Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead (1994) – By Brian Morton

 Few, if any, cult movies have a long life. Usually, it’s a one off movie and, if there’s a sequel, some other people do it and it ruins what might have been a once promising franchise. Well, that’s just one more thing that’s great about the Phantasm series! Not only do the original cast return again and again, but also the original writer/director Don Coscarelli returns to keep telling the story of Reggie, Mike and their battle against the Tall Man. It’s truly an anomaly in film, and one that I hope keeps going.

This second sequel finds Reggie and Mike still running/battling the Tall Man, and, when Mike is captured by their vertically challenged adversary, it’s up to Reggie to find the Tall Man’s current base of operations, save Mike and, hopefully, take down the villainous mortician once and for all. What Reggie finds is that the Tall Man is cutting a swath of destruction across the country, moving from one small town to the next, emptying it of it’s populace, turning them into the evil dwarves and then moving to the next town. Reggie comes across Tim, another boy who’s parents have been killed by the Tall Man and Rocky, a girl just out of the army who’s also wondering what happened to her town, both join Reggie on his quest. One of the best sequences in the movie involves young Tim, played by Kevin Connors, who is defending his house from three thugs who are ransacking the towns the Tall Man has left empty in his wake. The sequence is what Mr. Coscarelli describes as "Home Alone on steroids", and it certainly deserves that description.

Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead adds to the mythos of the story without winding it up with any finality. In fact, at the end, it’s left open to the point that I’m going to have to run out and rent Phantasm 4: Oblivion before I drive myself to distraction wondering what happens next. And, although I’m sure it’s a good movie too, I know that Coscarelli and company are discussing the next installment of the Tall Man saga, so I’m sure that even the most current sequel is left open. Anchor Bay has just released a new version of Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead and it’s well worth the price. Besides a great transfer of the movie, there are behind the scenes shots, the trailers for it and other Coscarelli films and other features that are well worth the price of admission. If you’re a Phan, you can grab your own copy by heading over to Anchor Bay’s web site to get your own copy. I’m giving Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead 3 1/2 out of four cigars, because, while it leaves you wanting more, the effects are very good and the story is great! I’m hoping the Don Coscarelli takes some time away from his newest movie to write and direct another in this great series! So, until next time, when we’ll toss around the old silver sphere…the person who gets it in the head first loses…remember that the best movies are bad movies.