Director – Brian Gibson
Cast – JoBeth Williams, Craig T. Nelson, Heather O’Rourke, Oliver Robbins, Zelda Rubinstein, Will Sampson, Julian Beck, Geraldine Fitzgerald
Release Year – 1986
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Poltergeist remains one of my favorite childhood horror films and one that I still enjoy watching to this day, but I really could not remember what went on in it’s sequel, Poltergeist II: The Other Side and whether or not it was even worth watching. I saw the opportunity to give this one a watch and after doing so I must say that not only does this pale in comparison to the original but this was not nearly as enjoyable as I expected it to be.
After the supernatural events that haunted them in the previous home the Freeling family has relocated to a new home in hopes of starting new lives, but their troubles are far from over when the malevolent force returns to their new home.
I didn’t expect this to be as good as its predecessor but I did expect it to be better than it turned out to be. The storyline is so-so, continuing the troubles of the Freeling family just in a different location, with a few new prominent characters added to the mix. The usage of Taylor, a Native American shaman, was positive, as was his nemesis Kane, a creepy old man with ties to the horror the Freelings are experiencing. Once again Carol Anne is on the front lines of this battle between good and evil, and thankfully her character was not wasted either. Those of you familiar with the mysteries surrounding this series may be wondering what was made of Carol Anne’s sister Dana Freeling given the beautiful actress Dominique Dunne was killed after the release of Poltergeist, and to answer your question there is absolutely no mention of her in this film. Yes, that is right, she simply disappeared. From what I have read it seems there was a mention of her filmed in which her parents state that she is away at college and the clip was removed from the final cut. If that is true then I guess I cannot blame Steven Spielberg and his other two writers for this gaffe, which is a stupid one to say the least. Sadly Spielberg’s writing did little to help the film aside from that as most of this flick consisted of uninteresting material. Sure we are given a few creatures here and there in scenes that I enjoyed, this really was a pretty toned down experience compared to its predecessor, and the climax to the film is absolutely ridiculous and one of the most laugh-out-loud sorry endings I have ever seen.
Director Brian Gibson did an OK job with this piece, giving us good atmosphere and positive sets to help keep the viewer engaged, and the creatures used were pretty sweet looking and well-executed. Sadly the horror overall was pretty tame and never the least bit scary or even creepy, although he got a stellar performance from Julian Beck as Kane. This film definitely had more of a childhish feel too it and I believe that negatively affected my enjoyment, which coupled with his poor direction of the stupid and moronic made for faults that I just cannot forgive.
Overall, Poltergeist II: The Other Side is a letdown for those who wish to see more of what went on in Poltergeist. While we get the same family and another haunting presence that brings forth some fair creature action at the end, the rest of the film lacks the punch given in the first and adjoined with a horrible climax this flick is one that could have been better, but is far from that.