Tales of the Third Dimension (1984)

I swear, there’s nothing more baffling and unusual than “Tales of the Third Dimension,” a horror anthology of cobbled together horror tropes that doesn’t deliver a remotely scary movie. There’s a stiff, robotic skeleton who narrates in a bad Rod Serling impression. He’s accompanied by three puppet buzzards that interact with one another like the Three Stooges, and there’s the inexplicable recurring presence of cats. It was originally supposed to be in 3D, so there are a ton of scenes obviously meant for the gimmick that just looks laugh out loud moronic sans the effect. Finally there are three bland horror tales where, I swear, the moral of one is “Be a good kid, and Santa Claus will defend you against your psychotic, mentally deranged, wheelchair bound grandmother.”

If you think the bad 3D in “Friday the 13th 3D” is just hysterical and distracting, you’ll definitely have to get a load of the even worse effects. One scene even finds narrator Igor pointing at the audience with an obvious close up hand dangling from a string. Spoo-ky! We meet Igor (Ironically resembling the skeleton in the final scene of “Return of the Living Dead”), as he rises from the grave to “terrify” audiences with three tales in the vein of EC Comics and “The Twilight Zone.” The problem is that neither of the tales we see here is as clever or alarming as the aforementioned horror series. “Tales of the Third Dimension” really is a sight to behold. It’s such a botched and poorly directed movie from top to bottom, that the introduction of the movie is planted right before the final tale of the movie.

It’s obvious “Visions of Sugar Plums” was supposed to be the opener, and the editor plopped it in the finale and forgot to cut out the opening title. It’s so pathetically amateur. “Young Blood” is a story that was much better told in the “Tales from the Crypt” episode “Adoption.” Two child welfare workers are called out in the middle of the night to visit a couple looking to adopt a child. With the workers anxiously trying to palm off a “problem child” on them, they’re surprised when the couple is secretly vampires who love to adopt orphans and eat them–even though they have a huge den of vampire children that they’ve adopted… for some reason. This segment is very simple and abrupt as the events unfold without a single hitch, and the vampire couple learns that their new adopted son is in fact a werewolf.

The “twist” endings make no sense and I suggest not over thinking it. “The Guardians” is a goofy “Greed is bad, mmkay?” tale about grave robbers who force a cemetery caretaker to give them the location to catacombs that will allow them treasures. There they find a lame fate, including the main character who is murdered by… white lab rats (?). “Visions of Sugar Plums” is like “The Visit” except without the quality, and garners a cheap cop out ending from a writer obviously stumped on how to end it all. Truthfully I was just glad it ended. And yes, the highlight is one of the kids in the tale playing with a He-Man and Battlecat figure. I’m not sure who “Tales of the Third Dimension” was intended for. It’s too “Disney’s Haunted Mansion” to appeal to hardcore horror buffs, and might be a bit too intense for kids. It’s right smack dab in the middle for horror fans that enjoy hate watching bad movies.