Friday, September 19, 2008

Phantasm 2 (1988)

Liz: “That's right...It's only a dream.”

The Tall Man: “No!! It's not!!

Cinema Confession #1: I had only seen one “Phantasm” movie before walking into the Alamo South for this Terror Thursday screening of “Phantasm 2,” and that was the original. The reputation of the Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) as a cinema villain is legendary in Horror-circles, and with good cause. His thin, pale, and lanky features, especially his hands with their long pointy fingers, recalls “Nosferatu.” His squinting grimace and bellowing voice is simultaneously hilarious and quaking.

Made nearly 10 years after the first one, “Phantasm 2” not only recasts the main character, Mike (played this time around by James LeGros, who I remember best from the film “Scotland Pa),” but completely shifts the feel of the film, forgoing the surreal dream sequences and opting instead to create an apocalyptic-revenge-road movie, not unlike “Terminator.” The story picks up with Mike, now an adult, being released from a psychiatric hospital. He's been having reoccurring dreams about his past, and about a beautiful and strange girl, who Mike senses is in trouble. He quickly gets back into contact with Reggie, the balding ice cream vendor, who battled the Tall Man with Mike when he was a teen.

Reggie, hellbent on revenge and heavily armed, teams up with Mike to head out on the road in search of the Tall Man, in hopes of putting an end to his evil ways. Mike on the other hand, wants to find the mystery girl from his dreams, hopefully before the Tall Man does. The Tall Man, meanwhile, is wiping out small towns across America, unearthing the corpses of their dead and turning them into an army of reanimated-dwarf-minions; he does this with the help of his flying-metal-bladed-spheres of course.

Mike & Reggie eventually meet up with the girl in Mike's dreams, Liz, who shares the same nightmares Mike has. The 3 of them also pick up a hitchhiker named Alchemy, played by the strangely attractive (and large-mouthed) Samantha Phillips. Her character serves little purpose in the film other than being Reggie's comically unrealistic love interest, and everybody else's eye-candy. A quick glance at her filmography, shows Miss Phillips has had a long career mostly in Skinamax-type “Horror” films such as “The Bare Wench Project 2,” “Cheerleader Massacre,” and “Andromina: the Pleasure Planet.” She was also in “Weekend at Bernie's 2.”

Anyway, Mike, Reggie, & Liz meet up with the Tall Man in a climatic final 25 minutes that sheds away much of the doom and gloom of the first hour of the film and replaces it with some truly fun and imaginative special effects. Reggie's chainsaw joust is pretty classic, not to mention his ridiculous 4 barrel shotgun.

Overall, “Phantasm 2” was a fun Horror movie that was really more of an Action movie I think it was little built up in my head because I found myself having to slog through the pacing in the first half. Still, there's no way around the incredible entertainment value of the Tall Man.

“Phantasm 2” screened at the Alamo South on 9/4/08 and was presented by Terror Thursday.

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