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Movie Review: "Phantasm II" (1988)
"Phantasm" introduced a new horror icon, the Tall Man (portrayed by Angus Scrimm), and focused on people's fear of mortuaries, death, and the like. And it did so in the most boring and uninteresting fashion possible. It's one thing if your film is about death but it's another if it's a flat-out depressing yawn-fest of a film to begin with.
Well, here we have "Phantasm II", a sequel that was made almost a decade after its original. Our two surviving main characters from "Phantasm", Michael and Reggie, return here. The film picks up right where the last one left off and immediately brings the Tall Man and his evil little dwarves back into action. Our two heroes narrowly escape their house before it is blown to bits. This is perhaps the most exciting portion of "Phantasm II".
Fast forward a few years and Michael has been admitted to a loony bin due to some scary prophetic nightmares he's been having of the Tall Man and another girl, Liz, who seems to share a psychic bond with the both of them. Michael is finally being discharged thanks to his fake recovery. He then heads to the cemetery to continue his pursuit of the Tall Man.
But then, Reggie meets up with him to inform him that the explosion at the house never occurred. Huh? Yep, that's right, the first "Phantasm" was nothing but a very long bad dream and "Phantasm II" is set in reality. Moments later, Mike has a vision of Reggie's family dying in an explosion. Low and behold, it happens. At this point, Reggie agrees to aide Michael in his quest to take out the Tall Man once and for all, thus setting up the rest of our 'Phantasm' sequel.
If there's one noticeable element about these "Phantasm" movies, it's that they have a little too much exposition in them. There's lots of over-explaining. Well, there's nothing different about that here. We kick off "Phantasm II" with tons of exposition right from the get-go as we are treated to a voice-over by the new female protagonist, Liz, who tells us what's going on. Why not just show us?
Buy "Phantasm II" on DVD
Bigger = Better
As with any sequel, the common assumption is that bigger must mean better, right? Well, not necessarily. It may have worked for movies like "Aliens", "Terminator 2: Judgment Day", and "Dawn of the Dead", but not when it's done incorrectly like it is here in "Phantasm II". This sequel tries to cover up its weak spots by throwing as many guns, weapons, action, and explosions at you as it possibly can to make you actually think something of substance might be there.
Not only do we get a taste of this from the opening explosion sequence, but it starts getting way too far when Reggie and Mike break into a weapons store to load up on guns, ammo, and other nonsense. All of this kinda takes away from the seriousness that the original 'Phantasm' presented.
As I was saying earlier, quite simply put... everything about "Phantasm II" is boring. From the not-so interesting story and right down to the actors who don't seem too interested in what they're doing. Even the depressing soundtrack doesn't help. Similar issues like these are also what plagued the first "Phantasm" movie, but the difference here is this one has no heart to it, it's just all about gore and action.
What Should Have Been Done
Not being made would have been a perfect start (or end, in that case) for "Phantasm II". Seriously, "Phantasm II" stretches the first "Phantasm" far too thin and ruins it. What this movie needed was a bolder approach that doesn't consist of over-explaining things to the viewer, an over-emphasis on action, and for God's sake, get these actors an interesting script that they don't feel obligated to sleepwalk through.