Though never a huge fan of the original POLTERGEIST, POLTERGEIST II: THE OTHER SIDE manages to make it feel like a masterpiece in comparison to this overdone sequel.
The Freeling family (sans older daughter Dana) is still coping with the ruin that the ghosts brought to their home, but they still have each other and that should be enough, right?
Well as it turns out the spirits, having tasted Carol Anne’s (Heather O’Rourke) life force want their seconds. A creepy preacher named Kane (Julian Beck), who is dead but walks amongst the living has designs on Carol Anne and again lays waste to the Freelings in order to get what he wants.
Thankfully, Taylor (Will Sampson), a helpful shaman, knows a thing or two about bad spirits and with help from the returning spiritualist Tangina (Zelda Rubenstein), they’ve got a real fight on their hands. Because no matter what, the one thing we’ve learned form the Poltergeist films is that love (in any form) conquers all.
I’ll give POLTERGEIST II this; it at least tries to replicate Spielberg’s magic touch, but director Brian Gibson (who would go on to success with the Tina Turner biopic WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?) just isn’t up to the task. Everything is ham-fisted or too overly earnest that it becomes tedious. The characters feel like characters not real people.
This is further aggravated by the shoehorned storytelling that just seems desperate as opposed to clever. Anywhere something creepy can be crammed in it is yet the Freelings seem to brush off the supernatural or rather accept it to such a degree that it’s laughable.
The special FX don’t help either. There’s some dreadful compositing and some chintzy make-up FX. It all feels rather phoned in and rushed.
It’s not all bad, Beck is truly creepy as Reverend Kane (Sadly, he died shortly after the film finished) and there are a few cool moments, but not nearly enough to justify the film. The best thing I can say about POLTERGEIST II: THE OTHER SIDE is that it’s not nearly as soul-sucking as POLTERGEIST III.