Monday, 22 August 2011

Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986)

I used to love Poltergeist II when I was young. I thought it was even better than the first movie. Now, with the benefit of age and wisdom (okay, okay, just with the benefit of age then), I can see a lot of the flaws it has and how it pales in comparison to the first movie.

Almost all of the main cast members return (with the exception of Dominique Dunne who was, tragically, killed by an abusive ex-boyfriend not long after the release of the first movie) for the continuing tale of a family plagued by supernatural events. This time around they have help in the form of Taylor (Will Sampson) as young Carol Anne (Heather O’Rourke) is targeted by crazy Kane (Julian Beck, who died of stomach cancer after this film was completed). The Freeling family must stick together as a unit to battle the forces working against them.

It seems kind of churlish to complain about a lack of believability in a sequel to a movie that revolved around a little girl being taken by ghosts into a TV but that’s the biggest failing of this sequel. It’s also not helped by an uneven tone that fails to blend horror and humour as effectively as the first movie did and, instead, just has one or two impressive moments left among a number of other scenes drained of any tension due to a mix of lacklustre execution and overused humour. This time around, the Freeling family (Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams as the father and mother, in particular) don’t seem particularly terrified by everything going on around them. While I appreciate that this time around they’re seeing spookiness that’s not entirely new to them I still think that they should have been more shaken up. 

Michael Grais and Mark Victor return to the writing duties, with Brian Gibson taking a turn in the director’s chair, but this movie is saved by the cast and one or two great special effects moments (just keep your eye on that tequila worm as one prime example). 

It’s not a bad movie at all but, unsurprisingly, it’s not as good as the superb original. 

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