Phantasm II

phantasm 2 cat vs kirk

My father was fond of telling us about the time when he was given a creativity test as part of a psychology class he was taking. The test consisted of a list of three items and a certain amount of time, and the goal was to come up with as many possible uses for those three items in the allotted time. His items were a tin can, a piece of string and a nail. One of the items on his list was "a summer home for Tinkerbell."

That's an interesting way to measure a person's creative output. I would like to propose a different rubric: I want to show you a series of images from a movie, and then I want to see if you can tell a coherent story that connects them. Because if you can, in fact, do that then you are better at creating than the people who made Phantasm II.

I definitely watched Phantasm II, but I'm not sure I comprehended any of it. Here's what I can tell you for sure: there's a young man who has psychic visions and after he is released from a mental hospital he goes to a local graveyard and starts digging up some graves. He's caught in the act by an older guy who probably isn't his father? The two of them then decide to team up to stop a villain named The Tall Man. Who is the Tall Man? Well, towards the end of the movie he is revealed to be from another dimension, if that helps explain anything.

Anyway, The Tall Man can bring the dead back to life, but his creations aren't really zombies - some of them look exactly the same as before they died and some of them look like rubber faced dwarves in druid robes. I don't know why some of them get shrunk and others don't? Is he planning on using these undead creations to take over the Earth, or does he have some smaller (but still nefarious) purpose in mind for them? Your guess is as good as mine.

Also, there's a priest that seems to not like The Tall Man, but I'm not sure if he knows the two guys who met up in the graveyard. It's a moot point anyway, because The Tall Man uses telepathy to kill the priest before he can do much of anything. I guess The Tall Man is telepathic? Also he can summon flying orbs that have knives in them and the knives are the key to the other dimension? And the flying orbs really don't like this undertaker guy who keeps trying to reanimate dead people, so you'd think he'd be on The Tall Man's side but I guess not?

This film is some serious Grade-A level craziness. It's the sort of movie which would probably make more sense if it was in a language I didn't speak. The iconography makes a lot of sense: the creepy super tall guy is evil. Anyone who is obviously undead is not to be trusted. The older bald guy seems like an all American type dude, so when he gets into a chainsaw fight with a guy in a gas mask I should probably root against the gas mask guy. (Yes, there is a scene where two men swing chainsaws at each other.)

The problem is that I do speak English, so I can recognize that at no point does any part of this movie logically flow together. Most of the characters are in different locations with different agendas, so the lack of clarifying exposition creates a lot of problems. After awhile it starts to feel like everyone is in  a different movie entirely, especially since the script plays pretty fast and loose with the rules. When it's revealed towards the end of the movie that one of our heroes (who up to this point has been a normal human) has a telepathic connection to his high school girlfriend when he dreams, I was like, well, of course. (Naturally, psychic dreams were never mentioned again after that scene.)

 You can't see the bald dude's chainsaw because he's shoved it inside Gas Mask Guy's crotch. true story, y'all

You can't see the bald dude's chainsaw because he's shoved it inside Gas Mask Guy's crotch. true story, y'all

But enough with being negative. The same way that those psychologists gave my father meager supplies and asked him to make the most of it, I've decided to take the underdefined concepts of Phantasm II as a challenge to my own creativity. Here's the story that I wrote that would try to connect the above images into one linear whole:

Once upon a time there was a deformed weirdo who was keeping a woman at the bottom of a well. He kept telling this woman that if she didn't put the lotion he lowered down in a bucket onto her skin then bad things would happen to her. This one blonde lady just wouldn't listen to him, and sure enough, a bad thing did happen to her: she grew a skin rash that looked like a demonic face. It was a bummer.

But that little skin rash grew up to be a tiny deformed man, and that deformed man escaped the well. He wasn't strong enough to go too far, but he did get far enough that he could touch his forehead against the forehead of a passing lumberjack. When he did that, they formed a psychic connection and he told the lumberjack to go kill the evil weirdo who was keeping women in a well. The lumberjack got his chainsaw and took care of business, killing the weirdo and all of his henchmen. The End.

Now it's your turn to play at home. And know that if you come up a little short of the gold standard - a summer home for Tinkerbell - don't feel too bad; you're probably still a few steps ahead of the good folks who brought you Phantasm II. 

Winner: The Cat 

Phantasm II on IMDB