Poltergeist II and III (Single DVD Double Feature)
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
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