monster

Shaun vs. Phantasm II (1988)

2phanDirected by Don Coscarelli

Starring James Legros, Reggie Bannister and Angus Scrimm

Surviving the events of the previous film, Michael and Reggie team up to hunt the Tall Man down once and for all after Michael’s brother and Reggie’s family are done in by the killer undertaker from another world.


Well, the series asks that we believe even more weird stuff than before. Apparently Michael survived the dream-like events of the last movie and after telling everyone his tale of wonder and suspense, they locked him up in an asylum. He gets out after seven years but unfortunately he has some psychic link to the Tall Man, who is able to contact others as well, such as Liz, a girl who dreams of Michael saving her. Reggie is back too, but this time he’s involved until the end because the Tall Man brings him in to the fun by killing his entire family in an explosion.

2phan2

Nevermind the shotgun, here’s my chainsaw, ain’t it groovy?

After breaking into a hardware store for some equipment (leaving money in the till, they’re the good guys afterall), they speed off across the country in search of the Tall Man. They follow the towns he’s been too, he leaves a trail of dead towns with all their cemeteries dug up. Meanwhile, the Tall Man is going after Liz, trying to kidnap her to prevent her and Michael getting together. Surely that means they have a chance at beating this monster right? I’m not so sure, as I got this feeling during the entire movie that the Tall Man was just fucking with the good guys every step of the way. At any moment he could do whatever he wanted but he chose to mess with our heroes the entire film.

2phan3

Pffft.

This time around, Universal was footing the bill for this movie, so Coscarelli did what someone with money should always do in their movies…blow shit up! Cars, houses, heads, yeeeah! The film definitely comes off looking better in all aspects than the previous movie, though there are a few points where you can see the wire which the spheres travel on. It was still low budget by studio standards (around $3 million), but overall, the movie still looks good. Even the zombie dwarf things have faces now.

2phan4

Kuato from Total Recall appears in a cameo!

I think my biggest gripe with the movie, and the series overall, is the lack of explanation for anything that is happening. I don’t mind watching weird things happen as long as there is some sort of explanation, a method to the madness. Unfortunately, whenever we’re given an explanation, it’s not very thorough and we’re still left questioning. After two films, we’ve still yet to find out what the Tall Man really is and what his true motives are, aside from grave robbing. We’re given so little information we’re left just a little more confused than we were before we started. The unknown is scary, but when it’s this weird, we’re going to need a little more to go on.

2phan5

Uh, this is a horror movie, guys. You’re doing this wrong.

James LeGros takes over playing Michael this time around, although Michael Baldwin will return for the rest of the series. LeGros does a pretty good job, he could’ve stuck around a little longer. Reggie Banniser returns as…Reggie. Although introduced as just an ice cream vendor in the original, this is the movie that defines Reggie as a gun-toting hound dog who has a bad record with the women. He creates the now legendary quad shotgun and becomes a horny old man due to being on the road all the time. Angus Scrimm returns as the Tall Man and now has twice as much dialogue compared to the original. Scrimm is great, he has a certain presence about him where you just have to watch him.

TL;DR

Story: 7 – The originality is there and this is much better than the previous film but you need to watch the first one to even try to understand this one.

Blood: 7 – Shotgun blasts, a chainsaw fight, exploding eyeballs and of course, sphere attacks make this a bloody affair.

Nudity: 5 – Reggie gets lucky this time around!

Overall: 7– Much more watchable than the previous entry.

Trivia

-The actor who played Mike in the original and subsequently came back for parts 3 and 4, A. Michael Baldwin, was replaced with James Le Gros for this film after Universal executives forced Don Coscarelli to recast the roles of both Mike and Reggie.  One of the actors who auditioned for the role was a young Brad Pitt.

-The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops greatly objected upon the movie’s release, labeling it “morally offensive.”

-One of the Tall Man’s dwarves pours cremated remains into a bag labeled “Mr. Sam Raimi.”

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