Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Revisit: Phantasm II

A Universal Pictures release 1989
Written & Directed by Don Coscarelli

Mike (James LeGros) is released from the psychiatric ward where he was supposed to come to terms with the terrible happenings in his past. A beautiful but strange girl starts to appear in his dreams, and Mike fears that the Tall Man (Angus Scrimm), who plunders graveyards and kidnaps victims in their sleep with help of his terrible gnomes, may be back. Mike contacts his old pal Reggie (Reggie Bannister) and they team up to hunt down and eliminate the Tall Man. But can they find the girl before the Tall Man gets to her first?

This sequel to the 1979 horror flick of the same name improves upon it's original in almost all respects. The plot line is more coherent, more interesting, and the film is filled with sweet gore effects. I mean, look at this stuff:

That last picture shows the Tall Man being attacked by one of his own 'floating spheres'. Those sphere things are absolutely terrifying - tiny silver balls that chase their victims down at full speed, ramming a pair of prongs into their head, then drilling through their skull and draining their brains. There's pretty much no escaping them. Horrifying.
While not the most intelligent filmmaking, Phantasm II does have some interesting interplay between the real world and the world of dreams. Thankfully the whole psychic/dream thing isn't just a gimmick here - the concept is used to motivate the characters, rather than just connect scenes. Those of you who are fans of the cult film Bubba Ho-Tep may recognize writer/director Coscarelli. Although many might disagree, I would say this film is better than Ho-Tep. A must see for fans of 80's horror.

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