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An Interview with D. Kerry Prior Sphere Effects - PHANTASM III
Excerpted from Cine Fantastique/Mad Movies Volume 83
(Translated from the French)

Kerry Prior has the balls; that's exactly his responsibility on the set of PHANTASM III. Chromed up, dazzling and polished, they fly about, drill holes, and promise some delightful surprises for fans of Don Coscarelli's imaginative series.

Question: You're the supervisor for the spheres for PHANTASM III, a sort of Master of the Balls.

Prior: It's a hell of a responsibility when you consider that in PHANTASM III there are ninety special effects shots with the spheres. That's four times more than in PHANTASM and PHANTASM II combined. In all, I created sixty spheres, but in the screenplay, one sequence suggests an invasion of several hundred of these metal monsters. Our flying spheres are, above all, the result of mirrors and clever staging. We also use remote control, by radio, which makes it unnecessary to resort to cables, or to filming the spheres in slow motion and throwing them from off screen to explode against walls. That was the case on the set of the first PHANTASM.

Question: Don Coscarelli says that the concept of the spheres is different from the first two films. In PHANTASM III, they have personality!

Prior: Yes, Don decided to give them a certain spirituality. They have veritable supernatural powers, and they are intelligent. In a sense, the sphere is the perfect monster, with no face and a surface that reflects everything around it; there's neither any color nor real texture. The chrome, however, glows, while mirroring the environment. It reflects the general surroundings, but also the fear, the terror that's written on the face of its prey. This effect of capturing the victim's own death image is more terrifying, more horrible than any mask of a monster who grimaces, froths at the mouth and drools blood. The spheres of PHANTASM III are very metaphysical, very pure monsters. It's true that given the manner in which Don Coscarelli uses them, they're sometimes horrifying objects, but I am convinced that the spheres have touched the unconscious of the public as few monsters have.

Question: But the spheres don't speak in PHANTASM III, do they?

Prior: Well, one does! But as to the others, we do try to distinguish their actions. If a sphere crosses a room or passes through a window, we do it in such a way that one knows whether it's attacking or fleeing. One day I asked Don about the origins of these shiny demons. He barely answered; he's very discreet on this question...

Question: What functions do the spheres have in PHANTASM III? Do they just drill into people's skulls?

Prior: Oh no! They've evolved since the first film. One of them possesses a periscoping eye device that acts as a kind of scanner for the Tall Man. All the others contain weapons, the brain-drills, obviously, but also a wide range of unique blades, especially the larger golden sphere - the "Big Bad Mama" of the group. Don asked me to give her very specific tools of terror. Working from his designs, we created a extensive set of blades that come out from everywhere and can spin like tops. Let's just say that this sphere is particularly nasty! Even wilder than that, the screenplay describes a sphere containing a pulsing brain. Mark Shostrom was in charge of that special effect. Apart from my spheres, I also transformed the hands of the Tall Man into snapping, spider-like creatures.

 

 
 

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