Friday, December 10, 2010

Film #48: Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead (1994)

Kevin McCallister is soooooo cute!
Remember that time in Home Alone 2 when the little left-behind tyke covered an escape ladder with grease, and when the robber tried to climb it he fell-down-go-boom!

You just gotta love Kevin's traps. Then there was that time he put razor blades on a Frisbee, and when then threw it at the burglar he decapitated the guy’s still talking head?!
Hahaha…eehhhhh, wait a minute.
That last one wasn’t Home Alone. Our mistake. We confused that loveable blonde haired, John Hughes-loving Kevin for 11-year-old Tim, also a burglar torturing tyke, who is featured in this week's film “Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead.”


This epic adventure in ineptitude begins exactly where the last Phantasm left off. Ice cream man turned vigilante Reggie is nervously awaiting the recovery of friend and alien killing partner, Mike, who was injured while doing battle with the infamous Tall Man.
In Phantasm 2, Reggie and Mike scoured the western countryside trying to destroy The Tall Man, a giant corpse stealing alien who was wreaking havoc on small towns by raiding their cemeteries and turning the dead into a mutant army bent on taking over the entire dimension!

Just as Mike wakes up from his Part 2 battle induced coma at the start of Phantasm 3, he is stolen away by The Tall Man. But Reggie isn’t left completely alone. Seems Mike’s brother Jody, who was murdered and mutated by The Tall Man in the the first Phantasm, has been transformed into one of those pesky kill balls The Tall Man likes to play (murder) with. Ball Jody tells Reggie to head to a nearby small town, which has recently been destroyed by the Tall Man’s army.

Following the balls order, Reggie arrives in the town but is captured by Russian looking thieves (wasn’t the cold war over by 1994?), who then proceed to raid a nearby house. Bad mistake… for lurking behind those walls is that Home Alone rip off Tim, who has booby-trapped the house with various burglar kill devices.
What his traps down kill, Tim's tomahawk and six shooter does.

Seems Tim’s parents were murdered along with the rest of the townspeople during the Tall Man’s tirade. Reggie doesn’t have to do much talking to convince Tim to help him find Mike and banish The Tall Man to alien-hell once and for all.
Along the way they meet sassy and sexy Roxy, a soul sister that packs num-chucks, sports a fade Grace Jones cut, and specializes in breaking balls -- especially the Tall Man’s.

The motley crew of Roxy, Reggie and Tim join forces to take on the one thing that connects them all, hatred for The Tall Man.
But can they battle the absurdity of the plot to recapture Mike and save our entire dimension? Try and find out, in the mind-numbing 1994 adventure, Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead.

RDHP Ratings and Review

C-Rating 1.0
Chris Dimick ponytails:
For three movies now Nick and I have been subjecting ourselves to the wondrous hell that is viewing a Phantasm movie out of pure hope that we’ll finally get some solid plot answers concerning these 5 W’s:

Who is The Tall Man?
Why does he steal corpses?
What are those flying silver kill balls?
Where do Tall Man's midget minion killers come from?
When will we get to stop watching Phantasm movies?

Following the first nonsensical, pointless, so-bad-its-kinda-good-but-mostly-bad Phantasm viewing, Nick wanted to quit this much hyped 80s/90s series. But I was determined that the sequels would hold answers to all of our Phantasmy questions, and finally explain just what the hell is going on in these film.

Phantasm II came and went, and we were still confused. Nick was hell bent on never watching another Phantasm movie, angry he had been coerced into watching a second round of crap. A full bottle of ether and some quick frontal lobe surgery later, and Nick finally relented to allow Phantasm III to be placed on the RDHP calendar.

AND GOOD THING WE DID WATCH, EH, NICK! Otherwise we wouldn’t now have the copious answers to Phantasm questions that have caused both of us to lay awake, soaked in sweat and urine, pining for an explanation regarding the ridiculousness we had endured for two movies.

Sure, like a Season 6 Lost episode, Phantasm III served up just as many questions as answers. But we’ll take what we can get at this point.

Readers, I feel it is my duty as a kind hearted individual to list the all the plot answers to the above 5 W’s. This will be done so no other human will again have to watch the Phantasm series just to learn what the hell is going on in the plot.
Q: Who is the Tall Man?
A: He is an alien overlord from another dimension bent on taking over not just earth, but this entire dimension, one small town at a time.

Q: Why does he steal corpses?
A: The Tall Man works/holes up in mortuaries in order to steal dead bodies and shrink them down into mindless alien/human hybrid creatures that will serve as his helpers in taking over the dimension.

Q: What are those flying, silver kill balls?
A: During his conversion of the dead bodies, the Tall Man takes out a large section of the victim's brain and inserts it into the flying silver kill balls. These balls are programmed to kill, but can have a "mind" of their own – ie. “Jody” ball overcoming The Tall Man’s mind control and siding with Reggie and his Tall Man hunting clan.

Q:Where do Tall Man's midget minion killers come from?
A: Answered above, they are former human corpses transformed into a Tall Man army bent on taking over the dimension.

Q: When will we get to stop watching Phantasm movies?
A: One would think that with these Five Phantasm W’s answered, Nick and I would just quit our Phantasm voyage.
But alas, there is only one Phantasm movie left – 1998’s Phantasm IV: Oblivion. We’ve come this far, melted our minds this much, and I feel we just HAVE to finish out the series. After all, like the final line in Part III says, "Seeing is easy, but understanding takes time."

Sure, Nick and I didn’t expect Phantasm to become the horror franchise of the RDHP. But become it, it has. Expect to see Part IV screened in a few weeks, folks. Understanding takes time, after all, and Part 3 didn't wrap up all those loose ends. Don’t fight it Nick, embrace it. Embrace those silver balls!”

N-Rating: 0.4
Nick Rich ponytails:
"As Chris mentioned, I didn't want to watch Phantasm III (and for the record I really don't want to watch part IV), but fate (and Chris's morbid fascination with 'answers') apparently had something different in mind for me. Well, you know what good ol' Uncle Ben says, "with great power comes great responsibility" and because of the awesome responsibility that is the RDHP I guess watching this horror series has become a part of my lot in life... I hope you appreciate the sacrifice dear reader!

To give you an idea of how underwhelmed I was with Phantasm III I'll tell you a little story...

There once was a boy named Nick who, along with his friend Chris, both came up with an idea to take their love of horror movies to a new level and embark on a trip through time by watching one film per year of horror film history. This journey was thrilling, horrifying, and at times arduous, but much like painting the fence and waxing old cars had done for Daniel-san in the Karate Kid, the RDHP had instilled in Nick writing reflexes and discipline he had yet to dream of. A discipline that had yet to fail our brave hero in 47 films (that's nary a year's worth of viewings for those counting)... a discipline that Phantasm III nearly vanquished! You see, where film after film had been felled to Nick's awesome blogging power, Phantasm III was so lackluster that he very nearly forgot to add his additions to the RDHP - dun, dun, DUNNNNN!

It's ok. Take a moment to soak in the horror of that situation... terrifying isn't it?

Historically, Thursday evening or Friday morning are typically when our handsome protagonist tends to 'pen' his portion of the blog. This Thursday evening Nick's wife wasn't feeling well, so she retired to bed quite early, leaving Nick to an evening of solitude to do whatever he wished... so naturally he watched a horror film. After a relaxing viewing of John Landis's An American Werewolf in London it was nearly morning in it's own right, so Nick headed to bed so he might be refreshed for the next day's work. After he was finished with his daily reading from the Bible (good for the soul) his last stop before bed was to employ good dental hygiene (good for the wallet). As he dutifully swished his mouthwash, Nick froze in horror as he realized he had yet to write the blog or retire early to bed so as to get a decent night's sleep in preparation of a Friday morning writing session. The burning sensation in his gums (Nick had kept his mouthwash in his mouth too long, such was his state of shock) snapped Nick back to reality.

The burning slowly ceased and a gentle resignation settled over him... he would have to rise too early to battle this ghastly menace in a few short hours... if only he could spit out Phantasm III.

So gentle readers, there you have it - the story of how Phantasm III nearly destroyed the hard-fought discipline of the deadline minded, newspapermen at heart RDHP. A truly chilling story to be sure!

Note: It's been said that animals can sense when their master is happy or sad and respond accordingly (especially when their master is despondent). Typically as I blog one of my two cats will nestle up on my lap to keep me company as I assault the keyboard, but for my Phantasm III writing my feline friends could sense something was amiss so they both decided my lap needed attention (a rare treat to be sure). Exhibit A:

You may have noticed I didn't actually mention anything about Phantam III... and that was intentional. To speak of it beyond its title would give it much more power than it deserves, and Phantasm III has already taken too much from me... and nearly destroyed my relationship with the RDHP (and subsequently Chris) in the process. Maybe I should thank you Phantasm III for almost causing me to miss writing the blog; it saved me from having to write about you.

The Skinny: If you're thinking of checking this flick out because you love bad movies and want to experience the horror of this one - don't! ...Just don't. I say this with the same sincerity a former teen-mom has during the abstinence talk with her blossoming daughter... just don't."

Things We Learned From Phantasm III:
-Num-chucks are underrated weapons.
-It is totally cool to let a kid drive your Hemi-GTO, but only if you owe him "two."
-Unlucky in love Reggie "hopes that ball has a better sense of direction than mine do."
-The largest gothic mausoleum in America is located in a small Idaho town.
-Ex-army, knife wielding, fade cut women don't like horny crackers.
-But, race car boxers can really charm a sister.
-The phrase "I'm too old for this shit" following an action scene is officially the most overused line of the 80s/90s.
-Ghosts totally like to creep on sex acts.
-A lot of Nick and Chris' conversations during a Phantasm movie start with "I don't understand why..."
-Cryogenic: "because some folks never know when to give it up."
-Heaven has loose standards... even the dimension destroying Tall Man got in!
-Pink hearses do exist.
-"Kickin' zombie ass ain't Roxy's gig."
-Ever accosted by an alien bent on taking over your dimension, send him to Chicago in winter. Cold kills him.
-Skullets are sexy:

Quote of the Viewing:
[Scene: Flabbergasted that he is watching yet another Phantasm movie, Nick grits his teeth as the opening credits begin. With a defeated look on his face, he says in a broken voice:]

Nick: "I have a feeling this movie is going to change my life forever."

RDHP Salute Other Tall Men
With all the leg real estate, I wonder how many times The Tall Man of the Phantasm franchise got asked "how's the weather up there?" As an overlord alien, at least he could rightfully murder them for such a phrase, unlike some of these other tall (sometimes) law abiding citizens.

Abraham Lincoln
6 feet 4 inches
Reason he won his first election? More people could see him while standing on his platform, or while stumping. Oh my stars, wasn't that soft political joke damn hilarious!

7 feet 1 inch
You know he's got skillz... on the basketball court. Acting... not so much.

Robert Pershing Wadlow
8 feet 11 inches
Officially the world's tallest human to ever walk the earth, when he died Wadlow must've been very tired of people asking him to grab them things off the top shelf at the grocery store.

Paul Bunyan
"63 Axe Handles Tall"
He craved out all five great lakes! At least that is what my public school geology teacher said!

Bill Brasky
10 feet tall
He's kind of like Paul Bunyan, only rape-ier.

6 feet 4 inches
Being outright offered the car's front seat since 1990 (puberty).

RDHP Salute Kids That Kick Butt
In honor of Tim the pint-sized alien slayer in Phantasm III the RDHP would like to look back on some of history's other kids who kick butt.

Hit Girl
This girl could use some serious soap + mouth action... but we wouldn't tell her that to her face.

Kevin McCallister
Don't let the Christmas sweater fool you! Thanks to this little mischief maker we now have to worry about getting smacked in the face with a paint can every time we walk up a flight of stairs.

Anakin Skywalker
Talk about a kid who can - wait... how did this whiny-Mcwhinester get on this list?!?

Ernie Reyes Jr.
This kid is the real deal (as anyone who has seen 80's-licious The Last Dragon will tell you)! His karate skills were so tight that they even made a gimmicky TV show around him called... wait for it... Sidekicks. Yeah.

Dennis The Menace
The O.G. of bad-boy kids. Every bad-kid worth his salt owes his attitudinal lineage to this romper.

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