After their first encounter with the Tall Man, Mike and Reggie are bound and determined to track the Tall Man down and end his reign of terror. Armed to the teeth in weaponry, Mike and Reggie make their way across the country in pursuit of this evil malice. But the Tall Man is waiting, and his enslaved minions are prepared to serve.
Phantasm II was filmed in 1988 by Don Coscarelli. He brought us movies like, uhhh. Oh he made The Beastmaster… Umm, let’s just move on. It stars Angus Scrimm, James LeGros and Reggie Bannister. Although filmed nine years after the first, Phantasm II takes place the moment after the first movie. So why don’t many people know about Phantasm?
The Phantasm series don’t have a very large following nor are the movies widely known. Like most movie markets, certain films just maintain kingship over others. The bronze age of horror (mainly the 80’s) was a time of giant horror franchises. Halloween, Elm Street and Friday the 13th were mega hits and dominated the scene. Big horror names like Hooper, Carpenter, Craven and Romero were gods of the genre (and still are). So it might have been hard for a movie like Phantasm to catch ground.
The first Phantasm is kind of an abstract film and it’s a little hard to understand. It’s basic horror throughout and then at one point it completely takes this science fiction turn. But then that abrubtly ends. I kind of found myself scratching my head at times while watching. This is why the second one makes better sense and why it’s the movie of the day rather than the first. Although it does touch on a sci-fi theme; it’s overshadowed by the horror elements. Phantasm II gives the Tall Man a little more perspective and develops a clearer story. Unlike the first film, Phantasm II is filled with much more gruesome and darker imagery.
The Tall Man is the main antagonist of the films and he’s played by Angus Scrimm. What I like about the Tall Man is that he’s not a typical antagonist. He has no claws, no machete and he doesn’t wear a mask. He’s just an old guy that walks around in a suite. If you were walking down the street and he passed, you’d just think “Hey, that guys is tall.” You’d never know he was robbing graves and slicing people up with magical floating orbs. He’s a mortician and a really creepy one at that. I think he captivates the fear and freakiness of that profession. Which most of us agree is something that gets to us all.
He has these dwarf minions called Lurkers. They’re not nice like the ones from Despicable Me. Nor are they trying to help Frodo cross the lands of Middle Earth. No no no, they’re reanimated corpses that serve the Tall Man by doing his bidding. They’re ugly, hood wearing, short ferocious creatures. Also, they’re always the pawns that get killed off easily. Fodder for the cool weapons the writers come up with. Poor Lurkers.
Tall Man also has these weapons called Sentinel Spheres. These things are like Swiss Army Knives of death! They use sharp blades, drills and various internal contraptions to kill their victims. The best and goriest scenes in the movie are when someone gets it with one of these instruments of death.
Angus Scrimm would go on playing the Tall Man in all five Phantasm films. The last one being made last year! Unfortunatly Scrimm soon passed away after the last film. I don’t know if Phantasm will ever continue or be reboot but I don’t think anyone will be able to fill those funeral home shoes!
What I love about Phantasm II is the funeral imagery. When I was young I dated a girl whose father owned a funeral home. They were ok people but I remember there being magazines in the bathroom for funeral instruments. Things like coffin accessories, sound systems and even embalming liquid tanks. While taking a number two I would read these things and it freaked me out. The bathroom is a vulnerable place to be, so reading all things related to death wasn’t that inticing. I also remember going to his funeral home and seeing a cadaver for the first time. It had a sheet on it but man did that scare me straight to the core. The entire funeral home scared me because of Phantasm. I kept waiting for the Tall Man and his Lurkers to come around a long corridor.
But then again what an opportunity to be freinds with Reggie and shoot that 4 barrelled shotgun. Or use Mikes makeshift flamethrower and take out a few Lurkers. I’m torn between real genuine fear and the desire to fight some damn Lurkers!
All-in-all, Phantasm II is a good film and I think people can appreciate it for what it is. I wish this film would be considered as a top 80’s horror film because I think the film really adds up. To be honest, I was kind of dissapointed that Cabin In The Woods didn’t pay homage to the film. It would have been cool to see a Sentinel Sphere or hooded evil dwares running around in the background. It may not be the best movie I’ve seen, but it’s not the worst. It may be a little odd and some of the acting is a little weird. For example, Reggie and Alchemy’s odd sex scene really takes the cake. But it’s a genuine good film with great gore galore. Take it or leave it, I think it rocks.
Just a side note. In the movie there’s a scene where the Tall Mans henchmen is grinding up teeth and packing them in a bag. The bag has a label on it and it’s addressed to a Mr. Sam Raimi! What a cool Easter Egg.