Phantasm III Lord of the dead (1994)
"Little brother, I can't stop him but maybe I can slow him down..."
PLOT - Taking place just moments after part II ended, Reggie helplessly watches as the hearse with Michael and Liz trapped inside crashes down the road. Running to the burning wreck, he finds Liz dead, but Michael thrown from the crash and badly hurt. Barley escaping the Tall Man yet again, who simply tells Reggie he'll wait for them, he flees bringing Michael to a hospital where he slips into a coma. Years pass with no change when finally Michael awakes only to be thrown instantly into the strange and very dangerous world of flying killer spheres and The Tall Man who has his own agenda for him.
LOWDOWN - In the past I've reviewed the original Phantasm, and Phantasm II after the stunning blu-ray release from Scream Factory. Well, the the AMAZING news last week of Phantasm V, I've been having my own little movie marathon re-watching these classic films that I have very much loved for years now.
Without re-hashing my love for the Phantasm series like I've done before, I'll simply put that if I had to pick any horror film series I enjoy the most to re-watch, or feels the most epic I would have to go with the Phantasm films. I had fond memories renting Phantasm II, and then in 2008 finally getting around to watching the original along with the two other sequels. Right away I became a huge fan of the series, re-watching them over and over and over again. I became a total nerd and made up my own theories of what the films meant, joined the message boards, picked scenes of the films apart in class, and even did projects on them. Having only just met A. Micheal Baldwin from the films, I still count myself a pretty big fan and geek out whenever I have the chance to show someone these movies. Don Coscarelli created a strange and wonderful world that is still just as popular as when it was released back in the 70's. In fact just this past year I was lucky enough to watch an original print of it on my 25th birthday! I could go on and on for hours about why I love these movies. The score, the actors, the Cuda, the spheres, the tall man, and the surreal roller coaster of a ride you take when you watch them. But today, we're going to focus on part III.
Many have said this is the weakest in the series. Sadly for the most part I have to agree. Nothing of course beats the classic 70's of the original. Then the big budget Sam Raimi like action packed punch the sequel part II gave. Still, my biggest problem with part II was how the studio forced Coscarelli to re-cast one of the lead actors since both really hadn't been working for years since the original. Of course it would be easier to re-cast the character of Mike since the sequel takes place almost 10 years later after the first. Still, Coscarelli tried and even had A. Michael Badlwin even read for the part before loosing out to a pretty boy actor who even beat Brad Pitt who was reading for the same exact part! I still claim today part II would have been the perfect film had Baldwin been cast as Mike.
After part II Conscarelli decided to say fuck the studio and make his own movie when he returned for part III. This time he made the ever clever choice in bringing back Baldwin which was a huge reason why I loved part III. In fact I've gone on and on about this before, but a scene I love from this movie is the opening when part II and III are edited so closely and flawlessly together it looks as if Baldwin never left. Love the shot of him in the back of the hearse in the same clothes that the Mike character had from part 2.
Conscarelli decided to also ditch the Liz character, a love interest for Mike they shoved down our throats. Call it heartless but I liked how they took care of business, almost cleaning house and sweeping away at mess part II left behind. Right off the bat the action picks up in part III and you gotta love when Reggie holds the grenade up and tells the Tall Man "10 seconds to hell goddamn you."
This movie packs a lot of action but it sorta feels like a much better Full Moon movie with a bigger budget. This time around we get ghouls, more yellow liquid (that always finds itself in Reggie's mouth), plenty of gross out scenes, grave diggers, monsters, and even bigger effects. The audience gets to see more sphere action and how exactly these things tick. Also we get zombie creatures to the extreme. Is it a little silly and over the top?
The 3 thief zombies got a little annoying very fast and seemed to be our main monsters. The Tall man really doesn't get that much time to shine, and sorta stands back letting his zombies and ghouls take the spotlight. This goes the same with the character of Mike. In the first one it was the story of Mike, Jody, and Reggie. In part II it was Mike and Reggie...in part III it was pretty much the Reggie show. The character of Mike is sadly missing for 89% of the movie having been kidnapped by the tall man. This was a positive and negative. Still, the scenes between the Tall Man and Mike felt the most real. These are truly the two doing battle as much as I love the Reggie character.
A great addition was of the little boy Timmy. Sure lots of people found him annoying, most of all with his Home Alone farm house (same farm house as Warlock by the way.) I found a few moments of him laughable, but overall liked him sorta filling the empty void the Mike character left. Also if you notice Timmy is dressed almost exactly as Mike from the original, and shoots and crashes out the back window of a hearse like Mike did in part 1. Also with the ending shot with him? Remind you of something?
The spheres seemed to take a bit of a back seat in this movie from part II but we get to see one awesome drill kill, and a look into how they work. I loved the return of the character of Jody after missing in part II and how we learn he's been turned into one of them. The shots of the spheres are truly stunning, and there's one nasty death where a zombie get's one shot right through their face! Also who would have known...the tall man has a golden sphere in his head. Hum, go figure!
Speaking of which, liked the reveal with the Mike character. Love the shot of him seeing the yellow blood and checking himself in the mirror. Safe to say I'm a huge fan of this scene...
The one add on I HATED was the character of Rocky. Yes we get it, Reggie loves to get laid but really? Everything about her was annoying, her man hair cut, her army pants, her numb chucks. God, I could go on for hours...
Also really could have gone without seeing her topless...yeah thanks...
I would have rather watched Reggie try to track down Mike with Tim alone. Sorry Rocky, but I was real happy you split at the end of this movie.
The big show down at the end was great. Loved the shot of Mike looking up at the ceiling with all the spheres and trying to tell Tim to tell Reggie there are millions of them. Like the connection between Tim and Reggie (loved the scene where Tim finds the photograph of Reggie's wife and daughter in his bag, at least that made an emotional connection.)
Loved everything with Jody and Mike (how creepy where those sphere contacts?!) left very open ended after a very action packed ending that leads into the wonderful part VI. So stay tuned guys for my review for that one.
Over all Phantasm III is a fun movie with lots of cool gore and action. The biggest plus is having Baldwin back, and how creepy things remind us of the original. Is it the best in the series?
But is it a great Phantasm movie?
So keep your balls up in the air for part 4!