Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead (1994) – Don Coscarelli

The Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) returns to the screen for a third time in the second sequel to the 1977 cult phenomenon, Phantasm. The film not only gives viewers a quick recap, it runs us right up to the cliffhanger conclusion of the second film, and then welcomes A. Micheal Baldwin back to the role of Mike, while Reggie Bannister reprises his character of Reggie once again.

Following the car crash that ended the second film, Reggie drives off the Tall Man, while Mike lapses into a coma, that apparently lasts two years. While under he has visions of his dead brother, Jody (Bill Thornbury) who warns him to stay away from the light (the usual tunnel that has been reported when you die) because lurking there is the Tall Man.

When Mike awakes he learns the secret of the silver spheres, they contain the brains of the compressed corpses that the Tall Man sends to be slave labour. And the one that houses Jody has found him, and provides some insight and guidance through the adventure.

At least until the Tall Man captures Mike, intent on indoctrinating him to serve him, and hints that he has some psychic powers that will be of use, though that comes to nought in this entry.

So Reggie sets off in pursuit of Mike, he’s joined by a young boy, Tim (Kevin Connors), who is like Home Alone’s Kevin with a homicidal edge, and Rocky (Gloria Lynne Henry), a soldier who has had her whole town, and life destroyed by the Tall Man, and his minions.

The chase leads them to a Gothic mausoleum where they have a confrontation with the Tall Man, that delivers another cliffhanger ending, and we’re left to wonder how many years will play out before we learn what happened this time.

I love the mythology of this film series, I love how Coscarelli ensures that it has the logic of a dream, though, again, this story is fairly linear when compared to the first film. And once again we are delivered some world-building as things about the Sentinels and Lurkers are revealed.

It was great to have the actors from the original film all together again, and joined by some new characters set amidst some familiar trappings. I mean we always seem to end up in a mausoleum. There’s gore, there’s silver spheres, there’s Reggie’s libido, and there’s the intimidating Tall Man.

Such an enjoyable, low-budget horror series. I love revisiting these titles. The music, the pacing, the dialogue, all of it just entertains me so much, and I love how Coscarelli does that for me each and every time, no matter the film.

Next time, we have a look at Phantasm IV: Oblivion!

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