director Don Corsceceli
Don Corsceceli’s 1979 horror film Phantasm was an oddball, remarkable piece of American indie filmmaking, one that added flying pronged silver balls to the visual language of the genre. By the late 1980’s the push for horror sequels for franchise was drilling its way through the heyday of gory horror flicks and much beyond its sell-by date, Corsceceli got a chance to return to the well (wow, how many mixed metaphors can I squeeze into a sentence?)
Phantasm was a film that I saw back in the day and found it freaky and weird, standing out in a crowded litany of bloody horror films of the period. I was pretty over it and cynical by the late 1980’s and certainly never got around to seeing Phantasm II (as far as I can recall). But having just re-watched Phantasm, I was curious about Corsceceli’s other films and thought I’d give it a go. Especially because revisiting Phantasm showed it to be still one of the stranger, more surreal and inventive films, even to my current mind.
Turns out that while Phantasm II is unsurprisingly no Phantasm, it is conversely still surprisingly decent.
It takes place some years after the events of the first film, with James LeGros filling in as the main character, Mike, recently released from a mental institution. He meets up with Reggie (Reggie Bannister of the first film, a sort of Michael Ironside doppelganger) and they go to hunting The Tall Man (Angus Scrimm reprising his role) with chainsaws and shotguns amid small town cemeteries and mausoleums. This time, there are girls in tow (including the very cute Sam Phillips) and some interesting gore effects.
The film extends the story of the world of Phantasm but doesn’t really reinvent the wheel too much. It’s not as surprising or clever as the first film, but quite enjoyable on its own terms.
The flying silver ball has some added upgrades. You’d kind of expect that, though.
Corsceceli went on to do two more Phantasm films, though they ended up direct-to-video. My curiosity is piqued somewhat but I’m thinking I’m going to leave it at two for right now.