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Poltergeist III (1988)

DVD Cover (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
Movie Connections:
Poltergeist
> Poltergeist (1982)
> Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986)
> Poltergeist III (1988)
Director:
Gary Sherman Gary Sherman
Starring:
Tom Skerritt Tom Skerritt
Nancy Allen Nancy Allen
Heather O'Rourke Heather O'Rourke
Zelda Rubinstein Zelda Rubinstein
Lara Flynn Boyle Lara Flynn Boyle

4.7 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres: Haunted House Film, Horror, Supernatural Horror
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Review by Chad
Added: January 06, 2012
I've been going through the Poltergeist movies lately, and maybe I'm just missing something - I just don't know what the fuss was about or why the series has received the "classic" status that it has. I thought that the first film was pretty good, don't get me wrong: but a classic? I just wasn't seeing it. It had some great special effects and a decent story, but take away those effects, and you're left with nothing but "a decent story." A classic? Not in my eyes. Then came the inevitable sequel, a film so drawn out and boring that I had to watch it in shifts over the course of two days. So, I wasn't expecting a classic from the last film in the series, but what I got was just downright horrible.

The story for this one finds young Carol Anne (Heather O'Rourke) now living with her aunt and uncle (Nancy Allen and Tom Skerritt) and their daughter (Lara Flynn Boyle) in Chicago, due to the fact that the people who played her parents in the previous films wanted no part with this movie... excuse me, it's never explained why she's living there. A psychologist (Richard Fire) has learned of her troubled past and chalks it up to the power of suggestion, claiming that Carol Anne is manipulating those around her into believing that ghostly shit is going on. He performs hypnosis on her, and this prompts the good Reverend Henry Kane (Nathan Davis) to show up and begin tormenting our heroine once again. From there, simply combine the plots from the first two movies together and you'll know what happens here.

Before getting down to business, I'd like to give a nod to little Heather O'Rourke, who died towards the end of filming her role in the movie. She looks terrible here due to her real-life condition, and I'm not trying to pick on the poor girl: she really should have been at home or in a hospital instead of in front of a camera. She does perfectly fine in her role, but it's plainly obvious that she was very ill during the shoots.

So, with that out of the way, the movie is just simply garbage. The main premise of this one is that the ghosts use mirrors to interact with the real world, and this gimmick makes for a couple of nice scenes until the idea is beaten to death. You've seen this stuff before: somebody will be standing in front of a mirror and we think everything is fine, but then the "real" person moves... and the reflection doesn't, or the reflection does something different and we realize that it's not such a mundane scene after all. This gimmick was neat the first few times, but after we've seen it play out over a dozen times, it starts to get a little old and it begins to lose its effect.

As mentioned, the story here is otherwise a mish-mash of the first two films. The Reverend shows up, spooky shit starts to happen, inanimate objects fly around, Carol Anne is taken over to the other side, Tangina (Zelda Rubinstein) comes to the rescue, the heroes have to rescue the child, blah blah blah. Aside from the thing with the mirrors, there wasn't a shred of originality here and this was just one of the things that dragged the movie down.

What makes that last paragraph even worse is that the acting found here is pretty bad - maybe not horrible, but not even average. You see, Nancy Allen and Tom Skerritt are the stars of the movie, and they get almost all of the screen time. Heather O'Rourke is pretty good for a child actress, but she disappears shortly into the film and doesn't reappear until much later. Lara Flynn Boyle is also pretty good in her first role, but again, she disappears shortly into the running time and doesn't make too many appearances afterward. Even Zelda Rubinstein, who was dealing with the death of her mother in the real world, disappears and reappears at random throughout the running time.

In summary, Poltergeist III is a rehash of the first two movies, only, without the originality of their scripts, the great special effects, or the acting abilities of, you know, good actors. I'm not going to tell you that it's the worst movie I have ever seen, but it definitely ranks on that list. 2/10.
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