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Phantasm II (1988)

DVD Cover (Universal)
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 / 10
5 votes
Movie Connections:
> Phantasm (1979)
> Phantasm II (1988)
> Phantasm III: Lord Of The Dead (1994)
> Phantasm IV: Oblivion (1998)
Horror, Supernatural Horror
Don Coscarelli Don Coscarelli
James Le Gros James Le Gros
Reggie Bannister Reggie Bannister
Angus Scrimm Angus Scrimm
Paula Irvine Paula Irvine
Samantha Phillips Samantha Phillips
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Review by Crispy
Added: February 24, 2010
It's a widely accepted rule that sequels are always of lesser quality than the original outing, and since I found the first Phantasm pretty disappointing, not to mention that part two was released a whopping nine years after, I had low hopes going into it. However, there are exceptions to every rule, and this is without the shadow of a doubt one of those exceptions.

So while the first film did a shitty job explaining it, making the finale insanely confusing, the entire thing sans the last five minutes was Mike's dream. When he wakes up from it, he goes up stairs and the Tall Man pulls him through his mirror. Part two picks up directly from this point, and Reggie's efforts to save the boy from the Tall Man and his gang of evil Jawas, in the process blowing up his entire house. But wait. Turns out this whole ordeal was a dream too, and has spent the last six years in a mental institution. Apparently, there is a girl somewhere who has been having dreams of Mike and the Tall Man, and has been calling to him psychically for help. Mike "feigns sanity" to get the administration to sign his walking powers, and meets back up with Reggie. After he has a premonition of Reggie's house actually blowing up, killing Reggie's family in the process, Reggie starts to take him seriously and they set off in search of this girl and the Tall Man, convinced they can put him down for good.

OK, I know when it's spelled out like that, it sounds really corny, but it's not nearly as bad in application, and makes for a much better movie than the incoherent mess that was Phantasm. For starters, it goes back a bit and explains what the hell is going on. No, we still don't know who, or what, the Tall Man is, but at least we're given an M.O., which is so much better than wondering "OK, what exactly is this guy trying to accomplish?" which the first film never delivers. It gives the franchise a much needed direction.

Not only does it just best the original, but it also stands just fine on its own. As Mike and Reggie move from town to town, always one step behind the Tall Man, there are some decently tense scenes waiting to see what kind of traps the Tall Man has left behind for our viewers. The final confrontation is also extremely well done, right down to the closing seconds which nailed so efficiently what the first one was trying to. And c'mon, who doesn't love a four barrel shotgun?

James LeGros takes over as Mike, and put on a much better performance than A. Michael Baldwin's annoying portrayal, although to be fair there is a huge age difference. However, Baldwin returns to the role in the following sequels, so we'll have to see how that goes. Paula Irvine earned no complaints in her role, nor did Samantha Philips. Reggie Bannister and of course Angus Scrimm return from Phantasm and both put on a good show. I particularly love Scrimm's growling "Boy" whenever he addresses Mike; it puts a smile on my face every time.

After sitting through the first one, I fully agreed with Tristan that it in no way warranted any kind of sequel, but after this it's so much easier to see where the franchise's cult status comes from. Hell, even Friday the 13th didn't really get rolling until part three. Either way, Phantasm II has definitely earned itself a high six-low seven, not to mention some hope for parts three and four.
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Chad #1: Chad - added 03/07/2010, 10:43 PM
As a "legit" horror movie, this one wasn't as good as the original. On the flip side, it was a better "campy entertainment" flick. I don't think either film is better than the other, it's just more of what you're in the market for. As a standalone movie, I thought it was decent - it wasn't a classic, it wasn't trash, and it was a little better than average. So, same rating here that I gave the first movie: 7/10.
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