Phantasm II (1988)
WRITER: Don Coscarelli
DIRECTOR: Don Coscarelli
STARRING: James Le Gros as Mike
Reggie Bannister as Reggie
Angus Scrimm as the Tall Man
Paula Irvine as Liz
Samantha Phillips as Alchemy
Kenneth Tigar as Father Meyers
QUICK CUT: A pair of thugs repeatedly break into mortuaries and burn them down, while an elderly man tries to get help.
Mike - Recasting does wonders! *ahem* Mike's a bit troubled, thanks to no one, not even Reggie, believing his story, but he's also got some great determination and loyalty.
Reggie - A middle aged ex ice cream truck driver, now recruited into the fight against the Tall Man. He's a good friend, who will always steps up when needed.
Liz - A strange woman with an even stranger connection to Mike. As is typical, she's not very well drawn, and is little more than a love interest and target for the Tall Man
Alchemy - Another woman they pick up along the way, who has a wonderful joy for life, but has a darker side, and a strange attraction for older men...
The Tall Man - The still mysterious force trudging through the country, collecting our dead, and always there when you least expect it.
THE GUTS: Welcome back, Triskelions, I hope you're enjoying this wonderful Smarch weather. I am still trying to sort out the wonderful fever dream that was the original Phantasm, and thought that maybe seeing the next movie could help clear a few things up. So let's see how things go!
The movie opens up in a bizarre way, introducing us to a young blonde woman, narrating about having strange visions, that led her to Mike and Reggie. And the movie loads up on a lot of reusable footage from the first movie. There's a few added bits that do actually help clarify the ending of that. Somewhat. Sorta.
And then we see Mike dragged through the mirror, as the last movie ended, and all that commotion gets Reggie's attention. Our heroic ice cream man runs up to the rescue, and watches the dwarves dragging the kid around. So less, "grabbed into the void" and more "dragged into the next room". That's fair.
He tries to get armed up with a shotgun, but as he's getting ready, a dwarf bursts out of the cabinet. But Reggie is no slouch, and beats the thing's head in with the butt of the shotgun.
But when he turns, Reggie finds he's surrounded by more Jawas than you can shake a gaffi stick at. He snuffs out the pilot lights on the stove, cranks up the gas, while looking at the fireplace burning in the other room. As the house slowly fills with gas, he climbs up a dumbwaiter, to try and get Mike before everything blows to Hell.
He finds a bat and beans the Jawannabe dragging Mike towards the stairs, then grabs the kid and they self defenestrate and run off as the house explodes wonderfully in the distance.
But with that end of the movie recapped and expanded (And Mike's face wonderfully hidden since they recast the role), it's back to Liz filling us in on some backstory. Including the Tall Man and friends, their goals of invading towns, plundering the graveyards to enslave the dead, and leaving nothing behind but ruin. Oh, and then we get some obligatory reused footage of the spheres.
The movie jumps forward a good number of years, Mike is grown up, late teens? and talking his way out of being locked up in an institution.
But from there, he immediately heads to the nearest cemetery to dig up some graves in a clear move of sanity. Reggie shows up, and weirdness starts to begin. Mike shows him all the empty graves he's found, and talks about the Tall Man, and Reggie has...no recollection of any of it?
So...what? What happened? Why...but...The last...gah.
Was...was the first movie just a dream? An alternate reality? A warning? But speaking of warnings, Mike hears the Tall Man's voice, and warns Reggie that his house is about to explode again...and it does just as they're driving up to it. If this is multiple realities, I love when events echo between Earth to Earth.
But this all suddenly makes Reggie a believer somehow, although I can think of several other more rational explanations, I'm willing to roll with them. So the pair pile into Reggie's Hemicuda and travel the country, doing what Jody would've wanted them to do; the family business, saving people, killing dwarves.
They hit the nearest hardware store and arm up, make some gear, and I sure do appreciate a good weapons montage. Bonus reminder, this is at the start of the movie. That's how you sequel. We already know the threat, so just dive right in.
They grab anything they can think of, including a trusty chainsaw, and Reggie cobbles together a double double barrelled shotgun. And if those first two explosions we've already gotten weren't enough for you, Mike makes a flamethrower, because more fire.
Our heroes roll into a town already used up by the Tall Man, and look for any sign of Lurch. They break into the mortuary and split up to search through it. Mike finds the preparation room, and if the corpse laying on the slab DISAPPEARS WHEN YOUR BACK IS TURNED...run away FAST.
They find someone huddled in a corner, covered in a blanket, and they play it safe, because it sure does look like one of the Jawas.
Mike pulls back the hood, and it's Liz! At last, the never met lovers can be reunited! ...Except for that thing pulsing under the cloak and OH GODS WHAT THE FUCK WHAT THE FUCK WHAT THE FUUUUUCK.
Seriousy, WTF. This was all a trick by the Tall Man, and to send a message to them, to come East. If they dare. Dude, DUDE. USE A PEN SIDESHOW BOB.
Reggie flamethrowers the freakshow, and they drive on to the nearest town east. Where the Actual Liz is, and they are burying her grandfather.
Not Laura Dern wanders around the funeral home, and she realises the things she's been seeing are not nightmares, but are somehow real, and she sends a mental distress signal to Mike. The two grab their things and hit the road to answer the Liz Signal.
After everyone leaves the funeral, the priest decides to take action, since he's seen some shit, and has to try and stop it...by plunging a knife into grandpa's chest. An act which does not go unnoticed by grams.
Back at the mortuary, Not Laura Dern is still wandering around, and they eventually do a recreation of the Tall Man jump scare introduction from the first movie, where he grabs her by the shoulder and tells her services are about to start outside.
The boys are still driving along, Mike sees a woman standing at the side of the road, and he recognises her as the dead body that went missing. When he wakes up, he sees Reggie picked her up. And her name is Alchemy. Well, this is all kinds of danger signs.
Mike at least wisely warns Reggie, who clearly has the hots for her, and dude. I did the math. She is 20 years younger than you. You could be her father. But anyways, they decide to keep her close, the better to protect her or keep an eye on her, whichever comes first
They find Alchemy's home, but it's been abandoned and boarded up, and oh no, however will they get in? Have no fear, Reggie has a skeleton chainsaw.
Our heroes weaponise the house in case anyone breaks in while Alchemy is sleeping, and they go to check the town out.
They hit up the local cemetery, and discover Gravers are already there digging up...wait wait, gravers? Hold on. Let me check the list...no no, these guys are new. What...ah, they are more larger minions that do the heavy lifting for the Tall Man, which I guess makes sense.
Meanwhile, Liz is also wandering around nearby, checking out the mortuary again, having been drawn there by the Tall Man kidnapping her grams.
Even the priest has come along to investigate and see what's going on, so it's a Dead Man's Party at the local mortuary!
The Tall Man himself shows up as the priest is blessing anything and everything he can to cleanse it of evil, but they are long past his help.
He uses his sudden mind powers to use the priest's rosary to lift him up and choke him, before it gives way and the man of God scurries off.
But as we all know, there's no running from the Tall Man, as he sends out his orby minions to go track the guy down.
The priest runs into Liz and tries to get her to leave, but he learns about the spheres first hand, or first ear rather, as one of them slices off his ear before embedding into his skull and draining him of blood.
Liz smartly runs away from that, but the Tall Man grabs her and flings her around for funsies. One of the Jawas comes along to say hello, and we learn it's her shrunken grams. (Fun fact! Played by Trisk favourite, Phil Fondacaro!)
She runs off and falls into a grave, and into Mike's arms. Finally. They know each other is real, and they head back to Alchemy's to regroup and get some rest, before the final battle.
And Reggie is still hitting on Alchemy. And she flirts back, taking off her top, and leading him upstairs. Wow, Reggie got laid. I guess it helps to be friends with the director.
One of the guns goes off, and it looks like an accidental firing from a squirrel that got splattered on their wall. At least, until Tall Dark and Broodsome shows up and steals Liz away from them.
Mile and Reggie head after them, and Alchemy tries to tag along, but Reg tells her to head south as far as she can, to stay safe.
We get a car chase, and the guys pull up alongside the hearse. Before Reggie can unload the double double, the Tall Dude pushes them off the road and the car flips. There's some drama with Reg being stuck as flames come closer, but everyone gets out okay before the explosion.
If that's not enough fire for ya, Liz has been taken to the crematorium, and we watch a coffin get torched as a demonstration, with more fire waiting.
While the flames get ready, the guys break in and search the place, and one of the morticians (Is he a graver? That would make sense), is cleaning out the last poor guy from the flames.
As the guys wander around, Reggie finds the device they use to drain the ketchup from people and refill them with mustard, and mmm, I want Phantasm Ball Stuck to People's Heads condiment dispensers. Ahem. He then pours in some acid so the next victim gets a surprise.
Mike also finds a doorway with a strange, round indentation with slits for a keyhole, and they surmise it must be a sphere lock. So they're off to catch one! Ahahaha.
The guy attending to Raimi's ashes, and Liz's immolation, finally decides to dump her into the flames...and she wakes up JUST as she's about to fall into the kiln, and rolls off to safety. She knocks her captor into the flames instead, and he goes up in smoke.
She runs, and one of the spheres finds her, but so does Mike, shoving her out of the way before it strikes. Hey folks, here's a pro tip for ya; if a shiny killer ball is flinging towards your face? DO NOT STAND THERE AND WATCH AS IT COMES FOR YOU.
It keeps coming though, and fortunately for our heroes, one of the morticians comes along, and gets accidentally pinned to a door with it.
They escape as Goldballs comes for them, and we jump over to Reggie, who is being attacked by a graver. He threatens him with the chainsaw and...the graver pulls out a larger, more chainsawier chainsaw.
The look of crushed hopes on Reg's face is priceless. He had a brilliant idea, and this guy just stops it dead with more power.
Meanwhile, Goldballs shows up, optic blasts a nearby rat as a show of power, and Mike and Liz run for it. It bashes through several doors trying to get them, and is slowed by a heavier door so they can catch their breath.
For all of five seconds before the man with no hand grabs Liz, and they use him as a human shield for the ball to hit first. It burrows into his back, through his chest, and gets lodged in his mouth. It's gruesome and disturbing and wonderful. Do not taunt Stabby Fun Ball.
Back with Reggie, he's still chainsword fighting the graver, who gets the upper hand since he has the clear reach advantage. Until Reggie gets knocked to the ground, and just as the graver is about to deal the killing blow, Reg grabs his own chainsaw and pulls a Running Man on the guy.
A bunch of Jawas show up, and we at least get to finally see the double double in action, as Reggie blows all four of them away at once.
Mike and Liz guess they're safe, head back out into the halls, and it's a good thing that one sphere embedded itself in that dude's hand, and he decided he'd be better off leaving it behind, because now they have a key. Mike yanks it from the door, keeping it stuck to the hand in hopes it will keep it quiet, and they pass it around like evil hand hot potato.
So they take the sphere, open the door, and find another white room with metallic goalposts. This movie follows a lot of the same story beats and pacing of the first, but definitely improves upon them.
But before they can shut it down, the Tall Man shows up, smacks Reggie aside, grabs the girl, and kicks Mike towards the portal to their homeworld.
The Tall Man gets ready to embalm Liz, as the two guys struggle to get back to our world and save the day. But they get out just in time, and Mike throws the ball back to its master, and let's just say the Tall Man sucks at catch.
It embeds in his head, spewing mustard, and the Tall Man just pulls out the ball and crushes it, as some weird tentacle thing pokes its way out to say hi to Mike.
While he's distracted with the Booooy, Liz pops up and stabs him with the embalmatron, and fills him with acid, in a wonderfully gory scene.
Now that the bad guy's taken care of, Reggie grabs the flamethrower, sets aflame the nearby bookcases, and everything ends in fire. Have I mentioned this is a wonderfully fiery movie, as Reggie continues burning everything as they walk out.
They get outside and Alchemy drives up in a hearse she hotwired earlier in the movie. Good thing she didn't follow Reggie's instructions, and they have a getaway car.
So they drive off away from the fireset, Mike and Liz get ready to get busy in the back, and things seem great with Reg and Alchemy...but as he brushes his fingers through her hair, a chunk of her scalp peels off, and we learn she's a minion of the Tall Man, I guess.
Poor, poor Reggie. He falls for a hot girl half his age, who seems super into him, but she turns out to be evil and she dumps him...LITERALLY on the side of the road, as the hearse drives off into the credits, helmed by the Tall Man. To be fair, this makes about as much sense as the ending of the last movie. Moreso, even.
Video: This looks great. It's a solid presentation, and Shout Factory always does good work.
Audio: A good surround mix, that gives plenty of space for buzzing spheres and growly Tall Men.
Sound Bite: "You think that when you die, you go to heaven. You come to US."
Body Count: This started out slowly, but it really goes places towards the end, even if a lot of them are the dwarves.
1 - 4:45 minutes in and Reggie pounds one of the dwarves to pulp with the butt of a shotgun.
2 - Not Liz Tall Man spine monster thing gets barbecued.
3 - The priest gets killed by a ball.
4 - One of the minions gets cremated.
5 - Another minion gets a gold ball drilling into his back and up through his head
6 - Graver takes a chainsaw to the crotch.
7 - 10 - Four dwarves get taken out with the super shotgun'
11 - Tall Man gets embalmed in acid
Best Corpse: Oh, how do you NOT go with the gold ball jammed in the mouth? That is visceral, as it drills through the guy, and is so memorable.
Blood Type - A-: This has quite a lot of blood, from a random animal we never see splattered on a wall, to missing ears, and even lots of yellow blood. And the makeup effects are top notch even beyond that.
Sex Appeal: Supplies pretty much completely by naked Alchemy
Drink Up! For the first ten minutes, until things start making sense.
Video Nasties: Again, that goldball kill is a standout of this movie.
Movie Review: Okay, leaving aside the confounding nonsense at the start of the movie, which is as much part of the Phantasm style as not, this is a great movie. It's more action and adventure than true, deep horror, but there's plenty of that too, and is splitting hairs. The roadtrip is a lot of fun, the goals are clear, and there's a lot of surprises. Coscarelli is a great writer and director, and he mixes together all these dream like elements and makes a compelling story that never quite gives you ALL the answers, but doesn't leave you wondering what was going on, in the broad strokes. Angus Scrimm is great, all the actors are, and I'm not even bothered at all by the recasting of Mike. Five out of five gold balls.
Entertainment Value: I don't want to say there are campy or goofy elements here, because while little dwarves are strange, and shiny spheres flying at you are weird, as is people who spew yellow goo. But the movie never treats them as camp, and it somehow makes them threatening at worst, terrifying at best. There are still a few grin worthy moments, and questionable acting, but it's still fun. The arming up scene is iconic of 80s media, and done spectacularly well here, with fun and creativity. This movie is iconic in so many ways. They gave Scrimm more to do this time out, and he remains terrifying and fun, while never feeling overplayed. You get MORE, but never enough. Phantasm II is fun, compelling, and a must see. Five out of five black barrels of monkeys.