PHANTASM 2 – Blu-ray review
By Brian M. Sammons
Director: Don Coscarelli
Cast: Reggie Bannister, Angus Scrimm, James LeGros
While coming nine years after the first Phantasm movie, this sequel picks up right where the first had left off. If you have yet to see the original Phantasm, what the hell are you reading this for? You’ve got an awesomely original horror movie you need to watch. Anyway, after the “hey, remember this” recap, things jump ahead a couple of years and the young teen hero, Mike, is now a grown man and lying to doctors to get out of an insane asylum. It seems Mike’s been in the nuthatch ever since his brother died and he starting telling people about the Tall Man and his deadly balls. (tee-hee). As soon as Mike gets out, he teams back up with best (and only surviving) buddy Reggie the ice cream man to track the Tall Man down and put an end to his wicked ways.
The two heroes load up in epic 80s badass fashion, grabbing chainsaws and power drills, not to mention making flamethrowers and four-barrel shotguns. They then jump in that sweet, sweet black Hemi Cuda for the original film and start following the trail of dead towns left in the wake of the Tall Man on his quest to turn everyone, living or dead, into evil, undead, slave Jawas for his own nefarious plans. Along the way they pick up some babes, Mike gets psychic powers, Reg gets in an amazing chainsaw fight, there’s some great, goopy, and gory special effects, and it explains some of the backstory of the Tall Man and who/what he is. Oh and lest I forget, some awesome killer sphere scenes, now with improved golden ball action that comes with more deadly bits than an overstuffed Swiss army knife.
Phantasm 2 is far more action/buddy road trip flick than the creepy, nightmarish horror movie that the original was. However that’s not to say that this sequel is a bad movie or that it doesn’t have a few good scares of its own. But if you’re expecting the same kind of weird, what is real and what is dream horror, you may be disappointed. However, Phantasm 2 is a hell of a lot more fun and over the top than its predecessor. It is more comfortable playing things for laughs, and there are a bunch of great giggles to be had here if you can just go with this movie and not think about it too much.
For this Blu-ray release, Scream Factory amassed an impressive list of extras and goodies. It comes with a slipcase and reversible, double-sided art for the Blu-ray case. On the disc there is an audio commentary with director Don Coscarelli and actors Reggie Bannister and the Tall Man himself, Angus Scrimm (who, for some reason, is listed as Angus Scrumm in the BD menu…oops). There is a 48 minute retrospective on the film with Don, Reggie, and Angus called “The Ball is Back” that was a very fun and informative watch. There’s a 22 minute special with Makeup FX superstar Greg Nicotero called “The Gory Days” about his time working on Phantasm 2. There are a collection of deleted scenes and another batch of workprint scenes. There are two rather short behind the scenes bits, one is on the makeup and effects and the other is just general on the set stuff, each runs about 10 minutes. There is a rare almost 20 minute short film starring Rory Guy (who is that? Watch this and find out) playing Abraham Lincoln. Trailers, TV spots, and three different still galleries round out the extras.
Phantasm 2 is a great slice of 80s horror fun. I love, love, love this movie. It’s a good time horror flick if there ever was one and one. It is also the very rare sequel that has little in common (style or feel-wise) with the one that came before, and yet still works wonderfully. It is also the last of the Phantasm movies that is mandatory viewing for any horrorhead, as the ones that follow this one feel sadly lackluster. So Phantasm 2 is a great movie, that looks great on this Blu-ray and comes with more extras and goodies than you can shake a robed, zombie midget at. Yeah, that’s a lot of extras. So consider this one highly recommended and then some. You can get this Blu-ray on March 26th.