Today I watched Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm II (1988)
While the first Phantasm may have ended with a rather nonsensical twist, part two still manages to follow those events. With Jody gone and Reggie in denial, Mike has grown up in psychiatric institutions. When he is released he meets back up with Reggie and they are attacked by the Tall Man once again, with Reggie’s family dying in a massive explosion. Now Mike and Reggie hunt the Tall Man across America, following the trail of destroyed towns he leaves in his wake. They arm up like Mad Max with sawed off shotguns and all manner of improvised weaponry and team up with a psychic girl and this hitchhiker lady who is obviously bad news.
To tie everything together, this film’s first act relies heavily on voice-overs from multiple characters. It is quite inconsistent and feels very rushed as the movie just gets all the narrative out of the way as fast as possible. Afterwards the film feels like a constant climax in both good and bad ways. On the plus side there is plenty of action and it is very creative, but on the downside many of the events lack weight or drama. Characters are not very well established here which furthers a problem of middling to bad actors. Reggie Bannister, who plays Reggie, ends up being the only standout here aside from Angus Scrimm’s continuing Tall Man menace. Reggie just has this pure, everyman appeal and dodges the pitfall of being generic by being in this zany movie.
While the pace may feel rushed, it does have the benefit of having quite a bit of action once the plot is out of the way. Once said action gets going there is a lot to like here as the film’s sense of fun is infectious, as is the visual creativity. The basic idea of the plot, Mike and Reggie following the wake of destruction left by the eldritch horror that is the Tall Man, is really interesting to me and helps keep things interesting. I think my recommendation with this would be to watch it back to back as it helps with this film’s mile a minute, all climax pacing. With that in mind I do quite enjoy where this film takes the series and love the over the top excess it offers up. 4/5