For the next 31 days, we here at Adamantium Bullet will be reviewing one horror flick a day leading up to Halloween. Each one will be horrific, terrifying, chilling, pulse-pounding, or flat-out awful. All endured in honor of the season. Expect SPOILERS. Welcome to Adamantium Bullet’s 31 DAYS OF HORROR.
PLOT: The mutant dwarf creatures are attacking, the silver spheres are flying, and The Tall Man is back with a vengeance! Fifteen years after the original horror classic, writer/producer/director Don Coscarelli reunites brothers Mike (A. Michael Baldwin) and Jody (Bill Thornbury) to help their friend Reggie (Reggie Bannister) destroy the dimension-hopping The Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) once and for all. Is the ultimate force of evil any match for a bald, former ice cream vendor with a ‘70 Hemicuda and a four-barrel shotgun?
BODY COUNT: 24 …but f*ck if we know. Certain characters in PHANTASM III: LORD OF THE DEAD are killed off, then resurrected, then are killed off again, resurrected again, and are killed off a third time. Yes, this is the nature of the PHANTASM phran-chise, what with The Tall Man bringing everyone back from the dead and turning them into Jawa/Minion/Dwarf things, but that doesn’t make this flick’s BODY COUNT any less confusing. So, that said, here’s the official count: The Tall Man is pumped full of hydrochloric acid in a recap of his demise at the end of PHANTASM II, Alchemy (Samantha Phillips) dies off-screen, Liz (Paula Irvine) is decapitated, Reggie (Reggie Bannister) smokes four Jawa/Minion/Dwarves using his four-barreled shotgun, and Mike (A. Michael Baldwin, returning to the role after James Le Gros took over in the previous installment) skewers the Demon Nurse (Irene Roseen) with a needle. Tim’s (Kevin Connors) dad dies off-screen, but comes back as a zombie and kills off his mom (Claire Benedek). Tanesha (Sarah Scott Davis) is the recipient of the now-standard PHANTASM Silver Sphere to the face. Tim shoots one of the Silver Sphere that killed Tanesha. Reggie takes down one of the Tall Man’s hands (don’t ask) with his shotgun, and Rocky (Gloria Lynne Henry) stabs the other before tossing it into a campfire. The Tall Man’s brain sphere (don’t ask) is frozen in cryo-slush which appears to kill it …but doesn’t because this is PHANTASM. Finally, Tim is presumably killed when a Jawa/Minion/Dwarf and grabs him …because this is PHANTASM.
Scavenger Zombie Punk Girl Edna (Cindy Ambuehl) dies three times: The first death is when Tim tosses a tomahawk into her skull, the second is Reggie blasts her in the chest with the four-barrel shotgun (Coscarelli and company really need to give that thing a name) which sends her sailing under a moving hearse, and the third time is when The Tall Man’s brain sphere flies straight through her head. Scavenger Zombie Punk Old Guy Henry (John Davis Chandler) dies three times as well: Once with a shot to the head by Tim, once in a car explosion, and finally with a kill shot delivered at point blank range by Reggie. Scavenger Zombie Punk Good Old Boy Rufus (Brooks Gardner) gets the three death treatment with a Frisbee lined with razors to the neck, a car explosion, and a particularly nasty bit where the Jody Sphere (don’t ask) drills into his head and spins it clean off.
MOST MEMORABLE KILL: The gold Tall Man brain sphere sailing right through the head of Scavenger Zombie Punk Girl Edna is one of the best kills in the PHANTASM phran-chise.
NAKEDNESS: Cleavage from Cindy Ambuehl and a brief bit of toplessness from Gloria Lynne Henry.
SIGNATURE MOMENT: As with all the PHANTASM films, there are a lot of SIGNATURE MOMENTS. Not wanting to narrow it down to just one, here are our personal favorites from PHANTASM III: The Tall Man stroking Michael’s brain sphere (don’t ask), the Eye-Sphere (or Eye-Ball …get it?), The Tall Man’s gold super-sphere, the return of Jody (Bill Thornbury), the Jody Sphere, Tim’s “R-rated HOME ALONE” House Of Horrors, the Razor Frisbee (haven’t seen one of those since HARD TICKET TO HAWAII), the new Hemi-Cuda, the pink hearse, Rocky using nunchucks to battle the Silver Sphere that killed her friend, the origin of the Jawa/Minion/Dwarves, and the Sphere Swarm.
IDIOT MOMENT: Considering the apocalypse is pretty much already underway at this point in the PHANTASM phran-chise, what good is paper money going to do? Wouldn’t the new currency be something like bullets, gas, or gold? Have I been misinformed by the MAD MAX films? Are we reading too much into this? Probably. Let’s move on.
“WTF?!?” MOMENT: This one goes to Reggie’s horrendous early 90s fashion sense (so much purple and flannel!) and the fact he still manages to be horndog even when facing insurmountable odds.
USELESS KNOWLEDGE: An alternate ending was filmed but not used: Reggie and Tim travel up to the wild regions of Alaska. Reggie digs a small hole in the ice and Tim places a little case (containing The Tall Man's gold sphere) inside. Subsequently, Reggie puts a metal plaque over the hole and seals it up. The plaque reads "Here Lies The Tall Man - R.I.P.". Reggie then says "Now, all we have to worry about is global warming" and they walk off.
> In this sequel, for the first and only time in the series, the main characters refer to the dwarves as "Lurkers", the gas masked grave diggers as "Gravers" and the spheres as "Sentinels".
> Apart from reprising his role as The Tall Man, Angus Scrimm also plays the part of the doctor who opens Mike's eye to check his pupil with a mini-torch in the opening sequence. The nurse next to him is played by Kathy Lester, who portrayed the "Lady in Lavender" in PHANTASM.
> After the mild box-office results of PHANTASM II, Universal Studios chose not to personally pursue a sequel but did offer to distribute it should Don Coscarelli and associates make it themselves. With no casting restrictions this time, Coscarelli offered the role of Mike to his original performer, A. Michael Baldwin, who returned to the role after almost 16 years.
> Don Coscarelli reportedly admitted during filming that he had run out of ideas after finishing the script for this sequel and had no clue which direction would the story take in case there was a fourth Phantasm movie. He jokingly added that if a PHANTASM IV was ever filmed, it would actually be "just to make money out of it".
> To reduce costs, the movie score was basically a reuse of the material composed by Fred Myrow and Christopher L. Stone for the previous sequel PHANTASM II. Apart from some minor changes and additions made to the existent tracks, only a few minutes of original music were written.
> This marked the first usage in the series of any digital effects. Though quite limited, these tools enabled the director to compress actor Bill Thornbury into a sphere and also to create an "event horizon" for the plane of the space gate.
> The USELESS KNOWLEDGE portion of this review was provided by IMDB.