Phantasm III: Lord Of The Dead


Reviewed by: Gator MacReady

When we last saw Mike and Reggie, the Tall Man had cornered them on a lonely highway and seemed to have gained the upper hand. For some reason, he's interested in kidnapping Mike for his own evil purposes. Reg threatens to blow them all up unless the Tall Man backs off. He agrees, but threatens to strike again in the near future.

Badly concussed, Mike falls into a coma where he has a vision of his dead brother Jody telling him that he must choose to live in order for the Tall Man's cryptic game plan to work out. At that moment Mike wakes to find a demonic nurse about to drill a hole in his head and a sentinel sphere buzzing around in the hospital. Reg intervenes and saves him, but not without getting a mouthful of pus, and they hide out in his desert base where they can come up with a plan before the Tall Man strikes again.

But before you can say "Boooooooooooy!!!", he's back and spirits Mike away to another dimension, leaving Reg unconcious on the floor. Not knowing where he is, or what happened, Reg takes off across country with the burned-out sphere from the hospital as his only clue. It appears that the Tall Man has harvested the dead from dozens of towns across the Pacific Northwest, leaving entire counties to crumble. Reg teams up with a resourceful kid and an ex-army chick to find Mike and continue his hunt for the Tall Man. while dwarfs, sentinel spheres, gravediggers and zombies are all on their trail.

The following hokum will seem familiar, as it's almost exactly what happened in Phantasm II, so while it's certainly not original, I still found it to be loads of fun, as the pace just doesn't let up and new characters and locations keep intruding to keep things interesting. Writer/director Don Coscarelli answers some questions we've been literally dying to ask but there seems to be a conspiracy going on and the Tall Man is keeping his mouth shut. We know there's more story developing - that much is obvious - but good luck trying to figure it out.

The mystical, foreboding nature of Phantasm is a bit stronger here than it was in the first sequel. Unfortunately, so is the humour. The distinct lack of anything funny is what gave the original film such a weird edge and the series' increasing tendency to be an Evil Dead gorefest isn't entirely appropriate.

The gore is gruesome and plentiful but not exactly chilling. I don't feel that Coscarelli has found the perfect mix of action, sci-fi and horror with this third outing to best suit the series, but it is entertaining. It seems like he's pushing his luck just a little bit in trying to cram out another film without developing too many ideas. Unimaginative is certainly not a word you could use to describe the Phantasm franchise, but Lord Of The Dead does seem like a lot of recycled scenarios from Phantasm II.

On the plus side, A Michael Baldwin (the original actor) returns as Mike, so we now have the entire original cast back. Reg is just plain brilliant and while he may not be up to the wacky standards of Ash he's still a hoot to watch and seems to balance the serious and the jokey very well. But, as always, Angus Scrimm scores the most points as the Tall Man. He's cool, he's evil and his mysterious nature makes him all the more scary.

Unforgiving horror fans may not like this one very much, as it does follow the typical path of other franchises, but there's still enough energy and weirdness to keep Phantasm aficionados happy and it does move very fast.

All I'm going to say is that Coscarelli had better come up with some new and shocking ideas to keep Phantasm IV fresh.

Reviewed on: 27 Feb 2006
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The franchise becomes increasingly weird and bloody, with intriguing sci-fi bits.
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Director: Don Coscarelli

Writer: Don Coscarelli

Starring: Reggie Bannister, Angus Scrimm, A Michael Baldwin, Bill Thornbury, Gloria Lynne Henry, Kevin Connors

Year: 1994

Runtime: 91 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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The Phantasm 5 Disc Boxset