Horrorfest 2014 Presents: Phantasm II (1988, Don Coscarelli)


Created almost a decade after the original cult classic, Phantasm II is a really cool, well made sequel. Reggie, Mike return to do battle with The Tall Man once more after surviving the events of the first film. Hunting the evil being across the United States, this film has the look and feel of a road trip movie in addition to being a horror film. The stakes are even higher in this movie, as Mike rushes to save a girl he loves from a terrifying fate.

Unlike the first movie there is more action involved. Particularly in the form of a chainsaw battle, which is epic. Also the flying spheres of death are back and one turns out to be the ultimate in horribly killing people. The series retains its dark sense of humor and keeps the strong weird factor that makes it so watchable and interesting in the first place.

Furthermore elements of this film are right at home stylistically when it comes to some of Don Coscarelli’s work. You have inter-dimensional beings, sinister henchmen that dress only in black, and even a mocking of organized religion. It seems that many of the 80s and 90s horror films had something to comment about God, the Devil, and evil versus good in the world. Also the flamethrower moments plus the beings from another plane of existence reminded me a bit of one of his latest films, John Dies At The End, which I also enjoyed last year.

Naturally this is not the last entry in the series. I look forward to viewing the rest of the Phantasm series and enjoying what they have to offer. Oh and they are making another one, which just goes to show that nothing truly ends.

It’s Hammer Time Presents: The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958, Terence Fisher)


I’m not quite sure how this film’s title makes any sense, although perhaps Frankenstein achieves revenge by living, I guess? Cleverly escaping being executed for his horrible crimes and for creating a monster that killed people in the first installment, the good Baron takes up a new practice in England. The local doctors are jealous of his talents, so Frankenstein must plan ahead and try to remain a step up above the usual people hounding him, and of course the authorities too. Hans, a long doctor (played by Francis Matthews) figures out who the Baron is and forces him to become his mentor. I actually like Peter Cushing best in this installment, as he expertly goes from being kind to his typical madman, a doctor who treats the poor but is also using them as parts for his experiments. What Frankenstein achieves this time is taking a hunchback, Karl-who helped Frankenstein escape-and transform him into a normal man by transplanting his brain. The experiment is a success, and yet the new Karl (Michael Gwynn) refuses to go along with the main plan, with disastrous consequences.

What surprised me is that this film is equal to the first installment, and that Fisher manages to equal his previous grand achievement, giving birth to a sequel that is one of the best sequels ever made in my opinion. Revenge is creepy, thrilling, and rather dark, as poor Karl becomes a tragic figure damned by man and by the Baron, cheated out of a happy life. In a way he is even more pitiful than the famous creature that Christopher Lee and Boris Karloff previously embodied, for he is a normal looking man and yet due to circumstances beyond his control his life is ruined. The Baron never looks back or shows remorse, and this is aptly showcased in The Revenge of Frankenstein.

How the film ends I will not reveal, but I will say that with this installment Frankenstein becomes something akin to a slasher villain: its not possible to defeat him, even with the authorities in hot pursuit. The final shot is rather chilling, and this film has all the grace marks of a good Fisher Hammer Studios movie. So far I have not viewed any other movies that come close to matching Revenge or Curse of Frankenstein, and I doubt I will. They have style and elegance, proper intelligence and excellent pacing.

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