Lacking the effective scares of its predecessor, Poltergeist II: The Other Side attempts to provide additional backstory for some of the events that occurred in the first film. While Poltergeist II brought back most of the original cast (save for Dominique Dunne, who was murdered shortly after filming on the first movie was completed), the material doesn’t feel particularly new and fresh. There are certainly some gorgeous moments in the later parts of the film, but for the most part, director Brian Gibson is unable to sustain any sense of real suspense.
About a year after their near fatal run-in with the supernatural, the Freeling family seem to be adjusting to life in Phoenix, Arizona quite well. Unfortunately, little Carol Anne (Heather O’Rourke) is showing signs of possessing clairvoyant abilities and it appears “The Beast,” now having taken on the physical form of Reverend Henry Kane (Julian Beck) isn’t done with the little girl. After an encounter with Kane, the Freeling’s get caught up in a whirlwind of strange encounters with angry ghosts. His goal remains the same as before: to take hold of Carol Anne’s soul. Thankfully, medium Tangina Barrons (Zelda Rubinstein), sends a Native American Shaman (Wil Sampson) to protect the Freeling clan after discovering the hidden cave in the ground where Kane and his followers died, understanding that Kane would doggedly pursue the family, wherever they fled. However, even with the Shaman’s help, the Freeling’s must band together to fight the evil spirits that would tear them apart.
Screenwriters Michael Grais and Mark Victor were among those returning for the sequel. while they were able, for the most part, you maintain the character traits established in the first film, they ripped off some of the fright gags from the first film. One that sticks out in my mind–in this film, Robbie Freeling’s (Oliver Robins) braces expand and basically try to engulf him. in the original film, this same sort of thing happens, but the offending object is a tree. When all is said and done though, the entire narrative is just rather boring. Genuine scares are very rare and any sense of real tension is fleeting.
The heartfelt message is ridiculous but sweet. It must also be said that Poltergeist II: The Other Side is worth a look just to see the performance of Julian Beck. As Reverend Kane his harrowing face and imposing figure make him the perfect villain versus the tight-knit, rather innocent Freeling family. So, while I can’t call this film a complete dud, it’s nothing to write home about either.
Presented in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, this new 2K interpositive transfer is a definite improvement over the 2011 Blu-ray release. The image appears more realistic and lifelike. Sharpness and detail is impressive throughout, with a minimal level of grain. Blacks are inky, while whites never appear blown out. Colors look natural and appropriately vivid. Skin tones look natural throughout and the print is clean.
The 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack does a good job with the material. The surround sound is rather front focused, with ambient sounds in the rears. Action sounds have been nicely layered, bringing a bit of heft to the proceedings. Dialogue is clean, crisp and clear throughout.
English SDH subtitles are included.
The following extras are available:
- Audio Commentary with Writer / Producer Michael Grais: In this Q&A style commentary with an interviewer, Grais discusses his life in the industry, work on the first film, the sequels development, casting, directing, etc. Grais also shares some interesting anecdotes from his time on the set.
- Audio Commentary with Poltergeist II Webmaster David Furtney: This guy knows the film and provides loads of information about script changes, the production, changes made in the editing room and more.
- Robbie’s Return (HD, 14: 25) In this interview with child actor Oliver Robins, he discusses his experience working on the film and his relationship with producer Steven Spielberg and co-star Heather O’Rourke. He also spends time recalling the difficulties of wearing braces for the shoot.
- The Spirit World (HD, 22:09) Special effects designers Richard Edlund, Steven Johnson and Screaming Mad George discuss their practical effects work on the film.
- Ghosts of Giger (HD, 21:02) A look at artist H.R. Givers contribution to the film. The piece also includes an interview with his friend and agent Less Barany.
- They’re Back: The Making of Poltergeist II (HD, 6:15) This vintage making-of-featurette includes cast and crew interviews, focusing on special effects and design.
- Monster Shop (HD, 2:45) This vintage featurette takes a look at the monster related items.
- Ghost Makers: The Magic of Poltergeist II (HD, 6:28) Another vintage piece focused on the effects with cast and crew interviews and behind-the-scenes footage.
- Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:22)
- TV Spots (HD, 2:04) Four vintage TV spots.
- Stills Gallery (HD, 6:12) An extensive collection of production stills and posters.
- Poltergeist II Script (HD, 10:17) Pages from the fourth draft of the shooting script are presented.