OF THE THIRD DIMENSION
An eighties horror anthology narrated by a skeleton and originally
released in 3-D. It’s ideal viewing for those who favor the middle of
This 1984 film’s producer, distributor and partial
director was the North Carolina based Earl Owensby, who’s been called
the “redneck Roger Corman.” Owensby turned out half a dozen 3-D low
budgeters during the early-1980s 3-D movie craze, including DOGS OF HELL
(1982), CHAINGANG and the notorious sci fi comedy HYPERSPACE (both
1984). All are now extremely difficult to find, with the present film
being the most easily accessible (online at least).
In a foggy cemetery a grave opens and a talking
skeleton, who identifies himself as Igor and speaks in an extremely poor
Rod Serling imitation, narrates three spooky stories.
The first story concerns two adoption agents summoned
to a creepy mansion by prospective parents. The latter turn out to be
cape-wearing vampires, and, unlikely enough, have a brood of children
already--albeit a brood of extremely creepy children. The adoption is
granted and a young boy delivered to his new vampire parents. The vamps,
however, are unaware that their bundle of joy harbors dangerous
supernatural proclivities that rival their own.
In the second story two thieves attempt to con the
kindly gravedigger Nigel into revealing the location of a rich person’s
grave. The ruse works, and the thieves dig up a wealthy woman wearing a
priceless diamond ring--getting to which entails cutting off the
ring-bearing finger! This only enflames the thieves’ ambition, and they
pay Nigel a second visit to get him to reveal the location of some
underground catacombs that are said to contain even greater riches.
Nigel is nearly killed in the melee but gives up the catacombs’
whereabouts, and the thieves waste no time accessing that locale. But
they’re in for a surprise, as the catacombs contain a wealth of
unexpected (though none-too-scary) horrors.
In the final segment two young children are sent to
stay with their pill-popping grandmother at Christmastime. The old
woman, it transpires, is a homicidal nut. She tries to kill the kids by
mixing rat poison into their hot chocolate but accidentally drinks the
stuff herself. Further outrages perpetrated by the hag include telling
the kids their parents have died in a plane crash, placing a toaster
dangerously close to the bathtub while they bathe, and cooking a cat.
She eventually goes after the kids with a shotgun, but is thwarted by a
most unexpected intruder.
The film stacks up like this: the Earl Owensby directed
wraparound sequences are plain annoying, with comedy that falls
flat--especially the dopey banter of a flock of fake buzzards watching
over the talking skeleton. The first sequence is diverting, though
nothing special. The second part follows suit, and is also overlong and
lacking in scares. Part three, written and directed by Todd Durham, is
the best of the lot, with a streak of pitch-dark comedy that actually
works (the old woman’s psychotic desecration of “Twas the Night Before
Christmas” is a standout), although the effect is marred by the bad
performances of the child actors.
Cinematically there’s nothing too exciting here, though
nothing too distractingly terrible, either--yet there are quite a few
noticeable bad movie mainstays, including noisy chirping bird ambiance
in daylight scenes (and croaking frog sounds at night), as well as a
severely hokey score and far too many fake-looking house, graveyard and
crypt sets. Yet overall the project is moderate and inoffensive, never
especially lurid or gory, nor particularly evocative or atmospheric.
However, there is one bizarre element: the opening
title sequence doesn’t occur until 55 minutes into the film! I’m
assuming this was a mistake perpetrated, perhaps, by a projectionist
mixing up the reels, but it’s a mistake that for whatever reason hasn’t
TALES OF THE THIRD DIMENSION
Earl Owensby Studios
Directors: Worth Keeter, Tom McIntyre, Earl Owensby
Producers: John Brock, Charles Heath, Earl Owensby
Screenplay: Tom Durham, Worth Keeter, Tom McIntyre
Cinematography: Irl Dixon
Editing: Matthew Mallinson, Bruce Stubblefield
Cast: Robert Bloodworth, Kevin Campbell, William T. Hicks, Kate Hunter,
Terry Laughlin, Kathy O’Toole, Neal Powell, Leon Rippy, Dandy Stevenson,
Fran Taylor, Helene Tryon