Thursday, December 2, 2010

#118. Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986)

DVD Synopsis: The sinister supernatural forces return in this heart-pounding otherworldly thriller filled with "jolting, state-of-the-art special effects" (Leonard Maltin). The Freeling family (JoBeth Williams, Craig T. Nelson, Heather O'Rourke) settles into a new home following the annihilation of their former residence by terrifying visitors from the netherworld. But the spirits of the dead are still hell-bent on luring the family's clairvoyant daughter Carol Anne to "the other side"!

Admittedly, I ignored Poltergeist II: The Other Side when it was released back in 1986. Being such a fan of the first Poltergeist movie, I was afraid a sequel would only shit on my fond memories of the original. Well, turns out I had nothing to worry about. 

Most of the original cast returns, and they do a good enough job of slipping back into character (Craig T. Nelson hams it up in some of the early scenes, but does eventually settle down). What made Poltergeist II: The Other Side a worthy entry in the series, however, had nothing to do with the old; this film is all about the new, the various characters it introduces that take the story to an all new level. Geraldine Fitzgerald has a brief but effective appearance as the grandmother who sheds some light on exactly why Carol Anne is so 'special', and Will Sampson plays a Native American spiritualist who does what he can to help the Freeling family through their most recent crisis. Yet as good as these two additions are, the most fascinating (not to mention the creepiest) character in Poltergeist II: The Other Side is Kane, the evil spirit that manifests itself in the body of a kindly old preacher. Julian Beck brings real evil to the role of Kane, and steals damn near every scene he appears in. Kane gives Poltergeist II: The Other Side it's unique stamp, and in doing so transforms the film into much more than the continuation of a good story.

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Dale Goodridge said...

I watched this again recently. Julian Beck in his last ever role and what a performance.

The film is kind of slow and takes a long time in warming up until Kane appears to talk to Carol Anne. It is still one of the creepiest characters and performances in a horror film for me.

The fact it all takes place in full daylight and consists of not much more than a conversation and a couple of strange sightings of him really shows how Beck, who was part of the 'Living Theatre' in NY who wanted to 'shock the audience out of complacency' really did just that.

It puts you on edge. A frail, actually really ill in real life man scares you senseless. Without this character and his shadow being all over the movie, it would have been not half as good as it is.

Dave B. said...

@Dale: I absolutely agree...Julian Beck was, without question, the highlight of this film. Whereas the ghosts rattled your nerves in the original, it's his Kane who brings the terror in this 2nd installment.

Thanks, and have a good one!