In my last edition of Late To The Party we jumped head first straight into the slimy sewers of horror’s smelliest little movies – Ghoulies. After wading hip-deep through that sloppy shit stream of a film it’s time to wash away all of that loathsome stink off of us by finally watching one of horror’s finest offerings – Phantasm II.
Phantasm is among the most sacred horror franchises ever unleashed upon audiences. For the longest time American fans were deprived of owning this masterful collection as any proper Blu-ray set. It was a collection only available to our UK friends, and our shelves were lesser for it. Then rumors began to circulate about a Blu-ray set being released on this side of the pond. J.J. Abrams (Cloverfield, Star Wars: The Force Awakens) was determined to see it happen and became the driving force for the films release.
All five Phantasm movies made their way home early Spring of last year, and I couldn’t wait to get it! I had only ever seen the first movie and was eager to finally watch the complete saga. So here we are finally watching Phantasm II.
The movie starts out with a literal bang! It wisely opens with the finale of the last film. Reggie and Mike (Reggie Bannister, A. Michael Baldwin) – after narrowly surviving the cataclysmic wiles of the Tall Man (Angus Scimm) – decide to take off and start anew. Someplace with no stained memories of the Tall Man or his hooded minions.
But the Tall Man is an eternal entity and not of our dimension. He cannot be stopped which only adds to his malevolent charms. While Mike is in his room packing to leave the Tall Man attacks. If it wasn’t for Reggie’s vigilance Mike could have easily found himself in the eerie dimension of the Tall Man’s bleak reality.
An army of hooded dwarves (trust me it’s darker and cooler than it sounds on paper) swarm the house and attack our heroes. Reggie is always proving to be one step ahead though. He turns on the gas stove (please don’t ever try this at home) and escapes with Mike as the house fills with gas and eventually is ignited by the open fire place. KA-BOOM!
We’re also introduced to our newest hero – Liz (Paula Irvine). She shares a unique telepathic connection with Mike, and together they find themselves pitted against the evils of the Tall Man through haunted dreams. The Tall Man is drawn to their psychic powers and has use for them in his hellish realm. Because of this Mike is convinced Liz is in grave danger and takes off to find her.
Before he can begin his quest though he has to convince Reggie to go along on his hair-brained plan. You see, Mike has been undergoing some (from what we can assume) heavy therapy sessions over the traumatic events of the first film. Reggie tries to assure Mike that’s it was all an illusion – or perhaps a phantasm? Mike makes a very compelling argument though as he shows Reggie that every grave has been emptied, undeniable proof of the Tall Man’s heinous work.
This movie was given a bigger budget and the sets prove it. At times the film is beautiful with its scenes of cemeteries and old mausoleums. They also realized how much fans loved the Phantasm score and really amped it up this time around. Something else they seemed to realize was how much audiences love Reggie. Our favorite guitar-picking ice-cream vendor becomes an action hero this time around. I suppose they explored that in the first movie, but it feels way more accentuated in the sequel.
But how could I not talk about the Tall Man? The fiend is a rock star, and I’m convinced Angus Scrimm was somewhat aware of that. He dominates each scene he’s in. He really does seem unstoppable, and that’s what you want from a horror villain. I love that we really know nothing about him, but we’re afraid of him nonetheless. This movie was made at a time when directors knew less is more and it gave us some brilliant monsters.
Unlike Ghoulies I really loved this one. Phantasm II delivers in every way. If you’ve not had the pleasure of seeing this one yet I can highly recommend it.
I still have three more movies in this series to watch so maybe they’ll appear on future installments of Late To The Party.
This has been Manic Exorcism once again. Happy New Year, faithful reader!
“You think when you die you go to Heaven. You come to us!” – Tall Man