The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
The Video Vacuum
thevideovacuum

TALES OF THE THIRD DIMENSION (1984) **

A rotted corpse named Igor, who talks with a Rod Serling voice, rises from his grave to tell three tales of terror. Since it’s a 3-D movie (which I saw in 2-D unfortunately), he also hurls things at the audience on occasion (including his own head). Meanwhile two teams of vultures look on and make lame wisecracks. (One team imitates The Three Stooges and the other acts like Laurel and Hardy.)

The first story, Young Blood (**) is about a cartoonish vampire couple who contact an adoption agency. They want another child to add to their ever-growing brood and eventually settle on a young “problem child”. In the end, they fatally discover why the kid has so many problems.

This story suffers from a goofy premise. It might have worked if they didn’t go so over the top with the vampire characterizations. The twist ending is predictable, but the big reveal is ruined by some truly awful special effects.

The second tale, The Guardians (** ½) features two greedy grave robbers who visit their grave digger friend. He tells them about the local catacombs containing hundreds of corpses that have been walled up for mysterious reasons. They then decide to stop robbing graves and go for the big score. When they enter the catacombs, they soon realize why it’s been closed.

This is by far the most serious story. The feel of this tale is closest to that of the old Tales from the Crypt comics. Director Worth (Snapdragon) Keeter fills this segment with plenty of atmosphere, but he rushes the ending. It’s a shame too because with a satisfying payoff, this could’ve been a winner.

The final story, Visions of Sugar Plums (** ½) finds some abusive parents dropping their kids off to grandma’s for Christmas. They soon learn that grandma is straight-up nuts. She talks to imaginary people, spins around in her wheelchair, and uses toasters on the edge of the bathtub. When Christmas comes, granny snaps, and takes after them with a shotgun.

This sequence is full of dry humor, and while it’s rarely laugh-out-loud funny, it does have a weird charm about it. The rampant child endangerment in this story takes some of the fun out of it though. The twist ending is stupid, but enjoyably so. (I wouldn’t dream of spoiling it.) Of all the stories, this probably could’ve been expanded as its own feature length movie.

The wraparound segments (**) are just too goofy to really work. Igor is a neat (albeit cheap) riff on the Crypt Keeper, but the comic relief vultures really get on your nerves. If I saw this in its intended 3-D version, I might’ve given it a better rating as hands, shotguns, chainsaws, bats (they look like stuffed animals on obvious wires), and eyeballs fly out at the screen.

Tales of the Third Dimension is pretty odd. Anthology horror films are usually uneven due to their very nature, but this one is all over the place. While I can’t say it’s good or anything, it certainly has its moments. I’m glad I saw it, although I probably won’t want to see it again anytime soon. (Well, maybe Visions of Sugar Plums might be fun to dust off around Christmas.)

One weird thing: The title doesn’t pop up onscreen until the third story. I don’t know if they switched the order of the stories at the last minute and forgot to move the title or what, but it’s really bewildering to see the title card an hour into the movie. That’s got to be some sort of record.

AKA: Igor.

Tags: anthology, horror, t, vampires, werewolf, xmas
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