The first Phantasm wasn’t just an exercise in inventive low budget filmmaking, it dealt with the cultural fear of cemeteries. The second film has no such allusions. In fact, it’s just an example of bad low budget filmmaking. Clearly–and one can just google for more information–there were a lot of behind the scenes squabbles between director Coscarelli and Universal Pictures… but knowing the reasons for the problems doesn’t make them go away.
First and foremost is James Le Gros. He worked again after Phantasm II, which doesn’t seem possible. He adds a cartoony atmosphere to it–a way too buff (considering he’d just spent seven years in a mental institution) blond-haired emo kid. It’s such a terrible role–Coscarelli, regardless of studio interference, shares some of the blame as his writing for the character is atrocious–I’m using the term “emo” for the first time on The Stop Button.
But Coscarelli doesn’t only write bad stuff here–he writes lots of good stuff for Reggie Bannister, lots of funny material. The sex scene between Bannister and Samantha Phillips (who’s more annoyingly mediocre than bad) is absolutely hilarious, as she reveals she has a fetish for bald men–Bannister’s reaction is fantastic.
The ostensible female lead–Paula Irvine–is pretty much a lame eighties ingénue, but not bad.
And Coscarelli also turns Angus Scrimm’s previously nearly silent and very scary Tall Man into a talkative and lame eighties horror movie villain.
Some good effects–but otherwise disastrous.
Written and directed by Don Coscarelli; director of photography, Daryn Okada; edited by Peter Teschner; music by Fred Myrow and Christopher L. Stone; production designer, Philip Duffin; produced by Roberto A. Quezada; released by Universal Pictures.
Starring James Le Gros (Mike), Reggie Bannister (Reggie), Angus Scrimm (The Tall Man), Paula Irvine (Liz), Samantha Phillips (Alchemy), Kenneth Tigar (Father Meyers), Ruth C. Engel (Grandma), Mark Anthony Major (Mortician), Rubin Kushner (Grandpa) and Stacey Travis (Jeri).