it more memorable (and grosser for the right viewer).
The Grave Review
Phantasm II takes the Tall Man conflict to the road. Both Mike and Reggie arm themselves to the teeth, pick up girlfriends, and get ready to stop the Tall Man once and for all. Although it’s easy to reduce the movie down to its bare essentials, when actually watching the movie, it can be difficult to follow. The movie seems to meander often and although many elements pay off, it is sometimes unclear why things are happening when they are.
Angus Scrimm is just as creepy as the Tall Man as he was in the first Phantasm, though he feels underutilized in this movie. He has a group of unexplained cronies in this movie (Tall Men?) who carry the show when he isn’t around, with Mark Anthony Major stealing the antagonist role as an inhuman, almost robotic mortician, preparing to incinerate Liz, who is clearly still alive, in a deliciously tense scene.
Phantasm II doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be. It’s a somewhat clumsy sequel (though I do think it clarifies some elements of the mythos well) that is sometimes a road movie, sometimes something of a ‘cabin-in-the-woods’ premise, and a halfhearted gorefest which eventually returns to its roots, with some odd interludes along the way. Apparently, there was a lot of pressure from the studio to make it a certain way so it could resemble other popular eighties horror films and franchises and the studio refused to even allow director Don Coscarelli to film certain scenes and sequences, period. Coscarelli isn’t to blame for how Phantasm II turned out, but it still doesn’t mean we can’t wish it could have been better.
That said, the movie had strong moments, and it delivered in some of the exact same areas that the first Phantasm did. The sound design and score are perfect—unexpected considering the rest of the film—and the special effects still hold up. The silver spheres take on some new, weird abilities that sometimes feel like a bit much, but still look convincing even when they appear to be operating as transparent ploys to get the gorehounds in the door. The scene in the crematorium that I’ve already mentioned is the strongest of the whole movie, painfully tense as we watch a mortician mechanically cremate a body, crush bone fragments that didn’t incinerate properly, and complete his usual routine, knowing full well that Liz is next. I would almost recommend looking up and watching just this scene, especially if you are not very invested in the series.
For the foregoing reasons, Grave Reviews gives Phantasm II (1988) two graves out of five graves.
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