Let’s make a franchise.
Phantasm 2 picks up years after the events of the first film. One of the most interesting aspects of this sequel is that we can see a sort of trend forming in horror sequels. After the events of the first film (should go ahead and put a spoiler warning here), we find Mike in a psychiatric hospital. Having the protagonist end up in a mental institution is an odd trope—one that I hadn’t really thought about before.
The influence this series has had on other films cannot be understated. This one works as Supernatural 1.0 in a lot of ways, as we have Reggie and Mike in a cool old car hunting a demon (or whatever the hell the Tall Man is) across the land. The mixture of horror, fantasy, action, and comedy fits well into that series, and I would be surprised if this film wasn’t influential to the creators of that show.
I’d have to create a chart to see what films this one is borrowing from and which it is inspiring, but the tropes present (or created) here make the film a bit predictable. Granted, this one is also weird enough to where they can make stuff up on the fly…
The sequel is probably the better viewing experience, but the inferior film. The ideas of death, trauma, and recovery are present, but in a more mainstream and less surreal. While I believe this makes the film less academic, it sure does make it an easier view. You could throw this one in and be able to passively enjoy it.
Reggie and Mike make an interesting team throughout. We get the impression they are novice at what they are doing, which helps explain their ineptness in the fights. The Tall Man’s seeming inability to hurt a protagonist is not explained outside of the idea of plot armor.
The plot can be boiled down to Tall Man bad and Mike good. We get the additional character of Liz, but what her purpose is to the greater narrative isn’t clear, and it seems like her addition was more meant to give Mike a love interest than anything else. Characters come and go out of this series without much reason. The episodic structure works if you’re wanting a fun movie, but it makes the overarching lore a bit thin.
It is weird to review these movies. Mike and Reggie want to stop the Tall Man, who is stealing the dead to become slaves on his home world, and that is about all we know at this point in the series. The sequels will add additional complications, but we basically have a simple good versus evil story that doesn’t have the time for developing the plot in a meaningful way. The absence of the surreal elements makes this one feel a little too by-the-numbers to be a legend, but it is enjoyable enough.
The film doesn’t ask much of you. You’re just along for the ride. I think fans of the original will like it well enough. We do get a four barreled shotgun here, so there is a major perk to watching it.
Worth streaming if you like the broader ideas of the first film.