PHANTASM IIMOVIE REVIEW
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PHANTASM was and remains Writer/Director Don Coscarelli (PHANTASM [all], BEAST MASTER,SURVIVAL QUEST) masterpiece. While Coscarelli has never been the best writer, what he lacked in storytelling ability, he more than made up for in vision and cinematography. I mean PHANTASM! WOW!
PHANTASM II starts off where PHANTASM left us, with additional scenes of Mike and Reggie that were cut from the first movie. This kind of disturbs continuity because when the film fast forwards ahead to the present, 8 years later, A. Michael Baldwin (PHANTASM, PHANTASM III, PHANTASM IV) is no longer playing Mike. The new actor is James LeGros (NEAR DARK, ENEMY OF THE STATE), whose facial features and beefy build are all wrong for Mike. Thankfully we have good old Reggie (Reggie Bannister: PHANTASM [all], WISHMASTER, BUBBA HO-TEP) who is a staple of the PHANTASM series and the awkward but nearly brave clod that we secretly recognize in ourselves.
Bad things are happening to Mike and Reggie. The Tall Man (Angus Scrimm: PHANTASM [all], TRANSYLVANIA TWIST, MINDWARP, SUBSPECIES, WISHMASTER) once thought dead, has returned. The Tall Man is no small potatoes villain a la Jason or Michael Myers. The Tall Man doesn't kill off individuals or even towns. He is killing the world! That's some scope, you know?
Mike is having visions, he "sees" in his dreams a young woman calling his name. She is in trouble, The Tall Man has come to her town. Paula Irvine (BATES MOTEL [TV - 1987]) is Liz, the damsel in distress. Her parents are dead, her grandfather is dying, and her grandmother may be next. Through her psychic bond with Mike, she draws him to her and her town, and a confrontation with the Tall Man.
This movie, while not being as original as the first, never the less raises the ante with creepier scenes, spookier settings, and greater depth into the mystery that is The Tall Man. PHANTASM II is more of an action film compared to PHANTASM's more mysterious scariness. PHANTASM II goes less for "Boo!" and more for blood. And speaking of blood, there is more than just one kind of ball this time too, those deadly orbs that, once seen are hard to forget. Lots of people I know who have watched the PHANTASM movies swear to the occasional nightmare about those balls.
PHANTASM II, like PHANTASM is an aquired taste. Not everybody likes it or wants to. Writer/Director Don Coscarelli (PHANTASM [all], BEASTMASTER) has a unique writing style that has carried him through 3 decades but eluded major success throughout that term. He has essentially dedicated his life to making PHANTASM movies which, to this day, remain his babies. The films are visionary enough to have amassed a tight, cult following.
When the execrable PHANTASM IV: Oblivion was released, it split that cult in half. On one side were those who felt that the series was destroyed. On the other side were the rabid diehards who would praise Don slavishly if he just kept a close-up of Angus Scrimm's face squinting evilly at the camera for 90 minutes. After 4, Don said that he wasn't making any more PHANTASM movies, which hit and hurt hard the "Phans" who despised PHANTASM IV and didn't want to see the series end so ignobly. Since his first announcement, Don has had a change of heart and has said that he will indeed make PHANTASM V. Everybody who cares is keeping their fingers crossed that he will come up with the funding.
It sounds odd, doesn't it? For a movie to possess that kind of fan base? To understand that kind of love for the series, you will simply have to watch them. You will know after PHANTASM, whether or not you are hooked. PHANTASM II gets even better, and PHANTASM III, well, that's another review.
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