Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead

   Woah! Why is this movie so divisive? It looks like the Phanbase is split down the middle on this one, and it's the movie's sense of humor that seems to be the deciding factor. I honestly didn't give a shit about the humor. It didn't make or break the movie for me, I just got to laugh a few extra times than normal. Moreover, lets be honest. This franchise was never all that scary to begin with. The first one was like an R rated Goosebumps book (I say that as absolute praise) and the series never really departed from that- but it does get crazier! Lord of the Dead is proof enough.

   I had thought that a four-barreled shotgun and a makeshift flamethrower was the height of crazy for this series (apart from... y'know, the concept of an interdimensional alien stealing human corpses and midgetizing them to use as a slave labor force on another planet. Yeah.) but this one had some new tricks up its sleeve. It could've been very easy for these movies to slip into a basic repetitiveness, not doing much new, and fans probably still would've eaten it up- but Phantasm III shows us a lot of new things. Does this mean it's a good movie? Well... nah? Not really. But it sure is fun!

   Coscarelli goes wild with the sentinel spheres, using them in all kinds of new and creative ways, as well as explaining some new details about them and the midget minions. Even more interesting, is the return of Jody, Mike's presumably dead brother who was last seen in the first flick. Coscarelli even got A. Michael Baldwin and Bill Thornbury to reprise their roles as Mike and Jody, respectively. I can imagine this was a big draw for fans, and admittedly it was pretty neat. However, Mike and Jody get very little screentime, and most of the movie is spent hanging out Reggie and his two new sidekicks, a sharpshooting kid named Tim, and a nunchuck-wielding chick named Rocky. The two are fun to watch, and end up adding to the bizarre nature of the movie.

   Which is, in turn, a welcome return to form of the first movie. Phantasm III feels like a wacky dream, with left field plot twists, ridiculous supporting characters, and dialog that no human would ever actually say for real. Yet, Reggie's salt-of-the-Earth approach to everything from zombies to flying death spheres is what keeps the movies somewhat grounded. If there's a crazy thing they need to do, he's not going to contemplate it for five minutes- he just says, well lets go do the thing. He loads his quad-shotgun and starts kicking down doors. Basically, Reggie is the man. He definitely needs to team up with Ash Williams.

   Really, either you're down with the franchise by this point- or you're not. Weird, middling quality, low budget, zany nonsense. Phantasm III is full of wild sights, cool looking special effects, wacky characters, and plenty of gory action. It also furthers the world building and the main story better than II did, so there's also that. Unfortunately, it ends with more questions than it answered so be prepared to have IV around to watch as well. I'll probably pop it in later, but right now I just need to wrap my head around those damn spheres! Love this ridiculous mess of a movie. Bring on the next one!

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