Phantasm II

It’s not too early to sharpen up your pinball skills. In April Pinball at the Zoo’ returns with all the flashing lights and dinging sounds your senses can handle. Now I wouldn’t really consider myself a pinball wizard. I’m neither deaf, dumb, nor blind… well…. o.k 2 out 3 ain’t too bad, but I do play a pretty mean pinball. I rate my pinball playing skill at a “David Blane” level. It’s lots of hype with no really big payoff. Mostly it’s just  me jumping around and yelling obscenities at the ball. But I can’t help it, I’m addicted to the game. The combination of precise skill shots and random chaos, the lights, the cheesy digital music, the way the arcade owner gives me an evil glare when I tilt the machine on it’s side. It all makes my fingers twitchy just thinking about it.

This year the Zoo’ will have the usual assortment of vendors to buy some cool pinball swag but the big draw has got to be that tournament trophy and 1st place pinball machine. Oh that would look great in my living room right next to that leg lamp Santa brought me. There’ll also be an arcade auction where you too can take home a piece of your childhood memories minus the pubescent humiliations and locker stuffings. Hundreds of arcade and pinball machines going cheaper than what you’d pay for a Playstation, and just like a cheap hooker if you overlook some cigarette stains you can get yourself a good deal. So come all ye pinheads and basement Game Room dwellers. Pilgrimage forth squinting in the sunlight to play with ye balls and flippers. You might just go home with a trophy to impress the ladies or at least a used game. Good luck fitting it in the back of that 83 Pinto.

Phantasm IISpeaking of evil silver balls hurdling at your face, Phantasm II continues the fine tradition of flying death spheres ready to impale and dismember. The Tall Man, Angus Scrimm, is back to work digging up corpses and shrinking them down to evil dwarf monks for his army of the dead. Mike (James LeGros) has recently been let out of the insane asylum and is heading back home with his old pal Reggie from Phantasm I. Reg is a balding unemployed ice cream truck driver and ever since the ice cream market tanked he’s been living at home with his family. He refuses to acknowledge the events of the first film ever happened until The Tall Man kills his whole family in a spectacular gas explosion that would make Michael Bay weepy. All those gallons of ice cream lost forever… oh the humanity!! Hungry for revenge and Rocky Road they take a road trip in their Hemi Barricuda searching abandoned towns and dug up graveyards for the evil mortician.

The two take a pit stop in a creepy abandoned town where Mike communicates telepathically with his out of state girlfriend Liz when he sleeps. She’s a squeaky voiced bimbo whose in love with Mike even though they’ve never actually met. It’s sorta like Internet dating only with ESP. Liz’s grandfather just kicked the bucket recently so she’s been hanging out in mausoleum filing her nails, and getting tossed around by the tall man like drinking night at Ike Turner’s house. Soon her recently buried and now zombified grandpa tries out his new door to door sales job on the local town’s priest knocking at his door and giving him a good scare then crawls into bed afterwards with grandma. Dang! Grandpa didn’t get this much action when he was alive.

Liz heads to the mausoleum where grandma’s already been Shrinky Dinked down into a Star Wars Jawa and proceeds to viciously attack Liz’s knee caps. She easily put her down with a china vase to the noggin’. This sort of begs the question, why would the tall man raise an evil army of weak midget monks with thin skulls? Doesn’t seem like the best way to take over the world. Maybe he could have stretched them out instead of leaving them in the oven so long.

Phantasm II

Meanwhile the priest catches a bad case of van Gogh-itis losing an ear and gets his head drilled in by a flying Cuisinart. This barely gives Liz enough time to escape into the nearby cemetery tripping over Mike and Reg already hiding out in an open grave. They all run like little girls and barricade themselves in a nearby abandoned house where they make S’mores, sing Kumbaya, and rig up grenades with Budweiser cans. Reggie then puts his moves on the nymphomaniac hitchhiker they picked up earlier whose got a thing for balding hippies who play guitar. Wow what are the odds? While those two are doing the naked lambada upstairs, Liz is left alone so she can be more easily kidnapped through the a convenient plate glass window. At this point she’s probably feeling like she should’ve just stayed in bed.

So it’s back to the mausoleum again where Reg and Mike battle evil henchmen in gas masks with giant chainsaws and shoot up dwarfs for target practice. They also get attacked by more flying drill spheres with upgraded seek and destroy lasers and then wrestle with some pasty white guys in rented tuxes.  Seriously guys some blondes just aren’t worth all this. But they do eventually free Liz from a pre death embalming and get sucked into a cross dimensional gateway…all because Mike had to be all “wonder what this button does?” Turns out the “other side” looks a lot like an abandoned beach in Jersey complete with red skies and mutant dwarfs in toxic waste barrels. One of the baby dwarfs nearly eats Reggie’s face when it’s turkey pop up timer goes off. This all leads up to a big showdown back in the real world with the tall man, a embalming needle, and some sulfuric acid and that’s when you know you got a party.

In typical Phantasm fashion the ending doesn’t make a lick of sense but who really cares. It’s such a fun ride just getting there. Any movie that has four-barreled shot guns, 5 foot long chainsaws, and homicidal dwarfs gets extra bonus points in my book. The director Don Coscarelli really out did himself on this one with some obvious nods to “Evil Dead”, and  “The Beyond” and it also gave us more of The Tall Man and his evil scowl of creepiness. Phantasm II is one of those rare films where the sequel really out performs the original. Retroman Steve says check it out…. but only during visitation hours. Also be sure to keep your coffins stored in a cool dry place for freshness.

– Exploding house
– Exploding rats
– Ear choppin’
– Embalming-fu
– Chainsaw to the groin
– Corpse stabbing
– Forehead drilling
– Exploding Cudas
– Hand choppin’
– Flame-throwers
– Sawed off double barrel shotguns
– Dwarf tossin’
– Head drillin’
– Embalming acid
– Barrel-o-dwarfs

9.5 out of 10

“it’s Phantastic!”

Check out the trailer for Phantasm II