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It took Don Coscarelli nine years to bring the first PHANTASM sequel to the screen. Produced under the auspices of Universal Pictures, the film's $3 million budget was many times larger than that of the original PHANTASM. Though minuscule by studio standards (PHANTASM II was the lowest-budgeted film Universal produced that decade!) it allowed Coscarelli to work on a much larger canvas.

As with the original PHANTASM, interior sets were constructed in a warehouse in Chatsworth, California and exteriors were filmed at various locations around Southern California.
 

The make-up effects for PHANTASM II were significantly more elaborate than the original film. At director Sam Raimi's suggestion, Mark Shostrom (Evil Dead II) was hired to create the make-up effects. Shostrom in turn hired Greg Nicotero and Robert Kurtzman as his key assistants. Nicotero and Kurtzman went on to create KNB Effects, one of Hollywood's most successful prosthetic makeup effects studios.

 
 
The practical special effects were also more elaborate requiring numerous explosions, flying bodies, dueling chainsaws, flamethrowers and, of course, the Quad-barrel shotgun. A sequence involving an entire 2-story house exploding in flames was filmed using a genuine house which was in the path of the California 105 freeway construction. The PHANTASM II production company bought the house for $200 from the State of California, with the proviso that they would move it from the site. The house was rigged with primer cord, mortars, black powder bombs and a "helluva lot" of gasoline and blown up in a spectacular, fiery explosion. Afterward the company kept their word and removed the house...well what was left of it!
 
 The sphere effects were split between Dream Quest Images(D. Kerry Prior, the sphere supervisor on PHANTASM III, built the spinning-bladed sphere which sliced off the priest's ear) and Steve Patino who constructed a dazzling array of spheres.

When asked about the difference between the situation filming the original and that of being involved with a major studio, Coscarelli admits to the following direct influences by Universal on the making of PHANTASM II

* The illusory style of the first PHANTASM was discouraged and a more linear plot line with frequent explanations was required.

* No dreams by characters were allowed in the final cut.
 
* Original PHANTASM star Mike Baldwin was passed over in favor of actor James LeGros.

PHANTASM II opened in the summer of 1988 to critical raves. Film critic Dave Kehr of the Chicago Tribute wrote, “Coscarelli has captured the texture of a disjointed, half-remembered nightmare,” and the New York Times called Phantasm II, “grotesquely stylish and scary.”
 
To date PHANTASM II is considered by fans as the most action-packed PHANTASM ever made. Coscarelli takes great pride in that, saying,  “PHANTASM II was our action epic in the series and it’s nice to know our fans appreciate it.”

 
 

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