Phantasm II (1988)

6.5 Overall Score
Story: 5/10
Acting: 5/10
Visuals: 7/10

Fun goofy horror film

Pretty gory and not for everyone

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Phantasm II

Studio:  Universal Pictures

Genre(s):  Horror

Release Date(s):  July 8, 1988

MPAA Rating:  R


Someone is going to have to clean all this up!

Mike Pearson (James LeGros) finds himself released from an institution after years of trying to make others believe in the existence of the Tall Man (Angus Scrimm).  When the family of Reggie (Reggie Bannister) are murdered by the Tall Man, Reggie and Mike set out on the road to stop the Tall Man and his plans once and for all.  Mike discovers a girl named Liz Reynolds (Paula Irvine) who he’s been having visions of and also knows the evil of the Tall Man.  Reggie, Mike, and Liz become the target of the Tall Man’s plans but find the Tall Man, his dwarfs, and the killer balls might be too powerful for them to stop.

Written and directed by Don Coscarelli, Phantasm II was the big screen follow-up to the cult horror film Phantasm of 1979.  The movie did poorly at the box office and was criticized for its violence but did gain a cult following.  The TV broadcast of Phantasm II altered the film’s storyline and included extra scenes not seen in original film.


Hey, it’s Freddy! Nope, just the Tall Man…

Phantasm II was my first introduction to Phantasm.  I was too young to even remember Phantasm when Phantasm II commercials started airing (“The ball is back!”), but had to see it as a fan of horror movies.  I went back and rented the bizarre Phantasm and then saw Phantasm II when it was released on VHS…though Phantasm was much more creative and fun, I still enjoy Phantasm II for its very ’80s feel.

Phantasm II is bigger and badder than the original film.  The movie (despite only a $3,000,000 budget) was a much bigger budget than the original Phantasm.  The studio wanted a more linear story to compete with some of the other popular horror films like Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street, but Phantasm II still has a lot of unexplained weirdness with people changing sex, floating balls with lasers, and weird other dimensions.  This movie does little to explain it, and I kind of like it for that reason.


Reggie…Ice Cream Man & Chainsaw Wielding Maniac!

The movie unfortunately only brought back Reggie Bannister as ice cream man Reggie.  Reggie isn’t the best actor, but like The Evil Dead’s Bruce Campbell, it works here.  Mike Baldwin was replaced with James LeGros as Mike Pearson under pressure (Brad Pitt famously applied for the role).  Baldwin returned for the sequels, but is only seen her in the Phantasm flashback scenes at the beginning of the film.  The obvious star of the movie is Angus Scrimm as the Tall Man (aka Lawrence Rory Guy)…the thin man maintains his creep position with his booming voice and presence (“You think that when you die, you go to Heaven…you come to us!”).


Bow to the Tall Man!

This film has a bit of a different look than the original film.  The first film was gritty and obviously low budget.  Here, the movie is cleaned up a bit, but stylistically is also more adventuresome.  Sam Raimi is a friend of Don Coscarelli and you can see a lot of Evil Dead 2 in Phantasm II (with a direct reference including a bag of ashes with the label “Mr. Sam Raimi”).  Much like the “evil” view in The Evil Dead, you get a firsthand perspective from the ball and you also get some chainsaw jokes…fortunately you also get gross out stuff throughout the movie (I always felt Phantasm was a bit more scary and dangerous than The Evil Dead).

Phantasm II is definitely work seeking out if you like ’80s horror and just out and out weird horror.  The movie doesn’t make much sense, but you do need to see the first Phantasm (which also doesn’t make the most sense)…just remember “It’s only a dream!”  Phantasm II was followed by the straight-to-video Phantasm III:  Lord of the Dead in 1994.

Related Links:

Phantasm (1979)

Phantasm V:  Ravager (2016)


Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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