In the original Phantasm, The Tall Man (Angus Scrimm), a villainous mortuary employee, breeds dwarves inside tombs to be "workers" in another realm. Don Coscarelli's film was enticingly cryptic, but Phantasm III is a confused mess. Mike (A. Michael Baldwin) and his big brother, Jody (Bill Thornbury), are recently orphaned and become grossly entangled in the supernatural crime scene occurring at the cemetery, as The Tall Man seeks to kill everyone in town. The boys recruit Jody's buddy, Reggie (Reggie Bannister), an ice cream man, to help squelch The Tall Man, to no avail. In Phantasm III, the same boys, all grown up, are still battling The Tall Man, though his dwarves have multiplied and have wiped out entire cities across Idaho. Zombies prevail, and the viewer never really finds out The Tall Man's purpose, or why he wants to claim Mike. Phantasm's inimitable mystery and style, with the chrome orb that flies towards victim's heads with rotating blades, the finger in a box that bleeds yellow goo, or the tuning fork gate to the dwarf netherworld, is replaced in Phantasm III by schlock gore, in which dwarves are shot with machine guns and felled like trees. Mystery is spoiled by too much dialogue spoken by the before nearly-mute Tall Man, and by the dwarves who've acquired silly monster faces under hoods that previously hid their identity. The film's greatest asset is its wondrously eerie title theme song by Fred Myrow and Malcolm Seagrave, reiterated from the original horror masterpiece. --Trinie Dalton
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