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Phantasm III:

Lord of the Dead

Director: Don Coscarelli
Cast: Reggie Bannister, Gloria Lynne Henry, A. Michael Baldwin
Running time: 87 minutes
Rating: R

Story: After thinking they escaped the Tall Man once and for all, friends Mike and Reggie are split up when he reappears. Now Reggie must drive through town after town to find Mike and answers to what's going on. He teams up with a boy and an female marine to try and stop the Tall Man before he takes over everything.

Review: A decade after it's release, the original 'Phantasm' had earned a nice little following which is one of the major reasons a sequel happened in 1988. The other was that apparently one of the heads at Universal was a fan of the first film and so he championed the studio's distributing the film. Not that the first film was a monster hit, but it wasn't a disappointment either unlike this solid sequel, which didn't exactly set the world on fire. It also didn't help that it got mixed reviews from critics. But despite this, series creator Don Coscarelli was able to get a third installment off the ground, though belatedly. It would be six years before III would hit theatres, which it didn't stay in for very long.

It hit video shelves fairly quickly and after having had already seen the first two and loving them, of course I was thrilled about another installment. Before seeing it I'd read mostly negative reviews from viewers using words like "silly," "too campy," "cheesy," and many more. After seeing it for myself, I found that yes it is campy and has more humor than the other three films, but that have to be bad? In this reviewers worthless opinion not so. In fact this, so far anyway, is my favorite of the sequels.

One of the films strongest points is it's cast. Each member puts in lots of effort and does an excellent job. I will admit however that it may take a while to warm up to A. Michael Baldwin's more subdued portrayal of the character after James Le Gros. There was humor in the first two, and even the fourth, but it's even more present here and for the most part it works. The musical score is also quite good. In fact I'd go as far as sawing it's the best since the original's.

With a higher budget, more and bigger effects can be made. The ones in this film are better than good, they're impressive, which includes both the make-up and special effects. One thing that's both a bit of a flaw and not is that though this film isn't very scary, there are still things to give one the chills. The pace is quick all the way through. Since there's a lot of outdoor scenes, it gives the cinematographer to get some great shots of the Midwestern landscape. We get to see a little more in the Tall Man's scheme.

There's a few pretty exciting action sequences. One of the most notable is the car chase scene towards the end of the film. And finally, whereas two had a more polished look and feel and more linear narrative, III returns to the surreal, almost dreamlike quality of the original. In my book it's a welcome return. Negatively speaking there isn't much. The biggest flaw of course is that there are still some unanswered questions left, but then again what are sequels for? And then, like II, the film's final shot is a repeat of the original's last frame. Time for something different guys.

I don't understand the negative comments against this film. I mean sure it has more campy humor than before, but is that reason enough to hate the film and almost disown it? Too each his own, but to date this is my personal favorite of the sequels.

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