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Up front, I have to admit I donít think that POLTERGEIST II: THE OTHER SIDE is a particularly spectacular horror movie, but it is one that I like despite its flaws. For me, the filmís biggest appeal may lay in the performance and appearance of Julian Beck, who is outstanding as the filmís resident baddie, Reverend Kane. Beck was gravely ill while making POLTERGEIST II, and his gaunt, deathlike appearance is something that could never be achieved through special effects makeup. Every frame in which Beck appears has an unsettling quality, which enhances the originality deprived sequel. Of course, POLTERGEIST II also has a guilty pleasure quality, thanks to the presence of Will Sampson as the Indian shaman Taylor.

The plot of POLTERGEIST II finds the Freeling family still suffering from the aftereffects of their initial encounter with the supernatural. Although they have moved far away from the Questa Verde community, where their youngest daughter Carol Anne (Heather O'Rourke) was abducted by a malevolent force, evil comes calling once again in the form of a preacher named Kane. Diminutive psychic Tangina Barrons (Zelda Rubinstein) sends Taylor to help protect the Carol Anne and the rest of the Freeling clan from Kane, but ultimately, the family is compelled to return to their former home to deal with the essence of evil. The cast of POLTERGEIST II also features JoBeth Williams, Craig T. Nelson, Oliver Robins and Geraldine Fitzgerald.

MGM Home Entertainment has made POLTERGEIST II: THE OTHER SIDE in a 2.35:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. This is certainly the best that POLTERGEIST II has ever looked on home video, with the DVD boasting a sharp and nicely defined presentation. Colors are nicely rendered, without noise or smearing. Blacks appear accurate and the whites are crisp and stable. Shadow detail is very good and the picture produces nice dimensionality. The film element used for the transfer is pretty clean, displaying minor blemished and an occasionally noticeable grain structure. Digital compression artifacts are generally well concealed. The Dolby Digital 2.0 channel soundtrack decodes to standard surround and is pretty effective. Channel separation isnít as good as a discrete soundtrack, but the sound mix is very good for a big budget genre offer from the mid-eighties. The surrounds kick in effectively when required, as well as providing ambience and musical fill. A Spanish language track is also included, in addition to English, French and Spanish subtitles.

This DVD release is my first experience with POLTERGEIST III, and despite every rotten thing Iíve heard about this movie, it isnít as terrible as some folks would make it seem. Of course, that isnít to say that POLTERGEIST III is particularly good either. Some portions of the movie are visually interesting and I do like some of the effects that the director was trying to achieve with the film- too bad he didnít have a script to back up the filmís interesting imagery. The plot of POLTERGEIST III finds Carol Anne Freeling (Heather O'Rourke) staying with her aunt and uncle in their apartment in a Chicago high-rise, when a new incarnation of Reverend Kane comes a calling. As expected, it is Tangina Barrons (Zelda Rubinstein) to the rescue, showing up shortly after the malevolent spirit of Kane. The cast of POLTERGEIST III also features Tom Skerritt, Nancy Allen, Lara Flynn Boyle, Kipley Wentz, Richard Fire and Nathan Davis.

POLTERGEIST III comes in a 1.85:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. Image quality is quite good, with everything appearing crisp and rather well defined. Colors are strong, vibrant and are reproduced without noise or bleeding. Blacks are pretty inky, while the whites are crisp and clean. Contrast is very good, as is shadow detail and dimensionality. Again, the Dolby Digital 2.0 channel soundtrack decodes to standard surround and proves to be of good quality. Directional effects are well implemented for a mid-eighties matrixed soundtrack and the surround channels hold their own. Fidelity is more than respectable, with the music having good presence and the sound effects coming across in a reasonably convincing manner. A Spanish language track is also provided with the feature, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles. Each film is contained on a separate side of the DVD, with the basic interactive menus allowing one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as trailers for both flicks.

POLTERGEIST II: THE OTHER SIDE and POLTERGEIST III may not be the greatest sequels in the annals of horror cinema, but this reviewer happens to like the second film a whole heck of a lot. If you have any interest in POLTERGEIST II: THE OTHER SIDE or POLTERGEIST III, you canít go wrong in picking up these quality presentations, especially when you consider that the double feature can be had for less that the asking price of $14.95.



Poltergeist II/Poltergeist III (1986)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2003 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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