While lacking much of the dreamy atmospheric feel that the first film possesses, Phantasm II makes up for it with both all-out action and fantastic special effects.
In many ways, this flick comes across as a buddy road trip movie, with Reggie (Reggie Bannister) and Michael (James Le Gros, replacing Michael Baldwin) attempting to track down and kill The Tall Man. It’s a fun romp, and seeing Reggie with his chainsaw and Mike with his makeshift flamethrower searching through desolate buildings carries with it a lot of appeal.
Even with this film coming out nine years after the original, Reggie Bannister still does a great job with his character, and though I’d have preferred Baldwin to be recast as Mike, Le Gros doesn’t come across as too out of place. Paula Irvine does a pretty good job as Liz (Mike’s love interest), and Samantha Phillips, while lacking in screen-time, has a strong presence also. Needless to say, Angus Scrimm continues to dominate as The Tall Man, and does a fantastic job as a threatening, powerful, unknown force.
Like I said, the movie mostly lacks the dreamy, somewhat incoherent feel of the first film (though it does pop up now and again throughout the movie), and instead replaces that by-and-large with an action/road trip, which, while at times fun, doesn’t quite have the same effect. It felt more Hollywood, in short. Which isn’t to say the movie still doesn’t stand out, but the feel of the movie is certainly far removed from the first.
That said, the action sequences (chainsaw fight, for example) and special effects (Tall Man’s scenes near the end) were top-notch, and highly recommended to any fan of horror. Much like the first movie, Phantasm II also leaves us with a lot of unanswered questions, which has it’s pros and cons. The beginning and ending both seem a bit of a jumbled mess (really makes us question what the reality of the first and second movies really were), but while somewhat annoying, it has it’s charms too.
Phantasm II isn’t as good as the original movie, but it is still a very strong film, and undoubtedly more fun than the original, but probably, in the end, less memorable. Certainly worth watching still, as this series really is one that has to be seen to believe.