Director Don Coscarelli's Phantasm II
revamps the nightmarish dreamscape of his 1979 cult classic for an offbeat if energetic sequel that receives a lavish showcase in this collector's edition Blu-ray. Produced nearly a decade after Coscarelli's Phantasm
became a surprise hit, the sequel picks up shortly after the events of the first picture, with young hero Mike (James Le Gros, replacing A. Michael Baldwin), newly released from a psychiatric hospital but still plagued by dreams of the sinister, dimension-hopping Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) and his legion of diminutive, grave-robbing henchmen. After reuniting with Reggie (Reggie Bannister, reprising his role from the first picture), Mike takes to the road to stop the Tall Man with the help of a young woman (Paula Irvine) with whom he shares both a psychic link and disturbing dreams, and an amusingly aggressive hitchhiker (Samantha Phillips). Phantasm II
works hard to satisfy a broad audience by blending the first picture's moody budget surrealism with wide swathes of gory effects--much of which centering around the franchise's lethal flying silver spheres--and touches of '80s-style boom-and-bang action. Serving so many palates in a single film is bound to leave one or more parties feeling slighted, and those who appreciated the unsettling atmosphere of the first Phantasm
may feel that it's been supplanted in favor of the more crowd-pleasing elements. However, Coscarelli keeps the pace at a brisk clip and milks his trump card--Scrimm's undeniably creepy presence as the Tall Man--for all its worth. The result is best described as Big, Broad Horror Fun, and generated enough interest from the horror community to produce two additional (and lesser) sequels.
The single-disc Scream Factory presentation of Phantasm II compares favorably to the fan-friendly packaging of its previous releases (including Halloween II and They Live) with this Blu-ray edition, which includes both new and previously released supplemental material. Among the features produced for the Blu-ray is the 40-minute Ball Is Back, which covers the film's conception and execution through interviews with Coscarelli and his primary cast and crew, as well as test and behind-the-scenes footage. There's also a commentary track (culled from a previous DVD release) featuring Coscarelli, Bannister, and Scrimm that underscores the trio's long-running and friendly relationship, as well as the reasons for not bringing back Baldwin for the sequel (he would return for subsequent entries). A second interview feature with special effects creator Greg Nicotero (The Walking Dead) focuses on his work for the franchise, deleted and alternate scenes taken from both Coscarelli's own 35mm archive, and a work print of the film featuring mostly extended dialogue sequences, though a couple of the picture's grislier moments are also expanded. Short featurettes on makeup and effects and several stunt scenes should be familiar to fans that have seen previous DVD editions, though die-hard Phantasm aficionados will be both pleased and amused by the inclusion of a vintage educational short film for Encyclopedia Britannica starring Scrimm (under his real name, Rory Guy) as Abraham Lincoln. Trailers for the first three Phantasm pictures, as well as galleries of production stills and promotional art, round out this enjoyable disc. --Paul Gaita
The Tall Man is back with a vengeance in Phantasm II, the second chapter in the cult classic Phantasm series!
Released after seven years in a mental hospital, Mike convinces his old pal Reggie to join forces with him to hunt down and destroy The Tall Man once and for all. Mikes visions lead the two to a quiet little town where a horde of flying killer balls aim to slice and dice their gruesome way through everyone. Exploding with special effects, unparalleled thrills, horror and suspense, Phantasm II climaxes with a blood-curdling conclusion that you have to see to believe