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Title: Poltergeist III (Collectors Edition)

Movie: :3stars:
Video: :4.5stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras: :3stars:

HTS Overall Score:77

And the franchise comes to a close. I waxed on about sequels having a tough time living up to their predecessors, and “Poltergeist III” follows in those footsteps almost to a T. Now, that’s not to say that I don’t have some nostalgic love for the film, and in all honesty, it’s only a SMIDGEON worse than “Poltergeist II: The Other Side”. I do fully admit that number 3 had a much better ending than the 2nd one did though. Something which almost redeems it from being weaker than the 2nd one for the rest of the movie. A box office bomb in 1988, even with the death of young Heather O’Rourke 4 months before the release of the film (poor thing died of an intestinal stricture at 12 years old) fueling some publicity, there was no going forward with the series. Not many people liked the change from the Freeling family to her aunt and uncle, and the obvious plot holes in the script left much to be desired.

It’s been a couple of years since the Freeling family had TWICE had some nasty ghosts visit them. The last time they were there a malevolent spirit by the name of Reverend Kane had haunted them. This time Carol Anne Freeling (still played by Heather O’Rourke) has moved in with her aunt Trish (Nany Allen) and uncle Bruce (Tom Skerritt) in Chicago to live with their family due to her trauma. Even though she WANTs to forget, poor Carol Anne is tormented by her past experiences thanks to the overly harsh counseling from school psychiatrist Dr. Seaton (Richard Fire). Much like Freddy Krueger, the most you think about him, the more power Reverend Kane (now recast by Nathan Davis) gains, and soon he is sticking his nose back into the world of the living so that he and his dead followers can gain control of Carol Anne’s psychic powers once more in hopes of making it to the other side completely.

While Carol Anne is seeing apparitions, Trish and Bruce are having their problems with the building that Bruce runs. Cracks are forming all over the place and ice starts forming as Reverend Kane’s powers grow. Not to mention Carol Anne’s cousin Donna (Lara Flynn Boyle) who just wants to hang out and have a fun time with her friends instead of babysit her little cousin. But, when the parents are away the children will play, so Donna ditches young Carol Anne and heads out for a party. Only thing is, when everyone’s away then the evil Reverend Kane has the perfect opportunity to come out and make his grab for her. Now, the only thing standing between Carol Anne’s eternal damnation and salvation is her aunt and uncle (and of course crazy Tangina, still played by Zelda Rubinstein) doing their best to save the little girl that they love.

There’s a lot of things wrong with “Poltergeist III”. Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams couldn’t be had back so they had to ship off Carol Anne to her aunt and uncle in Chicago to get it done. I PERSONALLY think that Tom Skerritt does a much better job as the father figure than Craig T. Nelson (just a personal thing, I can’t see him as anything but Coach), but a lot of people hated changing up the formula. Then of course there’s the wonderful fun of having everyone being the most ANNOYING person they can possible be. Dr. Seaton is insufferable as the psychiatrist (although he’s meant to be), and Nancy Allen’s douchey attitude towards Carol Anne feels ridiculously forced and awkward as contrasted with how nice she is. Even her last-minute change of heart near the finale feels more like it’s written in out of necessity rather than any emotional conflict has been overcome in her attitude. Lara Flynn Boyle is your jerky teenager, but EVERYONE else in the movie feels like they’re straight out of “Home Alone” in regards to being unlikeable and snotty.

Now, on the other hand, I did like the ending of the film a lot more than the 2nd movie. They sort of copied the ending of the first movie in a sense, but the darker tone and elements of death and sacrifice made for a much darker ending than the saccharine sweet sugary ending of “The Other Side”. The one thing that REALLY cheeses me though is the fact that Julian Beck was recast as Kane. He MADE the 2nd movie with his skeletal look and creepy dialog. Every facial tick and vocal exchange was deliciously evil and creepy. Not so much with Nathan Davis. They got the look ALMOST right, but the voice and the movements just weren’t the same.


Rated PG-13 for frightening images and grisly content

Video :4.5stars:
As with “Poltergeist II: The Other Side” there’s been a new 2K scan of the interpositive and some new color timing that gives us a much-needed increase in quality. I really thought that the MGM Blu-ray for “Poltergeist III” was a very nice catalog title encode back in 2011, but this new remaster is a healthy step up. Grain is more evenly defined and the colors look nice and warm in comparison to the slightly dingy look they had before. Fine detail is very impressive, with many shots looking simply marvelously detailed. Skin tones and contrast levels are well balanced and the black levels only suffer from minimal crush. I did feel the gamma was slightly off, but not enough to really cause a problem unless you’re as nitpicky as I am.

Audio :4stars:
Once again, 5.1 DTS-HD MA and 2.0 DTS-HD MA tracks to choose from, and once again I choose the 5.1 track as my personal favorite. Both are clean and well done, but the added boost of the surround channels make for a more enveloping experience when Kane starts his assault on the poor little girl and her extended family. LFE is deeper and more powerful than before and adds some nice punch to the car explosions and the slamming of the elevator doors shut. The center channels is perfectly legible and clean with strong dialog and the mains are alive with the majority of the track taking place up front with and the surrounds utilizing their duty with the score and a few ambient noises. If I have to hazard a guess, I would say that this is the exact same scenario as “Poltergeist II”, where the mix is identical to the MGM disc, being that I couldn’t detect any major differences between the two tracks after A/Bing them.

Extras :3stars:

• NEW Audio Commentary with director Gary Sherman
• NEW Audio Commentary with Poltergeist III webmaster David Furtney
• NEW High Spirits – an interview with screenwriter Brian Taggert
• NEW Reflections – an interview with actress Nancy Allen
• NEW Mirror Images – an interview with Special Effects Creator John Caglione, Jr.
• Alternate Ending (subtitled)
• Theatrical Trailer
• TV Spots
• Still Galleries (behind-the-scenes photos, stills, posters and script pages)

Overall: :3.5stars:

“Poltergeist III” is definitely a niche film. It has its fans, but it is the weakest of the “Poltergeist” trilogy by just a hair. An awkwardly scripted film with loose ends all over the place, it manages to eek out a cult following for those who loved the characters that came before. The ending is the shining grace to the movie and it is the one thing that makes me give it a 3/5 rating like “Poltergeist II: The Other Side” instead of a 2.5/5 for that reason alone. It’s one of those films where you lose some quality in one area, but gain it in another. Like the previous film, they’ve done a 2K remastering for the video encode which nets us a solid upgrade over the old MGM Blu-ray as well as a host of new extras and some fantastic packaging. Is it a perfect horror film? No, of course not, but it is a cheesy piece of 80s schlock that will go right along with any horror fan’s collection of “Poltergeist”. Recommended as cheesy fun.

Additional Information:

Starring: Heather O'Rourke, Tom Skerritt, Nancy Allen
Directed by: Gary Sherman
Written by: Gary Sherman, Brian Taggert
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DTS-HD MA 2.0
Studio: Scream Factory
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 98 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: January 31st, 2017

Buy Poltergeist III (Collector's Edition) On Blu-ray at Amazon

Recommendation: Recommended as Cheesy Fun

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