Poltergeist II: The Other Side and Poltergeist III get the Collector’s Edition treatment.
Stephen Spie ‐ err, Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist remains one of the best haunted house movies of all time thanks to a fun and exciting script, characters we care about, and some still-memorable scares and effects. The two sequels that followed up four and six years after (respectively) aren’t held in nearly as high a regard. Happily for fans though that hasn’t stopped the fine folks at Scream Factory from unleashing fully loaded Collector’s Editions of both films.
Poltergeist II: The Other Side
The Freeling family has been through a lot, what with the angry spirits invading their home, abducting their youngest, and making life a bit messy in general. They’ve even lost their television privileges, so yeah, they’ve suffered. But it’s been a year (four in real time, but who’s counting), and life must go on, so they’re living in a new home and trying to put the past behind them.
Their old neighborhood meanwhile ‐ home to ancient bones ‐ has been turned into a desolate archaeological site, and it’s there where diminutive psychic Tangina (Zelda Rubinstein) discovers the source of an evil being that’s still in pursuit of young Carol Anne (Heather O’Rourke). Its name is Kane (Julian Beck), and it won’t rest until it has the little girl’s soul.
Writers Michael Grais and Mark Victor return, but it’s clear that something is missing with their sequel. At its most abstract the absent ingredient is a sense of wonder and magic ‐ this just isn’t a very fun movie. The humorous exchanges between family members that helped us fall for them in the first movie are replaced here by dialogue that rarely finds a laugh or tugs at our heart. And not for nothing, but the wonderful JoBeth Williams spends the vast majority of her screen-time screaming, and that’s a waste of talent and charm.
Director Brian Gibson (The Juror) manages some creepy beats, particularly those involving Kane, but he’s not able to create much in the way of atmosphere or momentum thanks to the repetitive nature of the script. The Native American threads never really tie together with Kane’s all that well, and it feels far more generic overall. One area that succeeds though is with the creature effects. H.R. Giger is behind the designs, and his vision is brought to life by some of the field’s best practical effects creators. We care less about the family’s troubles, but we’re happily distracted by some cool monsters.
Scream Factory’s Collector’s Edition Blu-ray features a new 2k scan and comes loaded with extras including trailers, still gallery, the shooting script, and the following special features:
- *NEW* Robbie’s Return [14:25] ‐ Oliver Robins talks about his experience making the sequel, the differences between this and the original, and more.
- *NEW* The Spirit World [22:09] ‐ Special effects designers Richard Edlund, Steve Johnson, and Screaming Mad George share their memories about working on the film’s numerous effects.
- *NEW* Ghosts of Giger [21:02] ‐ The famed Swiss artist’s contributions to the film’s creature designs are discussed by Johnson, Edlund, and Giger’s agent.
- They’re Back: The Making of Poltergeist II [6:15]
- Monster Shop [2:45]
- Ghostmakers: The Magic of Poltergeist II [6:28]
- *NEW* Commentary with writer/producer Michael Grais
- *NEW* Commentary with Poltergeist II webmaster David Furtney
Poltergeist II: The Other Side (Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray]
Realizing that Carol Anne (Heather O’Rourke) is the source of all their problems, the Freeling family ships her off to live in the big city with relatives. Uncle Bruce (Tom Skerritt), Aunt Pat (Nancy Allen), and cousin Donna (Lara Flynn Boyle) welcome her with varying degrees of open arms, but it’s not long before evil follows the girl up into her new high-rise home.
Director Gary Sherman’s greatest genre contribution remains Dead & Buried, but for a much-maligned sequel this is not a bad little movie. The cast helps as all three of the newcomers above are familiar and fun faces ‐ Skerritt in particular is always a welcome presence ‐ and the change of scenery from suburbia to a high-tech high-rise offers new opportunities for set-pieces and creative terrors.
And that’s exactly where Sherman succeeds. In addition to the new environment, the film makes a bold choice in sticking solely with practical effects including the use of very slick camera tricks that take full advantage of a myriad of mirrors. It’s incredibly effective in making evil entities appear and disappear without the use of optical work, and it’s a fun change of pace from the previous films’ more familiar effects.
Sadly the film is best known for being O’Rourke’s last before her death, but if nothing else this special edition (as well as part II above) acts as a well-produced and loving tribute to the young actress. The new extras touch on her passing with Allen’s interview in particular talking about the experience.
Scream Factory’s Collector’s Edition offers a new 2k scan, a trailer, still gallery, script, and the following boat-load of extras:
- *NEW* High Spirits [16:02] ‐ Writer Brian Taggert recalls his friendship with director Gary Sherman and the film’s production.
- *NEW* Reflections [12:15] ‐ Genre favorite Nancy Allen talks about making the film, how Tom Skerritt is the only actor she’s ever fought with, and the passing of young Heather O’Rourke.
- *NEW* Mirror Images [12:47] ‐ Special effects creator John Caglione Jr. discusses the film’s varied effects sequences.
- Alternate ending [2:50] ‐ There’s no audio available, but the footage includes subtitles taken from the script.
- *NEW* Commentary with director Gary Sherman
- *NEW* Commentary with Poltergeist III webmaster David Furtney
Poltergeist III (Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray]