Saturday, November 8, 2008

Phantasm II (1988)

...aka: Never Dead, Part Two, The

Directed by:
Don Coscarelli

Well-budgeted, slicker and more professionally put together "sequel" to director Coscarelli's 1979 original doesn't really add anything new to the storyline, nor does it try to clarify the original's muddy plot points, but it's also not a bad way to spend an hour and a half of your time. The major problem is that it lacks the quirky originality of the first, but it delivers in some other areas the original didn't. A pair of teen psychics (James Le Gros, a much more charismatic replacement for the original's Michael Baldwin, and Paula Irvine), as well as Mike's uncle Reggie (Reggie Bannister) and a mysterious hitchhiker (Samantha Phillips) team up to thwart the plans of the sinister Tall Man (Angus Scrimm), who's up to his old tricks again. The brain-drilling, blood-slinging flying spheres and killer mutant cannibal gnomes return and various other bad guy morticians and hearse drivers are also around to try their hand at dispatching our heroes. The who and why are still extremely vague in terms of who these people are what they plan to accomplish. We do get a clue during a scene that looks inside some kind of alternate universe, which is in located between a pair of humming, electromagnetic steel beams where the mutant midgets are born and bred to crawl out into our world to... Ahhhh, whatever. Forgettaboutit!

Like I said before, it's all smoothly slapped together for what it is and if you can get past the vagueness of character motivations and accept all the bad guys as simply collective evil, the excellent (and plentiful) gore FX by Mark Shostrom (EVIL DEAD 2), creative directorial touches and action scenes will deliver the goods. Robert Kurtzman, Gregory Nicotero and Everett Burrell (who later former the impressive KNB Group) also worked on the make-up. The cinematography is very good, most of the acting is acceptable and there are some great locations used, including a large mortuary. The cast includes Kenneth Tigar, Stacey Travis (HARDWARE), Phil Fondacaro and Ed Gale.

Score: 6 out of 10

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