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  • Writer's pictureMr. Pat

Poltergeist II: The Other Side

Updated: Jul 19, 2021

Year 9, Review 16. The 264th review overall.

Today was a pretty good day, but I was under the impression that it was Tuesday. Sadly, it’s actually Wednesday and that means my vacation keeps on slipping away no matter how much I don’t want it to... Anyways, after some enjoyable salisbury steaks, Dear and I settled in and watched...

Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986). Amazon Prime.

When a movie’s a hit, you just know a sequel is on the way, especially when it’s a relatively cheap-to-make horror movie. This one takes place about a year after the events of the first one. The Freelings are now living at the grandmother’s house because their house just kind of disappeared. There’s a funny bit when Craig T. Nelson’s character Steve is arguing with the insurance company because the company says since the house vanished, it’s not destroyed, it’s just “missing”, therefore it doesn’t have to pay anything. It’s an absurd thing to even thing about, but I can imagine it’s not too far off what an insurance company would say.

Despite that, the Freelings are mostly happy and things are normal until the grandmother passes away from natural causes. Shortly after that, Carol Anne sees a terrifying preacher following her at an outdoor mall. To make matters worse, people are passing through him like he’s not even there. It’s so wonderfully creepy, especially when he starts to sing to her to calm her down until her mom gets there. Later, Reverend Kane shows up at their house and he ups the creepy factor by 100. Carol Anne is sitting in the yard and it starts raining, but she’s so tranfixed on him, she just sits there as he gets closer. It takes Carol Anne’s mom to yank her to the porch just as Kane gets close. He’s just a spectacularly creepy villain. He has a very slow way of speaking but with a hint of malice hidden behind his southern accent. Just the very sight of him is enough to give you the shivers. Heather O’Rourke, who plays Carol Anne burst into tears the first time she saw him.

There’s a reason for that though. The actor was going through stomach cancer at the time and was very near death during filming. He knew his time was just about up, but he wanted to do his job, so he didn’t tell anybody and just walked around looking like a living skeleton. Seriously, go watch the scene where he goes up to the Freeling’s house, it’s terrifying. He’s the type of person who, if you see walking down the road, you switch sides so you can avoid him. He’s easily the best and scariest part of the movie. Full disclosure, I watched the third one before this one because I heard about the character being in that one and didn’t know he was a recurring baddie. I also got a store brand version of the character because I didn’t realize it was a new actor playing him in the third. To his credit, he was still good, just not as good.

It’s an entertaining movie. It does do the sequel thing and dives deeper into the backstory of what’s haunting the family. Normally I’d be grabbing my torch and pitchfork, but the unnecessary backstory did bring us Kane, so let’s call it a wash. It doesn’t do too much different than the first, and as far as the hauntings go (not including Kane), nothing is as scary as the scene with the clown doll from the first one. One thing it does do different is it introduces a new character, an indian shaman named Taylor, who may recognize from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. He was sent by Tangina, the psychic with the very high voice from the first one, to help the family out. He’s mainly there to say cryptic things and act as a guide, but he is involved in my favorite exchange in the movie. He’s telling Steve his car is angry and will fix it for him. Steve comes home and the car is worse than ever so he tells Taylor to not touch it, which leads to, “Car’s still angry, eh?”

“Angry?! That car is pissed!”

It’s a silly little bit of dialogue, but it was set up from earlier and it made me smile. The movie as a whole is good but not as scary as the first one. There are no iconic moments like the clown or the skeletons coming up from the pool, but it did have one that made me feel what the character did. The younger son, Robbie, had braces, and while going through his nightly routine, his braces... come alive, I guess. They’re wiggling all around and eventually wrap him in a cocoon of metal. I had braces twice in my life, once was a normal reason, the second was to fix an unfortunate basketball injury, and it brought back a lot of unpleasant memories.

It wasn’t as scary as the original, but to its credit, it did make me uneasy after it was over. Becca and I went upstairs to bed and I had to make one more trip downstairs to shut off the TV and get the computer. I actually hesitated for a second before going downstairs because all the lights were off. I wanted to keep that feeling, so I didn’t turn them on as I braved the darkness! Then when I got back up, Becca tossed me Lincoln’s bottle to take down, but this time Bodie came with me and the feeling was gone.

7 Dr. Chainsaws!

Post script... When I watch a movie I enjoy seeing what critics thought of these movies, and my goodness, Siskel and Ebert are such joyless stuffed shirts when it comes to horror movies.

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