31 Days of Horror: Movie #5 PHANTASM II
I’ve never seen any of the Phantasm sequels before today (they’re currently working on Phantasm 5). The series goes back to the 70s and remains a favorite of horror fans today. I saw the original almost ten years ago so my memory of it is a bit fuzzy, which made watching Phantasm II kind of weird. I was lost from time to time. I remembered the monsters but not exactly what they were about and I had no memory of the heroes whatsoever. I figured it out as the film progressed – mostly – and was able to just go with it.
So, there exists this Tall Man, an evil undertaker (from another dimension? From Hell? Outer space?) that travels the world leaving death in his wake. The towns he visits become ghost towns and he digs up graveyards, turning the dead into monstrous midgets to do his bidding. It’s strange, man. The heroes who survived the Tall Man in the first film lost much in the encounter (I guess?) and now they’re taking the fight to the Tall Man, hunting the villain across the country.
I liked the first film considerably more (and I don’t really count myself a fan of that film). Too much of Phantasm II is without form, kind of listless, like it doesn’t know how to make the horror story/road movie combo work. Writer/director Don Coscarelli (Bubba Ho-tep!) is an imaginative, weird dude, and even when the film’s not totally working at least it’s always original and surprising. The film goes out on a high note with a great final 30 minutes full of monsters, chainsaw fights, shocking gore, and plenty of “oh shit!” moments that should make horror fans happy. I just wish the whole movie worked so well.
I kind of wonder why it took me so long to see Phantasm II. I think it was unavailable on DVD for a while and I didn’t want to see third before the second film. Now that I’ve finally seen it, I intend to continue with the series, even if this one wasn’t all that I was hoping for.
Writer of horror, science fiction, and dark fantasy. Lover of fiction and film. Lifelong Godzilla fan. Reluctant blogger.
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