It would be nine years before we got a sequel to the cult hit Phantasm. Once again written & directed by Don Coscarelli, most of the main cast reprise their roles. Disappointingly though the character of Mike, now a teenager would be played by James LeGros.
Beginning exactly where the last movie ended, young Mike manages to escape the clutches of the Tall Man & his minions thanks to Reggie’s help. Reggie (Reggie Bannister) manages to fight the Tall Man’s minions off before escaping & blowing up the house.
Eight years later Liz (Paula Irvine) is having nightmares about the Tall Man because of a psychic link she has with Mike. She is worried that the Tall Man is coming for her grandfather when he dies so reaches out to a now institutionalised Mike for help. Mike (James LeGros) fakes his recovery & goes to his parents graves to see if the Tall man has their bodies. While digging he is interrupted by Reggie who doesn’t believe the attacks eight years ago actually happened.
Mike shows him the empty coffins of his parents but Reggie still doesn’t believe him. Heading back to Reggie’s home, Mike has a premonition that unfortunately comes true killing Reggie’s family in an explosion. Devastated, Reggie agrees to accompany Mike on his quest to stop the Tall Man from ravaging the world.
Phantasm II tries to move with the times, going with the sequel rule of everything must be ‘bigger & better’. More actions scenes, increased gore & effects but less focus on the surreal dream states.
A lot of time is spent furthering Mike & Reggie’s relationship as Phantasm II is more a buddy road movie compared to the one location that was the first film. This works incredibly well thanks to the great acting from LeGros & Bannister. Both are very convincing & their friendship is enduring to watch. Once again Reggie is the comic relief, amusing & cute, he is a character you can’t help but get behind!
Angus Scrimm as The Tall Man once again excels in his creepy & mysterious role. He gets much more screen time, many more lines but it doesn’t detract from his power. His imposing nature & the surreal environment he exists in keeps you hooked to the screen.
The movie feels like a continuation of the first & the 9 year gap between them is not even noticeable (except for the 80’s style of filming). Most things are improved upon such as the effects. They look great with a particular shocking body horror moment standing out.
Phantasm II isn’t without its faults though. The focus on action over the dream-like state of the first movie is disappointing. It doesn’t quite have the same impact because of this & the ending is basically a repeat of the first movie.
As a sequel it improves on many aspects of the first which is the most you can often hope for. Its flaws don’t stop it being a hugely entertaining horror movie & with three more sequels to come things are only going to get better!