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Title: Poltergeist II: The Other Side (Collectors Edition)

Movie: :3stars:
Video: :4stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras: :3.5stars:

HTS Overall Score:75

Sequels are a tough thing. Sometimes you get an “Empire Strikes Back” or “The Godfather Part 2”, and other times you end up with “The Matrix Reloaded” or “Jaws 2”. Especially when you don’t have the same writers or directors coming back for 2nds. 1982’s “Poltergeist” was a genuine smash hit, and one of the scariest movies of my young childhood addiction to horror films. I’m usually NOT a fan of supernatural horror (I tend to lean towards slashers and monster movies), but “Poltergeist” and “The Exorcist” are two movies that defy my dislike of the sub-genre. Written by Steven Spielberg and directed by “Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s” Tobe Hooper, “Poltergeist” had just that right amount of family film, with creepy ghosts to do the body good. 4 years later both Spielberg and Hooper are gone, leaving Brian Gibson (who’s only claim to fame at that point was the mediocre “Breaking Glass”) in directorial charge for this go around. “Poltergeist II: The Other Side” is the definition of a guilty pleasure. It’s not a bad movie, nor a good movie either, but still manages to be a middle of the road film that entertains nonetheless.

It’s been a year since the Freeling family were visited by ghostly spirits and lost their house in the subsequent battle. Now they’re out visiting Diane Freeling’s (JoBeth Williams reprising her role as mother) mother due to the house loss and living fairly normally (well, naturally being a bit leery of TVs). However, the spirits aren’t done with the Freeling family yet. Little Carol Anne (Heather O’Rourke) is showing signs of clairvoyance once more, and the family are sucked right back into the spirit world. On one side of the spiritual divide is the evil Reverend Kane (Julian Beck) who has come back from the other side to pull Carol Anne back with him, and on the other is an Indian medicine man named Taylor (Will Sampson) who is willing to help the Freeling family do battel with the forces of darkness.

No battle is ever that easy though, and the demonic reverend Kane is not willing to just shuffle off to the other side without his prized little girl. Steve Freeling (Craig T. Nelson), despite the horrific and unexplainable events of the first film, is still reticent to believe everything and tries his best to fight back in a physical sense. It takes the constant attacks of the “good” reverend and his dead followers to break down his defenses and let Taylor help him in protecting his family with “other” forms of combat.

“Poltergeist II: The Other Side” ties directly into the original story by heading back to the site where their old house used to be. The crazy old lady from the first (Zelda Rubinstein) has been excavating there since the Freeling family left and uncovers a mass grave where a religious zealot (Rev Kane) had led all of his follows into a century or so back and then let them all die. It seems that this force has been awakened after the events of “Poltergeist” and is bent on dragging them back into the NetherRealm with him. Beyond that, the plot gets stretched a little bit thing with your typical ghost movie where the big bad evil ghost is trying his best to take the innocent young girl. Julian Beck as Kane is easily the standout portion of the film, as his skeletal frame and wonderfully evil mannerisms make for a creepy and repulsive villain. There’s no hiding the fact that he’s the bad guy from the first 5 minutes of the movie, so I don’t feel bad in letting you know that his conniving and twisted use of scriptures makes for one of the best visual villains of the movie.

While “Poltergeist II: The Other Side” starts out fairly well, it starts to sink a bit in the third act. The build up to whom Kane is and his influence on the family is more inventive and interesting than you would expect, and the addition of the Indian mysticism adds a different flair to the film instead of having it just copy the exact nuances of the first film. The third act is where the film runs out of steam and we’re left with an ending that feels WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY too happy-happy-joy-joy for a true horror film. It leaves an almost saccharine sweet taste in your mouth with the final “other side” battle and the eventual rescuing of Carol Anne (poor girl just can’t keep out of the other side it seems).


Rated PG-13 for frightening images and grisly content

Video :4stars:
Both this and “Poltergeist III” were given brand new 2K masters from the interpositive and look pretty stinking good for being old, low budget, 80s horror flick. Despite some small specks on the print and a few scenes where softness creeps in, the image is in really great shape. Colors have been redone a bit for this release and you can see that there is less of red push and more towards a color tone to this release (in comparison to the rosy warmth of the old MGM disc). There’s a bit more blue to the push and you can really see this when Carol Anne and her father travel to the other side the most. Special effects have bene cleaned up a tad (I can’t tell the old matte lines as easily that’s for sure) and the detail is quite impressive. Especially during the brightly lit outdoor sequences such as when Kane comes to visit the Freeling family for the first time with Carol Anne watching him approach. All sorts of fine details are prevalent (some that you don’t want being soon too) and the accompanying black levels and contrast levels seem quite pleasing to the eye.

Audio :4stars:
Once again Scream gives us the option of two audio choices. The first being the 5.1 DTS-HD MA track that we all expected, and the second being the obligatory 2.0 DTS-HD MA lossless track as well. The 2.0 mix is nice, but once again I tend to lean towards the 5.1 mixing. To my ears, after A/Bing back and forth between the discs, this sounds like the exact same mix that was on the MGM Blu-ray disc from a few years back. Again, NOT a bad thing, as the MGM disc had a great audio mix and this one is just more of the same. Dialog is strongly replicated in the center channel, while the mains take the brunt of the special effects in the track as well as the ambient noises. Surrounds get a hefty dose of the score as well as some of the more chaotic events when the spirits come and wreak havoc on the house. LFE is tight and clean, but fairly restrained (which isn’t surprising considering the budget and era it was filmed in). The low end is well placed, though, and adds a good complimentary effect to many of the crashes and bumps in the night.

Extras :3.5stars:

• NEW Audio Commentary with writer/producer Michael Grais
• NEW Audio Commentary with Poltergeist II webmaster David Furtney
• NEW Robbie's Return – an interview with Oliver Robins
• NEW The Spirit World – an interview with special effects designers Richard Edlund, Steve Johnson and Screaming Mad George
• NEW Ghosts of Giger – a look at the contributions of artist H.R. Giger featuring rare photos and illustrations and an interviews with Giger's friend and agent Les Barany and special effects designer Steve Johnson, Richard Edlund and Screaming Mad George
• Vintage Featurettes: They're Back: The Making of Poltergeist II, Monster Shop and Ghostmakers: The Magic of Poltergeist II
• Theatrical Trailer
• TV Spots
• Still Galleries (behind-the-scenes photos, stills, posters and script pages)

Overall: :3.5stars:

decent amount of fun to be had with the movie. Especially with Scream’s attention to detail in assembling a whole host of extras and a new 2K transfer that easily outstrips the older MGM Blu-ray disc. Comparing both side to side it’s no contest. Great cover art (completely reversible too), a nice slipcover, tons of extras, and a nice new video transfer with supervised color timing. What’s not to love? Personally, I have both this AND the MGM discs for both sequels and find that the Scream Factory ones are by far the best buy. Even for an upgrade thanks to the new master and host of special features. Well worth it for fans, and a solid watch for horror fans who aren’t introduced to the series. Recommended as a cheesy fun watch.

Additional Information:

Starring: Craig T. Nelson, Heather O'Rourke, JoBeth Williams
Directed by: Brian Gibson
Written by: Mark Victor, Michael Grais
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DTS-HD MA 2.0
Studio: Scream Factory
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 91 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: January 31st, 2017

Buy Poltergeist II: The Other Side (Collectors Edition) On Blu-ray at Amazon

Recommendation: Recommended for Cheesy Fun

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