Phantasm II - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Phantasm II Reviews

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Super Reviewer
October 20, 2015
I might be in the minority when I say that Don Coscarelli's 1979 outing Phantasm was an obscenely overrated relic that has only calcified with age. I shouldn't have been preternaturally excited for the sequel but fortified with Universal Studio's financial upgrade and James LeGros in the lead role now, my expectations were cantilevered into the positive column. After a recap of the previous finale, Phantasm II delivers on the promise of a more fluid, kinetic successor. Reggie's (Reggie Bannister) escape from The Tall Man's (Angus Scrimm) monastic midgets is a dynamite set piece. By now, Phantasm is renowned for two things- Scrimm and the silver balls. And the drilling mutilation via the forehead is more satisfyingly graphic than before and the dental-instrument sound F/X really amplify the cringe factor. A Cuisinart comparison is quite appropriate. The dream logic might be gone but, I for one, haven't missed the masturbatory abstraction of them. Streamlined is better for Coscarelli's splanchnic vision. Reggie and Michael are flamethrower-and-shotgun-touting vigilantes and their makeshift weapons from a hardware store reinforce the notion that Phantasm II is a disparate beast from the former with more action-movie firepower and velocity. Once again the musical theme by Fred Myrow is contagiously creepy. Coscarelli nails the gothic atmosphere of a Hammer film inside velvet-draped corridors and echoing mausoleums. Scrimm is still a towering presence that will induce heart palpitations in spades. The road trip from cemetery to cemetery in pursuit of Liz Reynolds (Paula Irvine), a clairvoyant with an ill-defined connection to Michael (LeGros), is patently incomprehensible. This is very much classified in the style-over-substance subcategory but that is hardly a misstep. The balding Lothario Bannister isn't a polished thespian but his horny shtick is amusing nonetheless ("It gets hard on the road") and his chemistry with LeGros is airtight. Regardless of my antipathy towards the first film, part 2 is a rip-roaring, albeit daffy rollercoaster through Perigord Mortuary. A retread of the original's sequel-bait ending is an anticlimax though.
Super Reviewer
½ November 30, 2012
With director Don Coscarelli having created one of the best works in horror cinema in 1979 with the original Phantasm, he would take his time and nine years later would craft a solid follow-up with this sequel. Although not as masterful as the original, Coscarrelli manages to deliver effective chills that will certainly appeal to diehard fans of the original. Angus Scrimm returns as The Tall Man, one of the most iconic horror villains in the genre. Phantasm II is a respectable and very entertaining entry and I really enjoyed the tone and atmosphere of the picture. Coscarelli manages to expand the plot a bit, but never adds anything refreshing to the plot. There's everything you'd expect from a Phantasm flick, and Coscarelli pulls out enough tricks to keep the fans happy. The aspect of this sequel that stands out as usual is The Tall Man, he makes up for the shortcomings that the plot sometimes has. The script suffers from all the usual weaknesses of a sequel; however director Coscarelli relies more on visuals and atmosphere to tell his story. The result is a very good horror flick that delivers an entertaining hour and a half of effective terror. The performances are very good as well, and this is among the best horror sequels made in the genre. If you can forget its flaws, you're sure to enjoy this one. With familiar territory, The Tall Man is pursued by Reggie and Mike, and is a bit predictable at times. The ideas here are good, but could have been done a bit better. As I stated, there's nothing new going on here, but that shouldn't keep the fans away from seeing this one. l simply put, a well done film with the steel ball and The Tall Man, what else could you ask for?
Super Reviewer
½ May 3, 2007
Fantastic follow-up to a great horror classic. Even though it doesn't include the kid who was in the original to play his role, it's still entertaining as hell.
Super Reviewer
½ September 6, 2010
This sequel continues a few years after the first, and it's much like the first one, but we get to know a little more about the Tall man. It's got a more 80s feel than the first, and the end is kinda disappointing, but I kinda liked it too.
Super Reviewer
½ August 29, 2007
In the tradition of other horror movie franchises, Phantasm takes the action route for this sequel. The horror and sci-fi are still there but there's more combat, stuff blowing-up and gore than there was before. I suppose it does keep things fresh but it does get a bit too tongue-in-cheek sometimes. Kinda like Evil Dead II, I'm not sure if this really fits in with the tone set by the first film.

Phantasm II begins right after where the first film left off. The freaky dwarfs have invaded Mike's home and Reggie must foil the Tall Man's attempts at kidnapping him. Flash forward seven years and Mike is in a mental institution. He is released upon admitting that the whole Phantasm experience was made up only to find that in his absence the Tall Man has been plundering many of America's small towns and thousands of graves are empty.

After the Tall Man kills Reggie's family in a gas explosion, Reg teams up with Mike to hunt him down and kick his head in...again. All they have to do is follow the trail of dead people, right? And this time they are ready for whatever outlandish tricks he's ready to play on them, armed to the teeth with quadruple-barrelled shotguns, flame-throwers and chainsaws. Complicating matters are Mike's inexplicable visions of the future and psychic connections to a mysterious girl he has never met before.

As before, the Tall Man is the best thing in the film. Angus Scrimm is so wonderfully silent and unholy that no matter how slick and entertaining the rest of the film is he'll come out on top.

Don Coscarelli was given a budget 10 times that of the original by Universal, but they did interfere with production quite a lot, much to his annoyance. They said that only one of the original cast members could return, so he chose Reggie Bannister and re-cast Mike with James LeGros (after turning down Brad Pitt!). It does kind of ruin the continuity a bit but it's not terribly distracting.

They also demanded a more simple and linear story, so don't expect any of the bizarre dream sequences and flashbacks. If you're a big fan of the first this might seem disappointing but you know how studios love to think less of their audiences.

The higher budget helps Phantasm to have a bigger scope than the original. The first half of the film feels like a road movie with lots of pretty scenery while the rest is kind of like a low-rent Ghostbusters/Lost Boys clone. Which sounds like a negative point, but the hokey tone of the film vanishes when it heads off into HP Lovecraft territory.

If you're looking for answers as to what the first film was all about then you won't find many. In fact it raises more questions than anything else. But it's still a fun ride. I'm just kind of annoyed that the music took the more generic synth approach that was common in the 80's instead of the funky 70's beats we got before. The main Phantasm theme is still there for your enjoyment however and gets a great finish on the end credits.
Super Reviewer
½ June 7, 2007
This movie raises the Phantasm series another notch, with a higher budget and lots of gory action. This first film was groudbreaking and lighthearted, but this one goes to the max with tons of innovative gore effects done realistically. The scenery and tone is dark and spooky, with enough black humour to keep it going. This is the most satisfying film in the Phantasm series. It's very well done and highly recommended for horror fans.
Ryan M
Super Reviewer
½ March 3, 2012
*** out of ****

It's not easy having to review the sequel to a movie that you so passionately cherish, but here it goes. As it is, I have just started playing the theme from the original "Phantasm" so that the process of reviewing the sequel, "Phantasm II", will be as painless as possible. I'm thinking that perhaps the music will put me in a sort of trance, making things easier on myself. Before I go any further, let me just say that I am not implying that this is a bad sequel - in fact, on the contrary, it's actually a pretty good one by my standards - although when watching it, I was bothered by the fond memories that I had of director Don Coscarelli's original masterpiece of the surreal and the macabre. This second coming came out just ten years after the first, thus a few of the returning actors have aged rather noticeably and the original has garnered a strong cult following, but Coscarelli hasn't changed a bit.

I admire Coscarelli. He's an imaginative fellow; and in every interview I've watched regarding him and whatever film that has been made the subject, he seems like a very friendly and down-to-earth guy. Just recently I've watched an interview he did with actor Angus Scrimm on a T.V. talk show back in 1979, when "Phantasm" was just not getting its theatrical release. This interview can be found on the most recent Anchor Bay DVD re-release/restoration of "Phantasm", and it's easily one of the best I've seen. Knowing Coscarelli's background makes it all the more enjoyable to watch one of his movies, and I think this interview certainly helped me to just take "Phantasm II" for what it is; a whole lot of dumb, ridiculous, gory fun. It's not as good as the first film in the franchise (which has spawned two more sequels since this one), but on its own grounds, I've judged it fairly; and I had a really good time watching and admiring it in all its absurd glory.

Picking up six years after the events of "Phantasm", the sequel begins with a revealing flashback sequence in which Mike (Michael A. Baldwin) and family friend Reggie (Reggie Bannister) look back on the events that occurred during the storyline of the first film, only for the notorious Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) to attack them once again. Fast-forward to now present day, and Mike (now played by James LeGrose) has been transferred to a mental institution, and is just now being allowed to return back home once again. Reggie's home, that is. Once the two reunite and catch up, they decide the best way to make up for lost time, in their case, is to stock up on chainsaws/shotguns/blowtorches so that they may successfully hunt down the Tall Man and avenge Reggie's house, which blew up in a fire when The Tall Man and his little Jawa-esque minions invaded it.

There's also a blonde-haired girl who Mike is having strange visions of; he senses that she is real, and that she also is aware of The Tall Man's presence. So would most people, if they or their small towns lived to tell the tale (it's said that you can tell where the Tall Man has been if the area is desolate and destroyed). There's also a priest who gets his ear sliced off by one of those flying metal balls that The Tall Man controls, and a lady for Reggie too! A record number of scenes take place in morgues, funeral homes, graveyards, and creepy old houses. But this is a horror film by way of Don Coscarelli, and I honestly wouldn't have it any other way.

After "Phantasm", Coscarelli decided to lay low for a while until he got enough money to make a more expansive and overall bigger version of his classic original. "Phantasm" was a low-budget horror feature in which Coscarelli had to make do with what resources he had, whilst this sequel has all the special effects that money can buy. It's impressive and slightly maddening at the same time; Coscarelli is intelligent and gifted enough to work with these effects to create something that is stimulating for the mind and the imagination, although it's also sort of sad to see him so detached from his usual minimalist/independent/low-budget style. But you know what...this is still quite solid. For what it is, "Phantasm II" could have easily been a lot worse; and yes, it's a mess, but it does have a lot of what the original had, and more. Whether you will enjoy it or not is based almost entirely on what you liked about "Phantasm" and how much you liked those things. If you enjoyed the company of these characters - and can do fine without the presence of Michael Baldwin - then you will appreciate what the sequel has to offer.

While this is clearly not the great film that "Phantasm" was, I still enjoyed a good portion of it. There are some noticeable flaws, and it could have used some polishing, but it makes up for most of its short-comings with some good laughs, some truly bad-ass moments, some solid performances, and great make-up effects. Also, the cinematography is both gorgeous and likably quirky, at times. Coscarelli has complete control over his vision with "Phantasm II" - with the themes of death and existentialism from the film being brought over to the sequel with some mixed but entertaining results - and it just boosts my confidence in the man. I believe that if he's allowed to have fun, then he can do just about anything, even if he doesn't have much to work with. This isn't his best movie, but as a film that fulfills the desire to see images of pale corpses and mutilated human flesh, you'll likely have a ball.
Super Reviewer
October 27, 2011
This is the perfect example of a movie that is to similar to the original they play it safe and try nothing new. That‚(TM)s understandable if a formula works don‚(TM)t change it but this gets to a point where they basically recreate entire scenes from the first one. The plot is two guys are out to destroy Tall Man the interdimensional serial killer whose weapon of choice is 3 floating spike balls of death with drills at the end. Yeah if you thought Freddy‚(TM)s weapon was original well just look Tall Mans any way they eventually find him and well do all the same stuff from before. It‚(TM)s a really predictable sequel but it‚(TM)s got nice special effects and Tall Mans death scene is the highlight.
Super Reviewer
April 30, 2007
Released and set nine years after the first film, Phantasm II is a very worthy sequel, in fact I'd say it's even better than its predecessor. With a budget roughly six times that of Phantasm, Don Cascarelli has crafted a more focused film with a tighter script that works because its a direct follow on from the first film, rather than a retread. (And you'll need to be familiar with events from the first instalment if you have any hope in following this one, as aside from the clunky flashback-heavy prologue, there's very little exposition.) The silver spheres, the dwarves (now even more creepy) and the Tall Man all make welcome and inventive returns, the story finding new and imaginative uses for them. Phantasm II builds on the atmosphere of dread adding new kinks with a fixation on some of the more gruesome aspects of the mortuary business (formaldehyde, incinerators and scalpels are some of the additions). Inevitably, letting the side down somewhat is the acting - the two female leads are pretty dreadful, though James LeGros (November, Scotland, PA) is an interesting choice as Mike. Reggie Bannister, reprising his role as 'Reggie' from the first film, seems to be doing some sort of aged Bruce Campbell impersonation, which is frankly a little embarrassing. Speaking of which, if I were to compare this to another horror sequel then Evil Dead II definitely springs to mind; there's even some 'camera on a stick' sequences that are recognisable from Sam Raimi's film. A great sequel to an undisputed classic.
Super Reviewer
½ May 16, 2007
Superior sequel to cult classic type movie. 9 years later and The Tall Man is back for revenge and also to take over another town with his metal sphere's and zombie dwarf people! Fun old school stuff.
Super Reviewer
½ August 20, 2007
I liked this sequel better than the original. The Tall Man is seen more and the spheres come into play more. The dwarves are even creepier. The higher budget is obvious as the gore factor turns up a notch.
Super Reviewer
July 30, 2007
Not a patch on 1 but still great.
November 2, 2010
I somehow managed to see this film before the original, so I would almost have to say that I like it more than the first one, and it still holds a lot of fun, nostalgic feelings for me.

James LeGros replaced the child actor from the first film this time around, but the rest of the cast remains the same, including ice-cream selling Reggie who rises to the occasion to become a warrior against a rising army of the dead.

½ September 18, 2009
While Phantasm II pales in comparison to the majesty of the original, it is rather impressive for a sequel and features many new twists and turns to the story that are accompanied by increased amounts of weirdness, imaginatively gory death sequences, new attachements to the balls, Evil Dead like alterations of weapons (including flamethrowers and four-barrelled shotguns), more evil dwarves, etc. Set immediately after the first film and helmed again by Coscarelli, Phantasm II further blurs the line between different sci-fi and horror sub-genres to create a wonderfully fun and original piece of fantastic filmmaking.
April 9, 2013
The only film in the Series so far not to star A. Michael Baldwin as Mike, this film has been widely panned by lovers of the original and has been often disassociated with the other films. In truth it is not a bad film. In many ways, Phantasm II is your standard horror movie. Yet it furthers the story of both Mike and The Tall Man. For that reason alone, it is worth watching. Phantasm II is worth watching on a discount service. (D+)
November 9, 2011
Normally I'd say they could have stopped at the first one, but in this case the whole franchise probably should not have been written at all...These movies were horribly stupid."
February 8, 2011
A lot believe this is better than the first, but I disagree. It's still great. I'm glad Coscarelli stayed on board.
½ August 29, 2010
First of all, I was disappointed that Baldwin was replaced, he was the main character! From that point on I didn't think I would enjoy this movie, I thought the first movie ended perfectly, why continue it? Then, we started to get more explanation for the tall man, as the characters now know what is really going on. Plus we get to see those weird flying balls of death again, which is cool, they really make the Phantasm series stand out. This movie is slightly different from the first, but the atmosphere stays the same, so I have to say this is a pretty good movie.
July 15, 2009
Didn't quite understand this movie. Too many weird creature things. But I liked the ending though. I think this movie could of been a lot better and shorter, but oh well, its old. I may have missed something thought cause I don't get how there can be that many sequels.
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