Film Reviews:

Phantasm III

aka Phantasm III: Lord of The Dead

(Don Coscarelli, US, 1991)

Opening with a quick resume of parts I and II, this third entry into the Phantasm canon, like its predecessor, begins exactly where the last film left off. This time, however, Mike Baldwin returns to reprise the role of Mike - one he began twelve years previously. Humour is quickly introduced, further separating this entry from the first film. Mike's dead brother reappears as do the empty roads and explosions suggesting that Coscarelli, who also directed the first two entries, was by now running out of original ideas and relying upon a tried and tested formula instead. Coscarelli continues with his own particular brand of illogic having, for no explicable reason, Mike's dead brother Joey visit like a guardian angel. Coscarelli is content to simply use a gag to explain this supernatural event when Reggie asks: "Joey, what the hell are you doing here? You're dead!" he blithely replies "What else is new?"

Joey also has the ability to morph into one of the Tall Man's flying spheres, and for the first time, we get to see inside the deadly ball, which (in the way of all sequels) have multiplied many times over the first film. We discover that the sphere's are in fact flying vehicles for the shrunken brains the Tall Man has created from the bodies he dispatches as slave labour. Watching the first three films in a short period of time now, the contiunity of style and content by having the same director on each film and broadly the same cast, makes the saga feel like a subversive TV mini-series. It is easy to forget that twelve years spans the trilogy particularly when its two older leads, Reggie Bannister as Reggie the ice cream vendor and Angus Scrimm as the Tall Man, hardly appear to have aged at all. The asset of having the original actor return to the role of Mike is wasted by having him play a relatively minor role in the plot. Instead Reggie teams us with a kick ass black woman who says things like "Yo bitch, hands off my boy" - she also brings her young boy along you see. In spite of all the familiar trappings, this is closer to the comedy horror of Return of The Living Dead than the original Phantasm. Little kids being wise to zombies is neither my idea of horror or entertainment. Wandering aimlessly into a completely unsatisfying ending, this weak effort is a wasted opportunity.

Digital Entertainment DVD (Region 2)

Phantasm Box Set Region 2 DVD Forming the final part of Digital Entertainment's Phantasm trilogy box set (ignoring as these things do that there is also a fourth entry into the series), this has far less added value than the first two DVDs in the set but obsessive Phantasm phreaks will find some brief diversions in the limited extras comprising the US theatrical trailer, a small photo library of ten stills and a deleted scene (not 'scenes' as the sleeve says) that features Mike attacking The Tall Man with a fire extinguisher in the mortuary. Only the main menu is animated. Again, no subtitles and again compression artifacts undermine the format.

Rob Dyer

See also:


Phantasm II

A-Z of Film Reviews