Phantasm III (DVD)
Directed by Don Coscarelli
Distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment
In 1988, after about ten years, we finally got a sequel to one of the greatest horror films of our time, Phantasm. Things had changed quite a bit for our characters. With Jody (Thornbury) gone, Mike (then played by James LeGros) and Reggie (Bannister) were hunting The Tall Man (Scrimm) in an attempt to finally put an end to his evil. Of course things didn't go as planned, and The Tall Man once again came out on top. Then in 1994 the ball came back again, and this time it brought back a few old friends. Once again, joining Scrimm and Bannister, the original Pearson brothers, Mike (Baldwin) and Jody (Thornbury), reported in for some dead ass-kicking duty! Life was good in the land of Phantasm! That is until studio execs decided this baby was better off going direct-to-video. Joy.
As a result Phantasm III, aka Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead, has spent a lot of time languishing in obscurity. In fact, up until now the only way to get this film was either by tracking down foreign releases, making do with an old VHS copy, or finding a crafty bootlegger who would burn you a copy for a few bucks. Enter Anchor Bay. They snatched up the rights to this nasty little fright fest and have one upped the entire competition by not only offering the film on DVD officially here in the States for the first time but also releasing it unrated with restored gore! God bless their black little hearts!
Soon after a horrible hearse accident (Phantasm II), The Tall Man captures Mike and leaves Reggie on his own. Thankfully Jody's spirit is back taggin' along to show old Reg the way to his brother. Along the way Reggie picks up a Nunchaku-wielding tough chick named Rocky (Henry) and a crack shot kid named Tim (Connors), who are both pissed about the ravaging that the tall one has given their hometown. Together our trio take on all manner of baddies with sticky results.
Phantasm III is both loved and hated among fans, the main reason being that it brings some humor to the series. As a result characters like Rocky come off as goofy in parts, Reggie seems more interested in getting laid than fighting evil's minions, and Tim spends most of his time acting like a bloodthirsty Macaulay Culkin. There no question, this one can be really hit or miss. Still, despite its shortcomings, The Tall Man is as badass as ever, and this film's newly restored grue is right on the mark.
Despite it being labeled as the next Anchor Bay Collection DVD, this release doesn't have a tenth of the extras that can be found on the DVDs for Re-Animator (review here) and, more recently, the original Phantasm (review here). Being that this is coming out the very same day as its older brother, I'm looking at this as more of an addendum to that release.
So what do we get? Honestly, not much. There are about ten minutes of behind-the-scenes footage (shot home video style), an engaging commentary with Scrimm and Baldwin in which they describe the bathroom orgies and on-set fistfights that were occurring while filming, and one deleted scene. Again, not a whole lot, but at least the film is finally here and in unrated form at that.
There's no question it's good to be able to add an official release of this to the DVD collection. Phantasm is one of the few franchises out there that are incomplete by today's digital standards. Unless of course you're from the UK. Then you get the whole shebang complete with special sphere packaging (you lucky bastards with region free DVD players can order that here). Maybe, with the hopeful success of these releases, Universal Home Video will do the right thing and put out Phantasm II for us. Sadly though, I wouldn't hold my breath. At least the smaller video companies give a shit about what the fans want. Viva la Anchor Bay!
Audio commentary with A. Michael Baldwin and Angus Scrimm
Phantasm III behind-the-scenes footage
3 1/2 out of 5
2 1/2 out of 5
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