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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Phantasm III
Phantasm III
Starz / Anchor Bay // R // April 10, 2007
List Price: $19.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted April 3, 2007 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Recommended
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P R I N T
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The Movie:

The third film continues where the second one left off. Reggie and Mike (Michael Baldwin reprising the role once more) are still living on the road, cruising down one long and lonely highway after the other in Reggie's Cuda in search of the Tall Man and in hopes of putting a stop to him once and for all.

Our heroes are able to follow his trail pretty easily, as he leaves rather large calling cards in his wake, namely complete and utter destruction. The towns he has made his way through are nothing more than empty husks, ghost towns even, and not a single living soul is left save for one small boy living alone in the house where he and his parents once lived before the Tall Man took them from him. Much like Mike in the first film, this tough little guy knows how to fend for himself and he too wants to make the Tall Man pay for what he did. Throw a sassy black lady named Rocky (Gloria Lynne Henry who pops up briefly in The Devil's Advocate) with a penchant for beating her opponents into submission with her nunchaku and you've got yourself quite a team.

This time out, Coscarelli concentrates as much on the horror as he does on the action and the results are a stronger storyline that continues more along the lines of the tradition setup in the first movie than in the second. There's still plenty of action in here and more than a few characters who show up to serve as nothing more than cannon fodder for the Tall Man and his spheres. The last half of the film and the abundance of supernatural elements bring this one to a much more surreal playing field than the second movie and it falls somewhere in between the first and the second film in terms of quality and in terms of scares.

Plenty of gore and make up effects keep things interesting and a few atmospheric touches, such as the kid in the clown mask roaming the secret passage ways of his empty home guarding it from intruders, make this an interesting watch. Bannister is in fine form here, bringing a bit more personality to his character and giving us a bit more character development to chew on as the movie plays out. Another 'Reggie Bannister Love Scene' (a film phenomena equaled only by the patented 'Don The Dragon' Wilson Love Scene' in that it's completely ridiculous and more than a little too long and it features a man who would never score with a lady of this caliber outside of the movies!) adds some humor which he handles well but he's also quite at home in the action scenes here.

Bringing Michael Baldwin back to support him was a wise casting choice – he's the real Mike in the Phantasm films and having him back in the role he made only helps the film in the end. The highlights of the film are, of course, those in which Scrimm is given opportunity to shine in his signature role. While the script and some of the supporting performances aren't going to make any new friends, Scrimm is as strong as always as the Tall Man and whenever he's on screen the movie shines. Throw in a few good gore set pieces and plenty of flying sphere drill thing action and you've got a decent time killer with some fun moments and enjoyably disturbing murder set pieces.

The DVD

Video:

Anchor Bay presents Phantasm III in a nice 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. It is a little bit soft in some scenes but the film has always looked this way so it's likely always going to. Color reproduction is quite strong and the black levels stay consistent and rich throughout. Detail levels in both the foreground and the background of the image are nice and there are no problems with mpeg compression artifacts and only some mild edge enhancement proves distracting. Skin tones look lifelike and natural and for the most part this region one DVD looks quite good.

Sound:

Phantasm is presented with three audio options – a 2.0 Stereo track, and a newly created Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix. The movie also includes English subtitles that are clean, clear, easy to read and free of any typographical errors. If you want the original 2.0 Stereo mix, it's here and it sounds good but surround sound enthusiasts ought to get a kick out of the added rear channel activity, especially during the scenes where the spheres kick into action (your subwoofer will get a bit of a work out during these scenes). Dialogue is clean and clear and free of any hiss or distortion and there aren't any problems with tininess in the high end. The lower end is strong and powerful and the bass will provide plenty of rumble during the action scenes or the car scenes. Those who own the Anchor Bay UK boxed set release will notice that the sound mixes on this Region 1 DVD are pretty much the same as those created for that excellent set.

Extras:

The third film in the franchise gets a commentary track, this time from Michael Baldwin and Angus Scrimm, which has been carried over from the Anchor Bay UK boxed set release. You might think that Coscarelli's involvement in this track would be missed and it is quieter and more subdued than the commentary tracks on the first two movies but these guys are friendly and amicable throughout. Baldwin talks about how his character changes, how he came back on board for the movie, and Scrimm fills in some details here and there about some of the effects work and some of the location shooting that they did for the movie. It would have been nice to have Banister and Coscarelli on board to liven things up a bit, but as it stands, this is a reasonably interesting track that fans of the series will enjoy.

Up next is Phantasm III – Behind The Scenes which is simply nine-minutes of behind the scenes footage shot on video while the production was under way, presented here without any context or commentary. There is some neat material in here, particularly when we get a chance to see some of the effects being applied to a few key scenes, but some commentary sure would have added some value to this.

Rounding out the extra features are a single deleted scene (eleven seconds in total), a trailer for the feature, a trailer for the first Phantasm film and promo spots for other Anchor Bay DVD releases. Animated menus and chapter stops for the feature are also included and the disc comes with an insert that reproduces the film's original poster art on one side and which contains a chapter listing on the reverse.

Final Thoughts:

Phantasm III is not the best film in the series, but those who enjoy the franchise will certainly get a kick out of this one as it definitely has a few fun moments and a great performance from the always reliable Angus Scrimm. Anchor Bay's disc has an enjoyable commentary track but aside from that the extra features aren't mindblowing. Regardless, the audio and video presentation is very solid and the disc comes recommended.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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