The Drudgeon reviews Phantasm III – Lord Of The Dead

Phantasm III - Lord Of The Dead 91 min., 1994
Written by Don Coscarelli
Directed by Don Coscarelli
Language: English
My rating: ★★★★

The story gets a little bit weirder (if that’s really possible).

* * *

Like Phantasm II, part III rewinds a little bit and retells the end of II.  Very little is different between the two, with the main difference being that Mike is now played again by A. Michael Baldwin.  The scenes were reshot and we pick up right after Reggie (Reggie Bannister) slams into the car window.  The hearse drives off and then it explodes.  Reggie races up and sees that Liz’s face is being eaten by one of the midget things.  Mike seems fine, and that’s when the Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) approaches.  Reggie threatens to blow himself and Mike to bits with a grenade and the Tall Man states that he wants Mike in one piece, so he lets them go for now.  We then switch to Mike in the hospital, and as he is unconscious he has some flashbacks.  He finally comes to, just in time to see the nurse trying to inject him with a strange mucus colored liquid.  After a little skirmish they escape and end up at Reggie’s new place.  While there, Jody (Bill Thornbury) appears and it turns out that he has been turned into one of the spheres, but he is trying to fight against the Tall Man, who appears and knocks out Reggie, “fries” the sphere that is Jody and takes away Mike.  Reggie comes to and takes off on the road to rescue Mike; with the help of the “fried” Jody sphere he finds some other help.  A kid named Tim (Kevin Connors) who is really good with a gun and a woman named Rocky (Gloria Lynne Henry) who is ex-military, but are they enough to finally bring down the Tall Man?

Every one of the past cast is even better this time around.  Angus still pulls off creepy extremely well, Reggie is still fucking hilarious and Bill Thornbury is still as mysterious as before.  Now the biggest change/surprise is that A. Michael Baldwin is back.  He was just okay in the first movie and (as we all know) he didn’t appear in the second.  So his second time around I wasn’t expecting very much, but he really did surprise me.  Now don’t get me wrong in thinking that he is now some phenomenal actor, but he does a really good job, plus he just seems to fit very naturally back into the cast and it feels like it’s a family again.  The two newcomers to the family are little Kevin Connors and Gloria Lynne Henry.  As I’ve stated before, I think that pretty much all child actors are just terrible and should probably be kept in cages until they reach about fourteen and Kevin Connors is really no exception.  He’s okay and he does his best to keep up with everyone else, but even at his best he still comes of very amateur or he’s just trying too hard to be a tough kid.  Again he’s okay, but against everyone else he’s just left behind and you really don’t care what happens to him.  Gloria Lynne Henry is a nice addition to the group though.  She is a very tough woman (which the Phantasm movies have always needed) and he really knows how to handle herself.  Her role seems to come very naturally to her, making it seem like you are actually watching her and not someone acting.

The effects in this movie are five steps above the last movie.  They are more refined this time around and they don’t feel very dated.  Now the spheres haven’t really been updated that much compared to the last movie, but they have added a whole lot more blood when they impale someone.  This time they show the huge stream of blood and they hold on it for a lot longer.  Speaking of staying on effects longer than before, there are a bunch of scenes where you get to see a whole lot more than before.   When the Tall Man is locked in the freezer and the Gold Sphere “exits” his head, you get to see the whole thing and it looks fucking cool as hell.  Now most of the time I like to think that your mind can create some pretty cool things so you don’t have to see everything, but when effects are pulled off as good as these, it’s worth it for your brain to take a break and let your eyes enjoy the sight.

Years ago when I first watched this movie I actually hated it.  It added some really strange things, too much comedy and started to go in a very different direction.  Now watching at a much older age I actually appreciate this one even more then I thought I would.  The way the story turns with this one, mainly that Jody is able to change from human to sphere and that the Tall Man has a fucking golden sphere in his head, adds a whole different layer to the complexity (hell, craziness) to the movie.  Another thing that bothered me about this one is that the main focus was on Reggie and not Mike.  The first two movies were about Mike and him trying to find his brother/battle the Tall Man, but Mike isn’t in this movie all that much.  Upon re-watching the movie it actually makes perfect sense with this direction, because they have finally found Jody and with a lot of the extra things we have learned about the Tall Man, it really works better that it’s Reggie that is now doing the hunting instead of Mike.  Another thing that just made this movie fun to watch is the extra amount of comedy tossed in.  Unlike a lot of horror movies that have the characters stating the joke, these jokes are more of the shooting a shotgun into a tree and three midget things fall out or catching one of the spheres with a plunger.  They are funny as hell, but they also seem to make logical sense during the scene.  The comedy doesn’t hurt the movie; it just adds another level of enjoyment to it.  Now to forewarn everyone, this is the Phantasm movie that answers a whole lot of questions that have been left up in the air, but you have to actually pay close attention to really catch everything that is answered.  This movie is probably the biggest surprise of the year for me considering how much I actually used to hate this one.  It’s really worth a check if you enjoyed the first two, just be prepared for something quite a bit different and a lot more humor.

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About The Drudgeon

I don't remember my real name or where I came from. All I know is that I'm traped in an underground cave with nothing but a TV, DVD player and a notebook and pen. They keep calling me The Drudgeon, I don't even know what that means. Someone keeps dropping horror movies in and yelling at me to watch them and write about what I watch. Then I eat the DVD and case, because they tell me if I consume the horror I will understand the horror. I think there are three of them. So if you are reading this right now, HELP ME!!!!!!! OUCH!!!! Someone just poked me with a sea urchin attacked to a pool cue, what the fuck is going on?
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