Movie Reviews 220 – Phantasm II (1988)

Phantasm 2The first Phantasm movie was unlike anything I’d never seen before. A movie that defies comparison by creating a unique mood from a blend of horror and fantasy, but falling into neither category. The story of a young boy named Mike who gets a glimpse into the mysterious on goings of a towering undertaker who transforms dead bodies into midget zombies with the ultimate goal of world domination, the human element was magnified by the fact that the boy recently lost his parents. The indie acclaimed hit by writer-director-producer Don Coscarelli featured a mausoleum with a portal to another world, metallic flying balls with spring loaded blades, suped up cars, an ice cream vendor confidant and a reality bending ending. What more could you ask for?

Filmed nearly a decade later, and with the tagline “The ball is back” Phantasm II picks up that same mind bending vibe without missing a beat with the exception that the role of Mike is played by James LeGros, a different and more subdued actor for this installment in the franchise.

Mike, now in an mental institution, convinces his keepers that he has accepted that his crazy story of a Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) exhuming the recently deceased in order to transform them in midget hooded zombies was nothing but his imagination. But as soon as he is released he heads for the cemetery to dig up his parents grave to confirm that they were indeed victims of the Tall Man. Joined by his brother’s old buddy Reggie (Reggie Bannister), he tries vainly to convince him that what the experienced in the first movie was all real, but at this point Reggie has doubts and even exposing the empty graves doesn’t convince him. It’s only as they return home and when Mike’s dream of an explosion killing Reggie’s family becomes a reality that Reggie joins Mike on a armed mission to hunt down the Tall Man and they begin their hunt going from one small town to another.

Meanwhile another girl named Liz (Paula Irvine) has also had dreams of the Tall Man and after her grandfather dies her grandmother is snatched by the Tall Man. Her rescue journey puts her on the same path as the boys and with the addition of a mysterious hitchhiker named Alchemy (Samantha Phillips) the newly forged quartet finally confront the Tall Man and his minions in small town Périgord, Oregon.

There are plenty of cool shenanigans including a priest gone wild, acid tainted embalming fluid, chainsaws and of course the requisite brief portal excursions to the Tall Man’s planet. It’s as insane as the first movie with the expected slight decrease in novelty, but just as enjoyable as the first time. I did miss the old Mike (formerly played by A. Michael Baldwin) but the producers corrected that mistake in the two installments that followed, and the fifth movie that is still awaiting a release.

I want more balls!

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