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From the B-Movie Vault: Phantasm and Phantasm II

February 14, 2022 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Phantasm Poster Image Credit: AVCO Embassy Pictures

From the B-Movie Vault Issue #1: Phantasm and Phantasm II

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the first ever issue of From the B-Movie Vault. I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz.

I’ve been writing for 411mania’s Movies section since October of 2005, almost seventeen years now, and in that time, all sorts of reviews and columns and whatnot have been lost to the ravages of the internets. It’s a shame, yes, but it happens. Stuff just gets lost. However, since I have the original “hard copies” of pretty much everything I’ve ever written, I thought it would be fun to dig into my own personal vault of material and put together compilations of those lost reviews. Hence, the birth of From the B-Movie Vault.

The plan at the moment is to do this as often as time and space allows, with an initial focus on the “franchise” review series I did, and then putting together compilations of other reviews. That plan could very well change almost immediately, but that’s what I’m aiming for right now. Each issue will likely feature two or three reviews, depending on the subject or “theme” of the compilation. I will include the column openings for those reviews that originally appeared in The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, at least for right now (I’m sorry, I’m vain, and I think some of my opening lines are funny so why not include them?). I may also, occasionally, provide “new commentary” for a movie if I feel I need to.

I figured I would start this feature/column with the reviews I did for the terrific Phantasm franchise, starting out with the reviews for Phantasm and Phantasm II. And so that’s what’s below: Phantasm and Phantasm II. Enjoy.


The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #399: Phantasm

The Phantasm Marathon: Week 1

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that has never been attacked by a flying silver sphere or owned an ice cream business, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number three hundred and ninety-nine, the Phantasm Marathon begins with a look at the movie that started it all, Phantasm, which hit the world way back in 1979.

Now, I just want to point out that I am reviewing the version of Phantasm released via Anchor Bay Home Entertainment’s Anchor Bay Collection on DVD in 2007. Well Go USA recently released a cleaned up version of the movie on DVD and Blu-ray called Phantasm: Remastered. I haven’t seen that version of the movie, although I’ve heard good things about it (above all else, apparently the movie has never looked better). I will be linking to that version of the movie in the cast list at the end of this week’s column as that version is far more obtainable at the moment than the Anchor Bay one, which is essentially out of print (check out the price for a new copy of it on Amazon here. Who the hell is going to pay that kind of money for an out of print DVD? Well, you know, beyond someone with money to blow on stuff like that?).


Image Credit: AVCO Embassy Pictures

Phantasm, written and directed by Don Coscarelli, stars A. Michael Baldwin (or just Michael Baldwin, if you will) as Mike, the teen brother of Jody (Bill Thornbury), a hip musician in town for an old friend’s funeral (Tommy, as played by Bill Cone). Jody is Mike’s legal guardian, as both of their parents recently died. Jody isn’t too keen on being his brother’s guardian, mostly because he isn’t sure he knows how to be a guardian or a parent. Mike has no problem with Jody as his legal guardian, though. He loves Jody, and Jody is now his only real family left in the world. It’s a sad, messed up situation.

Now, Jody won’t allow Mike to go to Tommy’s funeral, as Mike was traumatized by his parents’ funeral, but Mike watches Tommy’s funeral via binoculars anyway. Right after the service, Mike watches a scary tall man (The Tall Man, as played by Angus Scrimm) pick up a 500 pound coffin singlehandedly, something a normal human being shouldn’t be able to do. How did the Tall Man do that? And who the hell is this Tall Man?

After visiting a local fortune teller (Mary Ellen Shaw), Mike decides to do more investigating of the Tall Man. He keeps seeing the man all over town, walking with purpose and glowering at random. Just what the hell is going on? One night, Mike follows Jody to a bar and then into the cemetery, where he seems to be on a date with a woman in a lavender dress (Kathy Lester). We know, based on what we see at the very beginning of the movie, that this woman, known as The Lady in Lavender, isn’t just some hot woman looking for a date. No, the Lady in Lavender is bad news (she’s actually a version of the Tall Man, as we see via editing). While watching Jody, Mike is attacked by a hooded dwarf. A hooded dwarf? In the cemetery?

Jesus Christ, what the hell is going on?

So then some stuff happens, Mike has a weird dream that freaks him out, and Mike then decides to do more investigating by going to the funeral home/mausoleum to see what, exactly, is in that place. While inside, Mike sees an old man in a hat (the caretaker, as played by Ken Jones) attacked by a flying silver ball that drills a hole in the man’s head. Mike also comes face to face with the Tall Man. After a brief run and scuffle, the Tall Man gets his hand stuck in a door and Mike slices off the scary man’s fingers. Mike takes one of the still wiggling fingers as evidence for Jody, as Jody isn’t convinced that the strange things happening to his kid brother are really happening at all (you know, the kid has been through quite a bit, he’s emotionally damaged, it’s all in his imagination). So Mike shows Jody the finger, and suddenly Jody believes his brother’s story. How can a severed finger still be alive?

So then more stuff happens, the finger turns into a killer demon bug, and Jody and Mike come up with a plan to take on the Tall Man and figure out what the hell the Tall Man is really up to. With the help of buddy, fellow musician, and professional ice cream man Reggie (Reggie Bannister), Jody enters the mausoleum’s basement and is immediately attacked by a hooded dwarf. Jody escapes, is picked up by Mike in Jody’s badass Hemicuda muscle car, and suddenly there’s a car chase, with a hearse barreling towards the Cuda. With the help of a shotgun, Jody manages to stop the hearse, which crashes on the side of the road. It’s here that Jody and Mike find out that the hearse was being driven by a hooded dwarf, and that the dwarf is a shrunken Tommy.

A shrunken Tommy? What?

It’s at this point that Jody, Mike, and Reggie figure out that the Tall Man steals corpses, shrinks them somehow, and turns them into his slaves. Why does the Tall Man need slaves? To steal more corpses, presumably.

So then even more stuff happens, Reggie’s ice cream truck is attacked, the Tall Man kidnaps several women, and Jody locks Mike in his bedroom and decides to take on the Tall Man alone. Mike isn’t impressed with that decision, and after escaping his bedroom with an exploding hammer, he joins Jody on his mission to take on the Tall Man. Reggie shows up again to join in on the fun, and all three end up back at the mausoleum. All hell then breaks loose.

To say that Phantasm is weird would be a serious understatement. Even when you think you know what’s going on you really don’t. Because, really, is the assumed reason for all of this corpse stealing the real reason for what the Tall Man is doing? And what is the Tall Man’s interest in Mike? The Tall Man keeps showing up around Mike, actually attacking and kidnapping Mike in his home at one point. I know I keep saying this, but, really, what the hell is going on? It’s that uncertainty that makes Phantasm so unnerving. It isn’t scary in the sense that Halloween or the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre are scary. Phantasm isn’t filled with taut suspense or visceral editing. Instead, Phantasm is filled with endless atmosphere and unexplained events. The Lady in Lavender. What, exactly, is she? Are the hooded dwarves really the Tall Man’s slaves? And what the hell is that hidden room in the mausoleum, the one with the stacked barrels and the two poles that mysteriously look like a tuning fork?

And is that Mars?

When I first saw Phantasm I had absolutely no idea what was going on. And now, after multiple viewings and reading both Phantasm Exhumed by Dustin McNeill and that Official Phantasm Companion book put out by Rue Morgue, I think I understand it a little more. You have to look at the movie as its own thing and not the first in a series of five movies. No one knew back in 1979 that there would be a Phantasm franchise and, as a result, the movie can’t be seen as the start of something beyond a career for Don Coscarelli (he had directed two movies before Phantasm, but the box office success of Phantasm is what allowed him the chance to direct The Beastmaster). Its weirdness is meant to scare you, not to make you think about how a sequel will deal with that weirdness. All of the questions raised by the movie are meant to be just that, questions, and there are no answers. Yes, it’s possible that the Tall Man plot concocted by Jody and Mike and Reggie (he’s stealing dead bodies so he can shrink them down into killer dwarf slaves that he can then take to Mars or whatever the hell that “red place” is) is exactly what’s going on, but maybe it isn’t. There’s also a question of how much of what we see is just a dream. Both Mike and Jody are attacked in what we assume are their dreams.

And then there’s the ending. Now, we see Reggie stabbed to death, but, at the very end of the movie, we find out that he’s actually alive and that Jody is dead, recently killed in a car accident. Mike keeps talking about the Tall Man coming for him, about the strange goings on in town, events that Reggie took part in, and yet Reggie doesn’t seem to know what the hell Mike is talking about. Was it all a dream? And is the final sequence in the movie, one of the most famous in modern horror movie history, real, or a dream? We know that, in the big scheme of things, it wasn’t a dream because of the way part two begins, but in the context of the first movie, is it a dream, or is it Mike’s subconscious telling him that he’ll never be able to put his emotional issues completely behind him, that they’ll always be lurking in the background ready to pounce?

The only thing I’m completely sure of is that the final sequence is still, to this day, one hell of a jump scare. I know what’s going to happen, I’ve seen it multiple times, and yet still, when those hands break through the mirror and pull Mike through, holy crap. Still amazing.

The music is still freaky. Fred Myrow and Malcolm Seagrave did a great job coming up with a killer theme that is still scary today, while the rest of the score is unsettling all by itself.

The cast is phenomenal. Michael Baldwin manages to make Mike both kind of naïve about the world and whatnot (he’s 13. How much can a thirteen year old really know about life?) and still resourceful enough to get through things. He also manages to make that exploding hammer, which is pretty goddamn cool.

Bill Thornbury is excellent as Jody. He has that cool as hell 1970’s guy thing going on. You can tell that he’s overwhelmed by everything that he’s dealing with but he’s managing the best he can. I’m surprised that his performance here didn’t lead to more work as a leading man because Thornbury is brilliant. He’s funny, he’s calm, and he knows how to wield a shotgun while hanging out the top of a muscle car. Why didn’t that matter more?

Reggie Bannister is awesome, but he doesn’t have that much to do. He sings a bit, he drives around in his ice cream truck, and he touches the tuning fork in that room and then is stabbed in the gut. It’s cool to see him before he becomes the big hero of the franchise as just a guy who gets caught up in some weird shit.

I forgot just how alluring Kathy Lester is as the Lady in Lavender. You can see from the very beginning why men would fall for her. I do wonder, though, why there was no Man in Lavender to capture women.

And then there’s Angus Scrimm as the Tall Man. He’s terrifying. He’s tall, emaciated, strong as hell, and the guy can run. How are you supposed to deal with that? The famous scene where he walks down the sidewalk and then suddenly stops when he’s around the cold mist emitted by Reggie’s ice cream truck is still scary today, but the one that gets me more is the old timey photo where we see the Tall Man back in the 1800’s suddenly come alive. How is anyone supposed to deal with that?

Phantasm is a great piece of horror cinema. It still packs a punch four decades later, and that’s a testament to writer/director Coscarelli and the actors he assembled for his movie. If you haven’t seen it in a while, do yourself a favor and check it out. I bet it will freak you out.

See Phantasm. See it, see it, see it. Superb cinema.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: 3

Undead bodies: Lots (the hooded dwarves are kind of like zombies with a purpose, right?)

Explosions: One big one and one small one.

Nudity?: Yes.

Doobage: A weird house, cemetery sex, boobs, gut stabbing, a creepy as hell mausoleum, a kid riding a dirt bike through a cemetery, a major jump scare, binocular hooey, fortune teller hooey, coffin grabbing, a mysterious black box, dirt bike crashing, a date in a cemetery, attempted sex in the cemetery with panties in teeth, a terrifying dream, a teenage car mechanic, fence climbing, window breaking, using a lighter as a source of light, hiding inside a coffin, arm biting, flying silver ball attack, head drilling, blood spurting, a scary foot chase, a damaged hand, finger slicing, shoe stealing, severed finger in a wooden box, shotgun unloading, a flying demon bug, garbage disposal hooey, multiple hooded dwarf attacks, a car chase, serious shotgun hooey, a car crash, exploding hammer, window shooting, exploding hearse, exploding silver ball, off screen girl rescue, a room full of barrels and a thing that looks like a big tuning fork, more hooded dwarf attacks, flying barrels, more gut stabbing, door smashing, a mine trap, guitar playing, mirror breaking, and a major jump scare.

Kim Richards?: Attempted, in a way. It all depends on how you want to look at it.

Gratuitous: A Hemicuda, a teenage car mechanic, 1970’s bullshit, a scary cemetery, people singing on a porch for no reason, a Rolling Stones T-shirt, a tuning fork, a sleazy local bar, checking the pay phone for change, severed finger stealing, an old timey photo from the 1800’s that comes alive, a red planet, boulders, and a major jump scare.

Best lines: “That was pretty groovy,” “Jody. Hi, Reg,” “The funeral is about to begin! Sir!,” “Yeah, I don’t like this place,” “Give me back my hand!,” “We’re hot as love, you know,” “So, what’s the only thing to do in this town?,” “What the heck?,” “It was probably just a gopher in a hat!,” “Ow! My fucking foot!,” “Uuumm. Shit,” “Okay. I believe you,” “What the hell is going on?,” “Now, remember: you don’t aim a gun at a man unless you intend to shoot him. And, you don’t shoot a man unless you intend to kill him. No warning shots. Hey, you listening to me? No warning shots. Warning shots are bullshit. You shoot to kill, or you don’t shoot at all,” “There… there was nobody driving!,” “It’s one of those dwarves!,’ “This guy isn’t going to leak all over my ice cream, is he?,” “We gotta snag that tall man and stomp the shit out of him!,” “You have to take me home!,” “I’ve been waiting for you,” “Sorry, Daddy. I had to,” “Reggie! You ain’t dead! And I ain’t two foot three either,” “Geez. Dwarves,” “Boy!,” “You play a good game, boy, but now the game is finished. Now you die,” “Don’t fear,” “Mike, you had a bad dream,” and “Boooyyyyy!”

Rating: 10.0/10.0


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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #400: Phantasm II

The Phantasm Marathon: Week 2

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that thinks it’s high time that Reggie Bannister get the key to the city because, come on, he’s Reggie goddamn Bannister, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number four hundred (yes, 400. That number just seems so ridiculous), the Phantasm Marathon continues with the first Phantasm sequel, Phantasm II, which hit movie theatres back in the summer of 1988.

Phantasm II

Image Credit: Universal Pictures

Phantasm II, written and directed by Don Coscarelli, is probably the most controversial/divisive entry in the entire Phantasm franchise. Some people really like it because it’s bigger than the first movie, more badass, and shows what Coscarelli can do with a biggish budget (he made part two for around $3 million, where the first movie was made for considerably less). And some people despise the movie because of a major cast shake-up (Michael Baldwin was replaced as Mike with James LeGros because Universal Pictures wanted a “working” actor as the star and Baldwin had left the movie business when part 2 was put into production. Coscarelli was allowed to keep Scrimm as the Tall Man and Bannister as Reggie, although Bannister did have to audition for the part. Universal was looking at having Larry Miller or Jeffrey Tambor as Reggie. Can you imagine how that would have worked out?). And some people claim that Phantasm II is just a kind of remake of the first movie, since a huge chunk of it deals with people trying to track down the Tall Man. I don’t really agree with that assessment (yes, it riffs on some of the sequences and ideas seen in the first movie, but sequels tend to do that. And, no, it isn’t exactly like the first movie). In fact, I love Phantasm II and think it’s a great movie, one of the best horror movie sequels ever made, and easily one of the most badass movies ever made.

Phantasm II picks up seconds after the end of the first movie, with the Tall Man (Scrimm) and his cloaked demon midgets kidnapping Mike (Baldwin via clips from the first movie). Reggie, hearing a commotion upstairs decides to investigate. Reggie sees what the heck is going on, runs back downstairs and grabs a shotgun. While trying to find some ammo for the shotgun, Reggie is attacked by a demon midget and forced to beat the creature to death with the butt of the shotgun. Reggie is then quickly overwhelmed by an army of the demon midgets so he comes up with a plan to kill all of them and, maybe, rescue Mike. Reggie turns on the gas from the stove, gets upstairs via a laundry shoot, and then beats down a demon midget with a baseball bat. Reggie then rescues Mike and gets him out of the house before it explodes in one of the most awe inspiring house explosions in movie history.

The story then shifts to around ten years later with the now grown Mike (LeGros) checking out of a mental hospital he’s been holed up in since the end of the first movie. He lets his doctors know that he doesn’t believe in his Tall Man story anymore, that it was all a dream and a story that he used to try to cope with the death of his brother Jody. Mike is lying, of course. He knows that the Tall Man is real and that he’s still out there in the world, stealing dead bodies and turning them into demon midgets in order to send them to the red planet to do whatever it is the demon midgets are meant to do on the red planet. Mike has also been in psychic contact with a girl named Liz (Paula Irvine), a young woman who seems to know everything about the Tall Man and what he went through in the first movie. So Mike lies his ass off to his doctor and gets out of the hospital and heads to the cemetery to find out just how much nastiness the Tall Man has been up to. While in the cemetery, digging up graves to see just how many bodies the Tall Man has stolen, Mike meets up with Reggie. Reggie wants Mike to come home with him, to try to live a normal life because the Tall Man story is ridiculous, but Mike wants Reggie to help him find the Tall Man and kill him. The old friends argue, and Mike eventually agrees to go to Reggie’s house to hang out and whatnot. Mike knows, though, that the “visit” isn’t going to end well and that some bad stuff is going to happen. And, man, does bad stuff happen (Reggie’s house explodes, killing his wife and daughter).

So there’s a funeral, Reggie mourns his family’s demise, and he agrees to go on the road with Mike and find the Tall Man, the bastard responsible for blowing up his house. Mike and Reggie break into a hardware store, steal/”buy” some equipment, make two very cool weapons (a flamethrower and a four-barrel shotgun), and then hit the road. We see them travel in Reggie’s HemiCuda all across the pacific-northwest, driving through various small towns that have been destroyed by the Tall Man. In one small town, Mike and Reggie enter an abandoned mortuary that’s filled with eerie atmosphere, a dead body that may not, in fact, be a dead body (Samantha Phillips, who shows up later as a very much alive hitchhiker named Alchemy), and a woman that sort of looks like Liz but has a nasty creature in her back (the creature, an awesome practical effect, is nothing short of nightmare inducing). It’s at this point that Mike and Reggie figure out that they have to head towards a small town in Oregon called Perigord. It’s where Liz actually is. The Tall Man is there, too.

The scene then shifts to Perigord, where we see Liz preparing for her dead grandfather’s funeral. Along with her sister Jeri (Stacey Travis) and grandmother (Ruth C. Engel), Liz arrives at the funeral home with a strange feeling. Something is off about the place, including the surrounding area. The priest, Father Meyers (Kenneth Tigar), also senses something off about the place. But what? What the heck is going on? Liz has a feeling she knows, but the priest? Not really. We know what’s going on, though. It’s the goddamn Tall Man.

So then some stuff happens, Father Meyers stabs Liz’s grandfather’s corpse, Liz’s grandfather becomes a kind of zombie that terrorizes the priest and Liz’s grandmother, and Mike and Reggie arrive in Perigord with Alchemy, who has family in the area. Mike and Reggie go with Alchemy to her family’s abandoned bed and breakfast, where they decide to make a kind of base camp before they travel into the town proper and find the Tall Man. After booby-trapping the place with hand grenades and shotguns on strings, Mike and Reggie go into town, find the cemetery, and suddenly the shit is on. We see Meyer confront the Tall Man, Meyer killed by one of the Tall Man’s silver spheres, and Liz rescued by Mike and Reggie after she’s attacked by the Tall Man and his graver minions (they’re like the demon midgets except they’re not midgets).

It’s at this point that we find out that Alchemy really has a thing for Reggie and his balding head (one of the funniest sex scenes you’ll ever see) and that Liz and Mike were meant for each other. We find out that their psychic connection is so deep that they communicate without actually speaking to one another (they have a scene in bed where they only speak via their minds. It’s kind of sweet the way it plays out). It’s also at this point that we find out that the Tall Man knows that everyone is within his vicinity and that now is the time to kick ass and take names. The Tall Man sends a demon midget into Alchemy’s house to set off the booby-traps (this happens off screen. We only see the aftermath) and the Tall Man kidnaps Liz. Mike and Reggie go after the Tall Man, there’s a pretty nifty car chase, the HemiCuda flips wildly and explodes, and suddenly it’s on for Mike and Reggie, too. They’re going into the Tall Man’s lair and they’re going to try to kick his fucking ass.

The rest of the movie is a special effects extravaganza, with all sorts of cool practical effects on display (sphere effects, gunplay, gore, and a wicked chainsaw fight between Reggie and a masked graver, not to mention one of the greatest body melt scenes in movie history). It’s all great stuff, and if you’re not amazed by it, well, you need to watch it again and pay attention. If you’re a horror movie nerd, I can’t fathom or explain why you wouldn’t enjoy what Coscarelli and company put on the screen at the end of the movie. It still blows me away.

Now, I may be a tad biased when it comes to Phantasm II as it’s the first Phantasm movie I saw. I saw it on TV (I can’t remember if it was HBO or Cinemax. I don’t think it was The Movie Channel) and then rented it several times from various now long gone video stores. It was always such a great experience. In fact, it’s still a great experience, either on TV or on DVD. I haven’t seen it on the big screen yet, although the movie sure seems to be making the rounds on the nostalgia/specialty screening circuit. I’m sure I’ll see it one day in a movie theatre. Wouldn’t it be cool if Universal Pictures actually re-released the movie as part of some anniversary deal? In 2018 Phantasm II will be celebrating its thirtieth anniversary. What better time to do one of those Fathom Events deals? (Writer’s Note: This didn’t happen. It should have but it didn’t. Good job, Universal)

James LeGros does a great job as Mike. He plays Mike as an assertive character, which makes sense since the story is more action oriented than the first one. Baldwin probably would have done a fine job in the part, but since he couldn’t be a part of the movie LeGros does a fine job filling in for him. And while LeGros’s presence messes up the franchise’s continuity, having a “different” Mike in part 2 actually helps ratchet up the franchise’s weirdness factor. Because, really, when you look at the whole thing, you really don’t know what to expect or what the hell is going on. I don’t think LeGros gets enough credit for the work he does in the movie. He has good buddy chemistry with Bannister, excellent chemistry with Irvine, and he kicks ass in the movie’s action scenes. I do think, though, that LeGros, who seems to be a steady character actor at the moment in both movies and TV, should embrace his part in horror movie history. He doesn’t seem to do the convention thing, and he doesn’t appear in any of the extras on the Scream Factory DVD. Why not? I bet people would pay to see him talk about his experience on Phantasm II, and I think it would be cool to see him meet up with his old pal Reggie again. Anyone out there know why LeGros doesn’t participate in Phantasm II nostalgia?

Bannister kicks ass as Reggie. It’s kind of weird seeing him play two versions of himself in this movie, as the 1979 version of himself at the beginning of the movie, and then the 1988 version of himself for the rest of the movie. He really isn’t a sidekick but, even when he’s in “let’s kick some ass” mode he isn’t as assertive as Mike. His big “creating the four barrel shotgun” scene is one for the ages (I don’t want to say iconic but it is an iconic scene), and his chainsaw fight scene is a thing of beauty. And his sex scene with Alchemy? It’s insane that she would be interested in him in the first place, but when you’re a guy like Reggie and a hot babe is into you, you can’t ask questions, man. You just have to go with it. Sure, it very rarely, if ever, works out, but, again, you gotta take chances, man.

Irvine is amazing as Liz. She’s sweet and nice but, when she has to kick ass, she can go, which is always cool. As I said earlier, she has tremendous chemistry with LeGros and it’s damn sad what happens to her at the beginning of the next movie. Phantasm II was Irvine’s last actual acting role before, according to imdb, going to college and doing something else with her life. I bet she would have had a great career as a character actress if she had stuck with acting. She also probably would have had a great career as a full on “scream queen” if she continued acting. I bet she would have headlined several horror flicks in the late 1980’s/early 1990’s. And, yeah, I’ve always had a crush on Liz. She’s exactly the kind of girl 1980’s nerds would want to hang out with.

Scrimm is actually more terrifying in this movie than in the first one as the Tall Man. He seems meaner here, nastier, and that’s always a good idea when it comes to your horror movie villain. His scene with Meyers in the hallway where he utters his classic line “You think that when you die you go to heaven. You come to us!” still gives me the chills. I’d imagine that for most people, either consciously or unconsciously, think of this movie when they think of the Tall Man. Scrimm is that damn good in it. Awesome stuff. And, man, look at what he has to deal with at the end of the movie. That body melt make-up is insane. And what about that little “licking the yellow blood off the end of that pin” scene? Goddamn heebie jeebie time.

Kenneth Tigar does a nice job as Father Meyers. It’s interesting see him try to deal with the weird shit going on around him. Because, really, what the hell is going on around him? The Tall Man seems to be demonic, but is he the devil? Is he something else? It’s also cool to see Meyers muster up the courage to confront the Tall Man as one of “God’s servants.” Meyers gets his ass kicked in the end, but, still, at least he had the courage to confront the man in that hallway.

And then there’s Samantha Phillips as Alchemy. Phillips does a great job as Alchemy. She’s fun, free spirited, she’s into bald guys for some reason. It’s kind of ridiculous but Phillips manages to make it work. I do question, though, if her character was always a female version of the Tall Man, like the Lady in Lavender in the first movie. We see her dead body in the autopsy room earlier in the movie, and then we see her in Mike’s dream and then again in “real” life. We also see her trying to find a way to get out of town after she takes Liz’s car and the car breaks down. She hot wires the Tall Man’s hearse and drives off. Is it possible that she was a “real” person up until that point and only became the Tall Man when she stole the hearse? I think it’s possible. But then again, so much stuff in the Phantasm franchise makes no sense so who the heck knows.

The sphere effects are a big step above the ones in the first movie. The gold sphere is one of the nastiest goddamn things I’ve ever seen in a movie (look at what it does to that goddamn graver). And, I can’t stress this enough, the practical effects are insanely cool throughout the entire movie. Mark Shostrom deserves endless major props for what he and his team manage to accomplish. And the music, by Fred Myrow and Christopher Stone, ups the energy from the first movie and ends up feeling more iconic than the first movie’s music. The end credits theme will get your blood pumping.

Phantasm II is a true classic. It kicks ass, it rocks, it still brings the goods. It’s a movie that fans of horror movies, action/horror hybrids, 1980’s cinema, and badass movies absolutely need to see. It’s a movie that will stick with you after it’s over, and it’s definitely a movie you’ll want to revisit every now and then. If you haven’t seen Phantasm II, good God, what the hell have you been doing with your life? You need to see it now! Now! Now! Now! You won’t regret it.

See Phantasm II. See it, see it, goddamn see it!

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: 12

Undead bodies: Tons. There are hooded demon midgets everywhere in this movie. And there’s one actual zombie in it.

Explosions: Four, and three of them are insanely awesome.

Nudity?: Yes.

Doobage: A very cool title screen, a hot psychic blonde chick, dream notetaking, the very end of the first movie, attempted shotgun hooey, multiple midget demon attacks, midget demon killing, gas, window diving, exploding house, digging up empty graves, a second exploding house, burglary, shopping, chainsaw hooey, badass weapon creation, different journal writing, an empty cemetery, hole cutting, a disappearing dead body, light bondage, one of the most disturbing practical special effects of all time coming out of someone’s back, a creepy funeral home, corpse stabbing, needle licking, zombie hooey, a shotgun booby-trap, bald head kissing, a box full of killer spheres, hanging by crucifix, bloody flying sphere attack with ear removal and head drilling, choking, vase to the head, kissing, lighting a fireplace with a flamethrower, boobs, bald head slapping, an off screen explosion, a wicked car chase, a wild flip, a flaming tree, a jammed seatbelt, exploding HemiCuda, more light bondage, hand drill hooey, bone smashing, an embalming machine that has hydrochloric acid in it, crucifix stealing, body burning, drill to the armpit, a chainsaw duel, multiple exploding doors, an absolutely disgusting gold sphere attack, gun belt cutting, chainsaw up through the crotch, the killing of four demon midgets at one time with one shot, hearse stealing, space gate hooey, red planet hooey, sphere to the head, sphere crushing, bug head, embalming needle to the back, one of the greatest body melting scenes in movie history, exploding eyes, a massive fire, coffin checking, hair pulling, and a jump scare ending.

Kim Richards?: None.

Gratuitous: A. Michael Baldwin from the first Phantasm, Reggie Bannister in 1988 trying hard to look like he did back at the end of the first movie, a disappearing/reappearing guitar, a laundry shoot, no reaction from Angus Scrimm as the Tall Man when a house explodes right behind him, multiple voice overs, the HemiCuda, a hat that says “Boogie Down” on it, a naked female corpse, an open casket viewing, peeing on the side of the road, a tombstone that says “Alex Murphy” on it, a hand grenade booby-trap, dead body embalming, the blessing, a psychic conversation, a chainsaw duel, a gold sphere, and a jump scare ending.

Best lines: “Shit,” “I was afraid I’d find you here,” “The Tall Man? That story about me blowing up my own house because it was infested with midgets. Mike, that wasn’t real. Your doctor said that it was your own paranoid delusions caused by your brother’s death,” “Welcome home, boy,” “You knew. Before it happened. Let’s go, Mike. We have things to do,” “Let’s go shopping,” “Small towns are like people. Some are old and die a natural death. Some are murdered,” “Liz, what has he done to you,” “You play a good game, boy. Come east if you dare!,” “Damn. It’s not a dream. Mike!,” “Forgive me, Lord. I must end this sacrilege. I can’t close my eyes to what I’ve seen. It must be stopped,” “Graveside service is about to begin,” “Damn this wind!,” “You know, we’ve been out here a long time. It’s hard on the road,” “If you want her, come. Tonight,” “Looks like a ghost town,” “Jesus. What the hell?,” “They have no need for your services,” “Who are you to question the work of God’s servants?,’ “You think that when you die you go to heaven. You come to us!,” “Hello, again. And goodbye,” “Sorry, grandma,” “What the hell is going on here?,” “So you’ve seen it! The sphere! She’s seen it, Reg,” “God, Reg, I love your head,” “I’ll get the gear,” “Well, shoot the fucker!,” “Come on. Let’s go kick some ass,” “Come on, you mutha!,” “Goddamit!,” “Hey! Suck on this!,” “We nailed that sonofabitch!,” “Hey, babe, you could have run, but thanks for sticking with us,” and “Listen to me. This isn’t happening. We’re going to wake up. It’s a dream. It’s only a dream. No, it’s not!”

Rating: 10.0/10.0


Well, I think that’ll be about it for now. Don’t forget to sign up with disqus if you want to comment on this article and any other 411 article. You know you want to, so just go do it.

B-movies rule. Always remember that.

Image Credit: Universal Pictures


A. Michael Baldwin– Mike
Bill Thornbury– Jody
Reggie Bannister– Reggie
Angus Scrimm– The Tall Man
Kathy Lester– The Lady in Lavender
Ken Jones– Caretaker
Mary Ellen Shaw– Fortuneteller
Lynn Eastman-Rossi– Sally
Bill Cone– Tommy

Directed by Don Coscarelli
Screenplay by Don Coscarelli

Distributed by AVCO Embassy Pictures, Embassy Home Entertainment, MGM/UA Home Entertainment, Starz Home Entertainment, Anchor Bay Home Entertainment, and Well Go USA

Rated R for graphic violence, language, adult situations, and nudity
Runtime– 88 minutes
Buy it here or here or here.

Phantasm II

James LeGros– Mike
Reggie Bannister– Reggie
Paula Irvine– Liz
Angus Scrimm– The Tall Man
Samantha Phillips– Alchemy
Kenneth Tigar– Father Meyers
Ruth C. Engel– Grandma
Rubin Kushner– Grandpa
Stacey Travis– Jeri
A. Michael Baldwin– Young Mike (archive footage)

Directed by Don Coscarelli
Screenplay by Don Coscarelli

Distributed by Universal Pictures, MCA/Universal Home Video, Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Shout! Factory/Scream Factory, and Well Go USA
Rated R for graphic violence, language, and some nudity.
Runtime– 97 minutes

Buy it here or here or here.