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It's a Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad Movie

Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead (1994)

[3.5 turkeys]

Ok, this series just took a turn for the worse, which of course means it's better for those of us who love bad movies! It seems natural that as a horror series progresses, it eventually turns more and more to comedy, and this series is no exception. There were a few comedy bits in the second movie, but this third installment takes things to a new level, all while still trying to stay "serious." Which of course makes for some great bad movie moments.

We open in the traditional manner for Phantasm sequels: with a recap of the preceding movies. As you may remember, the second movie ended with the Tall Man driving away in a hearse that contained Reggie, Mike, and Liz. Well, it is revealed that after Reggie was thrown from the hearse, the car went around the corner and inexplicably exploded. Reggie runs up to find Mike was thrown free of the car and is unconscious but alive. Liz, however, did not fare so well, as Reggie finds a dwarf munching on her face. Poor Liz. Either they couldn't get the actress back to do the third movie or they just didn't give a crap about her character anymore. Reg picks up a big stick and taunts the dwarf, but then when he gets the dwarf's attention, he drops the stick and runs like a coward. However, he gets his courage back when he finds his old four-barrel shotgun next to Mike. "Oh, here it is," he says, or something to that effect. This is made all the funnier if you remember that in the second movie, Reggie dumped the gun back at the mausoleum, so having the gun be there is completely inexplicable.

Reggie blows away the dwarf, then notices that there are a bunch of dwarfs hiding up in the trees surrounding the road. Reggie blasts up into the trees, and in the first of many bad-movie comedy moments, the dwarfs fall from the trees one by one like dead birds. Priceless.

The Tall Man comes upon Mike and Reggie while Reggie is trying to get Mike to his feet, and Reggie pulls out a grenade and threatens to blow them all up. "I don't want him in pieces," says the Tall Man cryptically. "Well, that's the only way you're going to get him," Reggie says. "Then I wait," the Tall Man says and walks away. Huh? The Tall Man is always doing that -- just when it looks like he's won, he turns and walks and lets everyone get away. I don't get it.

Mike goes to the hospital, and it turns out we've got the original Mike back from the first Phantasm movie. Thankfully, he's not the annoying little girl he was back then; now he's just an annoying girly-man. Mike gets attacked by the Tall Man's minions in the hospital, and Reg comes to his rescue. Reg takes Mike back to his house, and we see that the Hemicuda is back too! YAY!!!!!! Actually, this might be a different car, as this is a convertible, and the other Hemi wasn't -- but it's a Hemicuda nonetheless, so that makes me feel better right off. It just wouldn't be a Phantasm movie without the Hemi, after all.

They get to Mike's house, and another startling revelation is made. Jody is back! Yes, Mike's dead brother from the first movie is back, but now he's a ball. But he's a good ball, as he tries to help Mike. However, the Tall Man has tracked Jody here, and he chars Jody-ball, throws Reg against a wall, and makes off with Mike. Reg wakes up in the morning to find the charred Jody-ball and a big burn mark in his hallway where the Tall Man apparently took Mike away. So it's back in the Hemi for a road trip to try to find his buddy.

His first stop is another deserted town, where he meets up with a hot chick who tries to kill him. Then these two demented guys whack him in the head with a bat, stuff him in the back of the 'cuda, and take off with the Hemi and a pink hearse. They inexplicably take Reggie to some abandoned house, where they meet up with a psycho little chubby kid. The kid has booby-trapped the house, and he ends up killing the bad guys with a variety of weapons that include a tomahawk, a frisbee with a bunch of blades sticking out the side, and a pit dug in the front lawn. After dispatching the bad guys, the kid goes to check out the sweet muscle car parked in his yard. Reggie yells from the trunk, and the ever-cautious kid asks, "How do I know you're not one of them?" "Because I'm in here!" Reggie shouts, and the kid sees the logic and lets him out.

Reggie spends the night with the kid and listens to his tale of woe. Turns out the kid's family was offed by the Tall Man, and he's been holed up here fighting off scavengers ever since. In the morning, Reggie and Tim find that the graves they put the three scavengers in are empty and the pink hearse is gone. Now, I think even if I were dead, I'd still choose the Hemicuda over a pink hearse if I had a choice of wheels. Oh well.

Reggie and Tim take off and continue their search for Mike. They come to another mausoleum, so Reggie checks it out. There's a ball inside, but Reggie cunningly thwarts it by opening a door. Apparently, the balls get dizzy when they bounce off a door, because this one rolls around on the ground drunkenly for a while. Meanwhile, these two militant black babes show up and handcuff Reggie. Reggie tries to tell them about the ball, but it's too late -- one of them (unfortunately, it's the hot one) gets her head drilled by the ball. Again Reggie tries to warn the remaining woman, but she doesn't listen to him and unwisely plucks the ball from her friend's forehead. The ball immediately flies away down the hall and circles back for another attack run.

Now here's where things get really goofy. The remaining woman pulls out a pair of nunchucks and faces off against the ball! The ball comes flying at her, and she whacks it with the nunchucks. The ball swerves around drunkenly a bit but quickly regains its composure and starts flying at the woman again, who now faces off against it with her bare hands, since her nunchucks were broken in the last pass. Thankfully, the little psycho kid shows up in the nick of time and blows the ball away with his revolver.

So Reggie, Tim, and Rocky eventually team up to find the Tall Man. While camping on the side of the road one night, the Jody-ball (which Reggie has been carrying around with him) flies over to Reggie while he's sleeping. Apparently, Reggie is dreaming about making out with Rocky, and Jody shows up in his dream. Jody reluctantly pulls Reggie away from his dream babe by telling him he has to come with him if he wants to save Mike. So the two of them end up in a mausoleum where they see the Tall Man talking to Mike. Then the Tall Man leaves, and Jody and Reg free Mike and start to run away. The Tall Man chases them, but they dive through the portal back to the camp site.

Reggie now has to close the portal like he did in the first movie, but the Tall Man's hands are sticking out of the portal when it is closed, and they fall off onto the ground. In another classic bad movie scene, the hands take on a life of their own and start running around attacking everyone! First, it attacks Reggie's head, then tries to go up his nose. Then after they kill that hand, the other hand crawls up Reggie's pants, where Rocky stabs it with her knife, coming dangerously close to neutering poor Reggie in the process.

Now that Mike is back with them again, everyone decides to take off. But then the dead freaks in the pink hearse show up again! Here we go again with the stupid Hemicuda/hearse chase scene. I just don't understand why Reggie doesn't just tromp down on the gas and leave these dead freaks in the dust. It's not like his 'cuda can't go approximately twice as fast as that stupid hearse.

They instead have a gun battle with the hearse drivers, which ends finally with the hearse hitting a rock and flipping over and blowing up. Sheesh, how many times in this series has a chase ended that way? At least once in every movie, by my count. Unfortunately, the Hemi blew its tires in the chase, so now they have to walk to where they're going. Thankfully, the largest mausoleum in the U.S. is right up ahead, so they figure they'll hole up there, since it's the last place the Tall Man would look for them. Right.

Inside the mortuary, they find a cryogenics chamber. Mike has a flashback to the first movie, in which the Tall Man walked by Reggie's open ice cream truck. (Did I forget to mention that before Reggie had a hot car and got all the chicks, he used to be a freakin' ice cream man?) Now, my recollection of that scene from the first movie is that the Tall Man stopped and seemed to enjoy the cold air coming from the truck. However in this movie they twist things around a bit, and Mike informs everyone that the Tall Man doesn't like the cold.

So they all crash in the mortuary. Tim and Rocky cook dinner in the crematorium, and Mike goes and sleeps in the embalming room with Jody-ball on his forehead. Jody-ball shows Mike in another "dream" that the Tall Man takes dead people, compacts their bodies down to make the dwarfs, but amputates their brains and puts them inside the spheres. There turn out to be thousands of spheres.

Reggie is out sleeping on what looks like an altar, and he wakes up to what he thinks is Rocky having some fun with him. It turns out to be the dead woman from the hearse, though. I just don't get how people continually survive these towering infernos in these movies. I mean, sure, these people were already dead, but they're not even a little crispy after being in a huge flaming hearse wreck. Sheesh.

Rocky and Tim come running to Reggie's rescue, and we get some very humorous fight scenes with Rocky using her nunchucks against the dead guys. In one rather humorous scene, Reggie keeps getting nailed by one or the other of the two women as they fight over him.

Meanwhile, the Tall Man is doing some brain surgery on Mike. Before he starts drilling his head, he says "Welcome home, boy. You found your way back to where you started." Ah. So what happened was Jody went through all that trouble to set up a dream sequence so that Reggie could save Mike, only to have the two of them stupidly blunder right back to where the Tall Man was anyway. Nice.

After defeating the pink hearse zombies with the help of Jody-ball, Reggie, Tim, and Rocky go back to find the Tall Man cutting open Mike's head. Rocky takes a long crematorium poker, dips it in the handy vat of liquid nitrogen, and chucks it at the Tall Man. Then she and Reggie rush the Tall Man and force him into the huge walk-in freezer that is also conveniently there. The Tall Man jerks around a bit, then sort of dies or something. But it's a fleeting victory, as soon a big gold sphere bursts out of the Tall Man's head and flies through the window of the freezer door and starts chasing Tim down the hall.

So everyone runs around like idiots again, until Reggie finally finds the ultimate weapon. A toilet plunger! He actually catches the sphere with the plunger, then, in a wondrously bad scene, Reggie, Rocky, and Tim wrestle the mad plunger into the vat of liquid nitrogen and freeze it to death.

However, all is not well. Mike sees that when the Tall Man drilled into his head, what came out was that yellow embalming fluid crap instead of blood! Furthermore, he has a ball in his head! So he runs away, and Reggie tries to run after him. But Jody appears again tells Reggie, "Don't believe everything you see." Then he leaves too. Nice. What the heck was that all about?

Rocky decides she's had enough zombie killing, so she takes off in a hearse. Reggie and Tim decide to go back into the mausoleum to look for "clues" as to why Mike is suddenly a big freak. Unfortunately, what they find is the cryo vat tipped over and a completely ressurected Tall Man! Reggie gets pinned to the wall by about twenty of the spheres, and he says to Tim, "Get out of here, it's over!"

"It's never over!" the Tall Man says. The End. Yes, "The End!" The Tall Man wins AGAIN. That's Tall Man 3, Reggie and Mike 0! Not only does he win, but this installment of the series raises more questions that it answers. What the heck is up with Mike? Is Reggie finally going to die? Why the heck can nothing seem to even begin to hurt the Tall Man? Tune into our next exciting episode to find out!

Scene to watch for: The catfight.

Best line: "I'm kind of busy here, Jody."

Things that make you go "Huh?": He wins AGAIN?

View this movie's entry at the Internet Movie Database.

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