Written & Directed by Don Coscarelli
Starring: James Le Gros, Reggie Bannister, Paula Irvine, and Angus Scrimm
Mike, now released from a psychiatric hospital, continues his journey to stop the evil Tall Man from his grim work.
Nine years after the first Phantasm film, part two finally appeared in theaters. I remember it well because I saw it twice the opening weekend. Phantasm II is one of those classic films from a certain time in my life that lends itself easily to nostalgia. I probably saw this a dozen times before watching it in HD for the first time today. I don’t mind admitting I like the second movie more than the first. Filled with a never-ending sense of dread, substantially more gore, and plenty of screen-time for The Tall Man (Scrimm), there really isn’t a better Phantasm film.
Now a teenager, Mike (Le Gross) releases from psychiatric care and finds death and trauma before even arriving home. Reggie (Bannister), now facing tremendous loss. agrees to hunt and destroy the grave robbing Tall Man forever. Mike shares a psychic link with another soul forever tainted by the Tall Man, the damaged but resolute, Liz (Irvine). The two meet face to face on the converging path towards the Tall Man’s home, a barren path punctuated by empty graves. The spectre taunts them, leaving twisted calling cards for the group to find along the trail to his hellish lair.
Let’s remember to use our indoor voices, but this is the grandest kind of B movie; and I use the term B movie from a place of respect. I love the atmosphere and looming dread the film creates. It’s very effective at instilling a sense of danger that never really lifts. The script and acting are juvenile at times, luckily, the cult status elevates the film to a place of nostalgic magic that proves a rarity for dozens of films in the same genre and era. A great villain with a deadly arsenal helps sell the film where others failed. The Tall Man, a mysterious dimensional jumper determined to rob graves for his own grisly desire, is hard to beat for a late 80’s horror flick. No one really knows much about his deadly spheres, but everyone remembers that like it was yesterday. I cheered the first time I watched that racing ball slam into the priest’s face and violently liquefy his brain before spitting it out in a chunky stream. Here’s a clip.
Locating is everything in horror, and it’s hard to be graveyards and mausoleums for a base of operations. Horror protagonists are the creepiest of the creepy, and The Tall Man is a solid top ten villain for certain. This film will satisfy several horror urges if your haven’t seen it. Blood, guts, sex, violence, evil dwarves, grave robbing; this 80’s winner has it all.