As pertaining to motion pictures, describes any film that exploits, in its marketing or promotion, the use of stereoscopic (3-dimensional) filmmaking techniques.

This blog is my notepad as I research a nonfiction book spotlighting 3-D genre films of the last century. While the book will focus primarily on films from the 60's, 70's and 80's this blog has no restrictions.

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Jason Pichonsky, unless otherwise stated.

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A Halloween Tale from the 3rd Dimension Part III in 3-D


The second segment featured in Tales of the Third Dimension, "The Guardians" is a 19th century period tale of grave-robbing inspired by the works of Poe and Lovecraft.  Things begin with Nigel, a hospitable local graverobber, who returns home fresh from his duties that afternoon, and finds himself entertaining two uninvited vagabonds, Charley and Freddie. After much prompting by the pair, Nigel muses about the people he has buried and the wealth they may have taken to their graves. Quickly after their visit, Charley and Freddie take to robbing that day's newest grave, cutting off the finger of the young dead girl in order to remove a valuable ring.
William Hicks as Nigel, in a performance that channels John Candy's SCTV character Mayor Tommy Shanks.
The next day, Charley, the so-called mastermind of the operation, recalls rumors of secret catacombs hidden under a decrepit church, long since sealed off. The pair return to Nigel and, when coaxing won't work, strong arm him into revealing the entrance’s secret location. After pillaging a few of graves in the catacombs the greedy Charley leaves Freddie for dead, pinned under a gigantic stone that covered a secret chamber. Charley treks deeper into the underground labrinyth and quickly encounters the tomb's guardians.  Rats. More than can be counted.
The "Guardians" is Tales of the Third Dimension's strongest story, though it is not the films most entertaining segment (that is reserved for its last). It is filled with an ambitious visual atmosphere and characters that are as charming as they are dark. Charley in particular is played with devilish flare by Terry Laughlin, while William Hicks’ understated almost non-performance of Nigel services the naive character very well. But the maturity of this segment's direction lies in the hands of E.O. Studios most experienced director, Worth Keeter, a staple at E.O. Studios. Not only did he helm the hillbilly gothic Wolfman (1979) for Owensby (which features an Irish lychanthrope returning to his Carolinian birthplace) but he also had a hand in all of the 3-D productions done at the E.O. studio including its most successful international 3-D project Rottweiler a.k.a The Dogs of Hell (1983). After Owensby’s studios stop producing films he went on to direct a number of straight-to-video features (including 1993’s Snapdragon featuring an early Baywatch Pamela Anderson) finally landing a regular directing gig on the kids TV series Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, overseeing American sequences which were intercut with with the really cool stuff from the Japanese tokusatsu (superhero teams) series of Super Sentai television programs.
Japanese Super Sentai.
The catacombs in "The Guardians" offer ample opportunity to show off depth as the camera tracks past foreground cobwebs and through confined archways filled with skeletal remains. Charley and Freddie must slosh through dank water to enter the bowels of the tomb and past rubber bats on strings (always an entertaining conceit in 3-D films of the era). This is after all a gothic tale on a budget and the rats that eventually devour the greedy Charley are impeccably clean and far less menacing then they should be, despite Keeter's best efforts. But it's not Tales from the Third Dimension's budget shortfalls that keeps "the Guardians" from rising to the showcase segment of the film, as it must have been intended. Indeed it features the movies most grandiose sets and art direction. It's quite simple the story's simple plot and it's all to familiar comeuppance twist ending.

A taste of the 3-D that might exist in the stereoscopic version of the film.

"The Guardians" is a tale well told and finely acted. It must have been a real entertaining treat in 3-D, unfortunately in 2-D it is merely so-so.

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