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Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986)

DVD Cover (UK)
Movie Connections:
Poltergeist
> Poltergeist (1982)
> Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986)
> Poltergeist III (1988)
Genres:
Haunted House Film, Horror, Supernatural Horror
Director:
Brian Gibson Brian Gibson
Starring:
JoBeth Williams JoBeth Williams
Craig T. Nelson Craig T. Nelson
Heather O'Rourke Heather O'Rourke
Oliver Robins Oliver Robins
Zelda Rubinstein Zelda Rubinstein

5.0 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Tristan
Added: November 09, 2007
It's universally known that any successful 80's movie gets a sequel. It's one of those unspoken rules of the movie business. Some, like the Lost Boys 2 and The Goonies 2, take 20 years or more. But normally it's within a few years, to cash in on the success of the original film. Poltergeist II took 4 years to come out, which might seem like quite a while, and may or may not have had something to do with the murder of Dominique Dunne, the oldest child of the Freeling Family. All that curse hoopla aside, this movie took 4 years to come out, and while it's not the worst sequel I've ever seen, it - if you'll pardon my small pun - takes the spirit of the first movie, and tramples all over it.

It's a year after the events of the first film, and the Freeling family are living with Diane's mother (Geraldine Fitzgerald) in her beautiful summer home. The whole family is there save Dana (Dominique Dunne) and they are quite the mess. On the surface everything seems fine, except for their terrible 80's haircuts, but we soon learn that they are running out of money, and the little money they are making comes from Stephen selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door. In a heart-to-heart between Grandma and Carol Anne, we learn that Grandma too, had odd powers as a young girl. She knew things before they happened, but was unable to explain how she knew them. Too bad she didn't still have that power, as she would have predicted her own death later that night. The night after this, there is a terrible storm over their house. During it, the poltergeists return and speak to Carol Anne not through a TV, but her toy phone. After quipping the lame tagline "they're back", the family gather some belongings and attempt to leave the house, hoping their troubles will stay there with them. It's about this time that Taylor (Will Sampson) shows up. Taylor is a large Indian man who has been sent to help the Freelings defeat the spirits who pursue their family. Defeat may not be the best word choice here, as it's really a matter of helping these spirits cross over to the other side.

This is exactly what Henry Kane (Julian Beck) has in mind, and he's going to need Carol Anne to do it. A lunatic preacher, he harasses the family to let him use Carol Anne to get the spirits to follow her into the light. Unfortunately this would require Carol Anne to stay in the light herself, and the Freeling family will have none of that.

So they've got a house full of poltergeists, an Indian protector, and a crazy priest trying to kidnap their daughter. Believe it or not, this really is the plot to this movie. Hard to believe that after how fantastic the first film was, they had to shit all over it and create this drivel.

First of all, why was Craig T. Nelson sporting a mullet for only 3 or 4 scenes at the beginning of the movie. You can argue all you want that he must have gotten his haircut, but no. This is just a continuity problem. I can overlook this kind of thing in Army of Darkness, but not a sequel to one of the biggest horror movies of its time. Also, whoever wrote the dialogue sequences between the kids should be murdered. A 14 and 11 year-old calling each other infant and jerko? Jerko I can stomach, but them calling each other infant is just awful. Even worse is that it's a running theme throughout the entire movie. Then you have the huge lack of screen time for Julian Beck. This man was the only thing the movie had going for it, and he was barely in it. I'm not sure what kind of makeup effects, if any, they applied to this man's face, but he looked like Walter Donovan 2/3 of the way into his death scene in The Last Crusade. It's funny how only the newer characters were enjoyable, while every returning cast member from the original film were boring, lifeless, and unbearable to watch.

If I was to nitpick and rant about everything that bothered me about this movie, it would be an unbearably long review. So I'll just leave it at that, and go on to the good stuff. And, done.

I was contemplating giving this movie a big fat zero, but I decided that Julian Beck's performance was worth a point or two, and there was a special effects sequence that was very well done, which brought the total up to a 3. This was a movie in the Poltergeist series, but it was hardly a movie about poltergeist. A more appropriate title would have been The Freelings vs. Common Household Items. Because when it boils down to it, this movie was an hour of nothing, and 25 minutes of a house attacking a group of people. It's a good thing Dominique Dunne died before this film was made, because it would have certainly killed her career. It's too bad my 50th review had to be this abysmal piece of garbage.

3/10.
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bluemeanie #1: bluemeanie - added 11/09/2007, 12:57 PM
You know -- I like this film a LOT more than you did, primarily for Julian Beck. He was enough to make me love it. He has some genuinely creepy scenes, and I thought the plotline was original enough to keep me more than a little interested. 7/10.
Crispy #2: Crispy - added 11/09/2007, 09:36 PM
Was Zelda Rubinstein not in this? That's worse than an Arnold-less Terminator.
Tristan #3: Tristan - added 11/09/2007, 09:52 PM
She was. For about 3 minutes. Not even worth mentioning, as she did absolutely nothing for the movie besides make you go "Oh hey, she's back"
Crispy #4: Crispy - added 11/09/2007, 11:01 PM
Ugh, end that.
Griffinheart #5: Griffinheart - added 08/06/2010, 10:53 PM
The only good scene was when a ghost possessed the braces of the young boy.

Didn't even check that P2 had been reviewed when I posted a mini-review of P3 (much better than #2).
Chad #6: Chad - added 12/30/2011, 09:14 PM
I thought the first one was alright - nothing great, just alright. This, though... wow, what a step down. 3/10.
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