"PHANTASM III: LORD OF THE DEAD"
by Kevin Carr
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|| MOVIE: **1/2 (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5 stars)
Reggie Bannister as REGGIE
A. Michael Baldwin as MIKE
Bill Thornbury as JODY
Angus Scrimm as THE TALL MAN
Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Directed by: Don Coscarelli
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Along with the re-release of Don Coscarelli’s “Phantasm,” Anchor Bay Entertainment has also released “Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead.”
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Why no “Phantasm II”? Well, apparently that title is tied up in a legal battle with Universal Studios. Supposedly Coscarelli wants to get it out there on DVD. For whatever reason they have, Universal Studios doesn’t want to.
Boo to Universal! Of all the “Phantasm” sequels, the second film was the best. It didn’t quite live up to the first one, but it’s better than the next two installments. Unfortunately, Universal doesn’t see the fan base that would snatch up the DVD, and it will probably remain perpetually unreleased.
So we’re left to ponder “Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead” as the next sequel to the legend of the Tall Man. This film takes off where the last (and unavailable) film ends. Although the events of the first film were deemed a dream by Reggie (Reggie Bannister) and Mike (A. Michael Baldwin), they have learned the Tall Man does exist. He travels the land, stealing corpses from graves to ship them back to his home planet.
Reggie and Mike are on the run, trying to track the Tall Man down. Along the way, Mike is captured, and Jody (Bill Thornbury) returns to their realm as a friendly sentinel sphere. As Reggie looks for Mike and the Tall Man, he meets up with other refugees from the towns the Tall Man has decimated. Together, they join forces to put an end to the Tall Man’s evil ways.
By the time Coscarelli reached the third movie, the stories had deteriorated quite a bit. The freshness from the first film, and the eerie vision he put on the screen had softened a bit. Part of it comes from the era. The 70s made for a great horror film. However, the 90s offered a little too much cheese with punkish gangs and goofy ninja moves. Sure, there’s still the ’71 Hemi ‘Cuda and the four-barrel shotgun, but it’s not enough to get past nunchucks and biker zombies.
Still, “Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead” isn’t a total waste. Some essential elements are added to the mythology. Angus Scrimm is as creepy as can be, and we learn a little more about those evil silver balls. Coscarelli manages to add some cool elements to the story, and as far as direct-to-video sequels go, it isn’t terrible.
The DVD comes with a thin assortment of extra features, including a commentary with A. Michael Baldwin and Angus Scrimm and a behind-the-scenes video.
While “Phantasm III” was still decent to watch, it left me longing for “Phantasm II” to be released from legal purgatory. Maybe one of these days, Universal Pictures will come to its senses, and we’ll see the complete series in a box set.
Specifications: Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 Surround Sound. Widescreen (1.85:1) – enhanced for 16x9 televisions.