Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Revisiting Phantasm 2

As a child I loved the Phantasm series and I distinctly remember having a profound love for the second Phantasm movie than the first one. I could never understand why and I was itching to find the second film but the DVD was never at the library, I didn’t have the money to buy the DVD off a website so I waited until an opportunity came. Well, that opportunity came in the form of Corey from Evil on Two Legs… ‘cause he gave me a whole bunch of VHS’ that he didn’t want and one of them was Phantasm II. This was perfect for me because I used to watch that movie all the time on taper rather than DVD so I got to watch it the old fashioned way. It was a blast to the past for me.

While I sat there watching the movie I tried to figure out why I liked this movie so much and why my love for it overshadowed the original. The acting was pretty bad and the dialogue was very corny and seemed scripted, however it had it’s good moments like the entire montage of Reggie and Mike raiding a tool store and making custom guns and flamethrowers. After the second act (or after the car exploded) things got really good and I finally found out why I loved this movie as a kid; it’s because of the action and the gore/effects. Compared to the original movie, this one had some of the best action and some of the best gore that I had seen as a kid.

In terms of action there is a lot of it and it starts off in the first few minutes of the movie when Reggie is battling the minions inside the home. I counted about 3 explosions in this movie, which was eye candy for me as a kid and still is. I also was pretty thrilled to see a car chase between Mike, and Reggie and The Tall man because to me it felt like the situation got more serious and at that point there is more at stake; neither of them are going out without a fight and that it was almost like a prelude to an epic battle inside. Psychologically this is what it felt like although I am sure most of you might just think it was another shitty car chase.

I also noticed that there were more sentinel spheres, which I also enjoyed and these ones were particularly different. There are two that look and do the same thing but the gold one is a tad more brutal than the other ones. The scene where one of the undertakers gets attacked by the gold sphere was amazing, even as I watched it now I was captivated by it. The sphere bores into his back and starts shredding his insides as it makes its way towards his head… but it gets stuck in his mouth. It was unnerving and it made me cringe. The scene in which the Tall Man attacks Mike was the best scene out of the entire movie. Reggie stabs the Tall Man with a metal tube and begins pumping acid into his body. Yellow slime starts to spray all over the place as the Tall Man’s skin begins to melt. It’s a fantastic scene of utter disgust. I can tell you right now that scene alone made me want to watch this movie over and over again.

Another one of the most memorable things from this movie that has stuck with me all these years were the two funeral henchman. I could never understand why but I guess the reason lies within the fact that I used to enjoy when there was more than one villain. As a kid, it made the journey tougher and it I just enjoyed the idea that funeral workers would turn evil and attack people with hatches for no reason. By the age of 8 or 9 I had been to 8 funerals and 1 wedding, so I really got used to the whole funeral setting. Not only were there just two henchman, the Tall Man’s minions played a huge part in this and you had the guy with the gas mask and chainsaw. The best part was the introduction to the three sentinel spheres.

When the movie ended I ejected the tape and I sat back in my chair for a minute to reflect on what I just watched. I then realized something that I knew about but never fully understood until now: the acting may be bad and the dialogue a bit corny but if the imagery has stuck with me all these years than it must mean that the movie is more than just a bad movie. A movie can be bad in terms of filmmaking but that doesn’t mean that it’s bad in entertainment value. If a movie can entertain you, than I guess it did it’s job and I know that other things entertain some people. I would categorize this under my guilty pleasures… no wait! This is a guilty pleasure because I am proud to say that this movie is a favorite of mine. Sure, it’s not the original and it no longer holds to place as being my favorite of the series but it’s a pretty good film. It’s 80s cheese at it’s best and for me, it’s the nostalgia of the film that will always make me sit through it from beginning to end.


The Vicar of VHS said...

I just wanted to say "Here here!" to this:

>>A movie can be bad in terms of filmmaking but that doesn’t mean that it’s bad in entertainment value. If a movie can entertain you, than I guess it did its job

This is kind of a nutshell version of the movie-watching philosophy that I and my partner the Duke of DVD share, and that we try to celebrate on our site. (We even wrote a MMMMManifesto to the effect.) IMO the worst thing a movie can do is be boring--if it's entertaining, intentionally or not, good effects/acting or bad, then it has its own worth.

I haven't seen Phantasm II probably since the 80s, but now I want to seek it out again!

forestofthedead said...

Hail to the Vicar and to Paradise.
Entertaining is my key favorite thing in horror. Like lots of flavors but entertaining is my main food.

And rock on to a great reviewer rocking out on VHS. I love this post.

R.D. Penning said...

This series will always remain in my top 3 horror series of all time. I own all four, and I get really pissed when they keep dropping the fifth one. This movie already spans four decades, and never loses its appeal, and with one exception, it keeps the same cast for all four movies! That is extremely impressive, considering the time frame. I love the Phantasm series, man I can't say that enough. Great bad movies!

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