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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Poltergeist 2 & 3

Poltergeist II and III   (Single DVD Double Feature)


Picture:  Sound: Extras:  Film:


Poltergeist II     B-         B-        C-        C

Poltergeist III    B-         B-        C-        C-



If the 1980’s produced two things in the entertainment industry it would have to be bad music and relentless sequels to movies.  The horror genre produced the largest amount of sequels starting with films like Jaws (1975), The Exorcist (1974), Phantasm (1979), Halloween (1978), Friday the 13th (1980), Nightmare on Elm Street (1982), and of course the 1982 film Poltergeist.  Oddly enough the film is co-directed by Tobe Hooper and Steven Spielberg.  Spielberg was coming off the hot tracks that same year with E.T. The Extraterrestrial and Hooper was attempting to garner success like his 1974 film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  Spielberg did all the writing and despite Hooper being the main credited director it is evident the Spielberg had a hand in some of the creative elements, while Hooper did more of the technical aspects. 


In 1986 Poltergeist II: The Other Half attempts to take us onto another scare ride revisiting much of the same ground covered in the first film.  In the sequel the Freeling family move in with Diane’s mother in an attempt to escape the trauma that still haunted Carol Anne after her abduction in Poltergeist by the Beast.  This time around we are introduced to Reverend Kane, which is the human form of the Beast as he attempts to get Carol Anne, but the family has the help of the Psychic Tangina as well as a Native American on their side fighting for her life. 


Despite that many elements within the story are identical this time around the factors affecting the film though are from a production standpoint.  We do not have the directing talents of Spielberg or Hooper this time, but rather Brian Gibson, who has been responsible for some pretty forgettable films such as Breaking Glass (1980) and What’s Love Got to Do with It (1993).  Much of the cast has reunited for this film as well, but they are not quite in the prime form they were for the first film. 


Poltergeist III: The Final Chapter does not waste much time arriving in 1988, but by this time the entire cast in changed.  Tom Skerritt and Nancy Allen are in the leading roles as Carol Anne’s aunt and uncle.  Carol Anne is now played by Heather O’ Rourke rather than JoBeth Williams.  While the cast is sufficient the script on the other hand is not.  Taking a turn at directing this film is Gary Sherman, who is basically a TV director attempting to make a film here, but ends up making a very lame finale to the Poltergeist Trilogy. 


All of the gimmicks that went into the first two films have been reduced to rehashing old material and end up convoluting the story even more.  There are often times where we have no clue what we are watching and the ‘scare’ factor is a bare minimum.  The ramblings of Tangina only complicate matters more.  What made Poltergeist everything that it was has now been played out to a point of parody and one can only be thankful that this is the final chapter in what should have been a short book to begin with. 


M-G-M has been delivering some of their catalog for very respectably low prices, which make consumers quite happy.  What is even better for fans is when the decide to release both films together in one DVD set, such as this case with the double feature of Poltergeist II and III.  Each film occupies one side of the DVD along with a trailer for the film.  There are no other supplements though. 


Both I and II have a Dolby Surround soundtrack that is nothing spectacular.  A new 5.1 mix would have been preferred, but since these films do not quite have the backing as the original film they do not receive such treatment.  M-G-M originally owned the rights to Poltergeist and issued a DVD featuring the film in a 2.35 anamorphic scope transfer with a 5.1, but that was the original M-G-M before Turner bought out their catalog.  Since then, Warner acquired that era of M-G-M and has re-issued the film.  Neither company issued supplements.  The transfer for Poltergeist II delivers the film in its original 2.35 X 1 scope transfer, which is anamorphically enhanced.  Poltergeist III, however, was shot in 1.85 X 1, which throws off the look of the films since the first two were shot in scope.  The look altogether this time around has a much flatter color scheme and the lighting is never quite right for the horror genre.  Both films look quite average and appear to be from an analog source, perhaps from the LaserDiscs issued. 


Fans of this series will be glad to be able to get two films for the price of one, but might be disappointed by the average quality evident in both films.  Although II makes for a better viewing since it’s the better of the two films, there is nothing overly spectacular, which supplements could have made up for.



-   Nate Goss


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