Tales of the Third Dimension in 3-D (1984)

First off, that title says the same thing twice. But hey, let’s forgive a movie that has a skeletal narrator who is supposed to sound like Rod Serling but has a voice-over actor who didn’t get the memo and decided to sound more like Howard Cosell. This movie has the temerity to use puppets not only in the opening, but for the bats and other creatures throughout, as well as one of the worst cat effects ever. This all makes make love this because it was shot on film and made in 1984. If it was a digital video streaming release from this year, I would have hated it. Such is the wonder of me.

This movie came out of the Earl Owensby Studios, a place where Ginger Alden made Lady Grey opposite David Allen Coe and the thinly-veiled Elvis bio Living Legend: The King of Rock and Ro complete with a soundtrack by Roy Orbison. The secret to Owensby’s success? Never spending more than a million dollars to make a film and never signing a distribution deal that would net them less than eight million. He also knew how to make money, because his purchase of the abandoned Cherokee Nuclear Power Plant ended up providing exactly the set that James Cameron was able to fill with water to make The Abyss.

Igor the skeleton is joined by some ravens — or vultures or crows, they’re puppets that aren’t well made — three of whom sound like the Three Stooges and two that are Laurel and Hardy to cover all the comedy bases as he introduces three tales of terror that all involve Dr. Tongue-level three-dimensional effects.

In Young Blood, a vampiric couple pushes an adoption agency to get a child — any child — and end up with a werewolf. If you’ve seen it all before, you have, as this story is “The Secret” from Haunt of Fear #24. Seriously, it’s the same exact story, but if you’re going to steal for your portmanteau, I guess steal from the best.

The Guardians is the tale of grave robbers who need money so bad that they’ll cut the ring off a dead woman’s finger (and take the finger as well). They get even greedier and descend into the catacombs under the graves where they meet their fate.

The whole reason you should watch this movie is the last segment, Visions of Sugar Plums. Two kids are dropped off at grandmother’s house for the holidays as their parents go away to Hawaii. However, grandma has run out of her medicine and ends up singing Christmas carols about puking all over the place and killing Santa with a brick before she brines the cat like a holiday ham — don’t worry, this effect was literally taking a live cat and putting some pineapples on him — and then grabbing a shotgun to kill the kids who defend themselves with knives as a deranged version of “Jingle Bells” plays. To top this all off, this segment was directed by Todd Durham*, who would create the Hotel Transylvania series of movies. He also made another 3D Owensby Studios film, Hyperspace (AKA Gremloids) which somehow stars Paula Poundstone and Chris Elliot.

Somehow, the titles for this movie show up nearly an hour into the movie. You have to love that kind of who cares filmmaking. I have no doubt that this movie will eventually come out from Vinegar Syndrome and people will lose their minds. Jump in now and drink in that third story.

*The other stories are directed by Worth Keeter, who would go on to make multiple episodes of Power Rangers, and Thom McIntyre, who wrote nearly all of the filmography of Owensby Studios.

You can watch this on YouTube.

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