Jamie and Patrick are playing with their favorite toy dinosaurs. They’re mother stops by and pats them lovingly on the head. They’re father stoops down and spends some moments joining in on the imaginary fun. Jamie strains to see his father’s face but it’s clouded by an image of Scott Bakula. But the joy of this dino adventure is enough and they continue to play together: Patrick, Jamie, and their imposter dad Scott Bakula. There is a knock at the door and there are two men in suits there. They are talking to Scott Bakula. They are pointing at a sheet of paper that says that all their measurables are off the charts. General Knowledge: 100th percentile. Gymnastics: 100th percentile. Martial Arts: 100th percentile. Dance: 100th percentile. Philosophy: 100th percentile. The list goes on and on. They frown at the list. Dinosaurs: 100th percentile is nowhere to be found. Not a list they care about. The men tell them they are going away, going to have everything because of this list. They cry. They hit these men with their dinosaur toys and try to run away.
Jamie shakes his head at the memory and jerks his arm away from Patrick and grabs one of the toy cars. “Michael!” he calls and the groundskeeper turns. “Why are these toys here? Whose toys are these?” he asks, his voice shaking with intensity. Michael chuckles a little. “Ah, so that’s what you’re sniffing around about. You’ve heard the stories,” he says but starts a little when he realizes they don’t know what he’s talking about. “You’re saying you’ve never heard the story of how this place is haunted?” Patrick and Jamie look at each other and shakily murmur, “A gh-gh-gh-ghost?” Michael nods. “Not just one ghost,” he continues, “Two.” That’s right! We’re watching not just one ghost film, but two. And they’re some big ones. We are tackling the two very poorly received sequels to Poltergeist, Poltergeist II: The Other Side and Poltergeist III… no subtitle for three, guys? That’s a shame. How about Poltergeist III: Tower of Terror? Let’s go!
Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986) – BMeTric: 42.3; Notability: 64
StreetCreditReport.com – BMeTric: top 2.8%; Notability: top 1.2%; Rotten Tomatoes: top 10.7%; Higher BMeT: Howard the Duck, Troll, King Kong Lives, Maximum Overdrive, Raw Deal, Solarbabies, Poltergeist II: The Other Side; Higher Notability: Jumpin’ Jack Flash, Howard the Duck, The Golden Child; Lower RT: Solarbabies, 8 Million Ways to Die, King Kong Lives, Band of the Hand, American Anthem, Sorority House Massacre, Deadtime Stories, Nobody’s Fool, Firewalker, The Clan of the Cave Bear, Armed and Dangerous, TerrorVision, Dangerously Close, Club Paradise, Quicksilver, Soul Man, Howard the Duck, Tai-Pan, Maximum Overdrive, The Delta Force, and 4 more; Notes: The Notability is shockingly high on this one, but the cast is kind of stacked too, so I guess it makes sense. Jumpin’ Jack Flash has been on my radar forever. The old Whoopi films from the 80s are something else.
Leonard Maltin – 2.5 stars – The Freeling family is terrorized again by otherworld creatures. Another pointless sequel made palatable by some jolting state-of-the-art special effects and a still-very-likable family. Be warned that an actor receives billing as The Vomit Creature.
(This does seem, potentially, to be a series that would be mostly a display for impressive special effects and not much else. It is pointless though, the first film was wrapped up in a neat bow.)
Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjhr8EdGyD0/
(Oh snap, first shot, the big baddy … Kane? Wait, was this guy in the first film? No? What is happening!? That being said, pretty solid teaser trailer all said.)
Directors – Brian Gibson – ( Known For: What’s Love Got to Do with It; The Juror; Still Crazy; Breaking Glass; BMT: Poltergeist II: The Other Side; Notes: Worked for the BBC initially, then it appears he did a bunch of music videos. This followed right after a series of music videos by Styx. Won and Emmy for The Josephine Baker Story.)
Writers – Mark Victor and Michael Grais – ( Known For: Poltergeist; Death Hunt; Future BMT: Marked for Death; BMT: Cool World; Poltergeist II: The Other Side; Notes: Kind of odd they didn’t seem to get a credit for Poltergeist III. They wrote a trilogy of UFO TV Movies in 1991.)
Actors – JoBeth Williams – ( Known For: Poltergeist; The Big Chill; Kramer vs. Kramer; Stir Crazy; The Big Year; Fever Pitch; In the Land of Women; The Dogs of War; Teachers; Timer; Alex & The List; Desert Bloom; Memories of Me; Endangered Species; SGT. Will Gardner; The Last Film Festival; Barracuda; Me Myself and I; Welcome Home; Just Write; Future BMT: Wyatt Earp; Switch; American Dreamer; BMT: Jungle 2 Jungle; Poltergeist II: The Other Side; Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot; Dutch; Notes: Her husband was the director of Miss Congeniality 2 among other BMT films. She was nominated for an Oscar for On Hope, a short film.)
Craig T. Nelson – ( Known For: The Devil’s Advocate; The Incredibles; The Proposal; Incredibles 2; Poltergeist; Blades of Glory; The Killing Fields; Book Club; Wag the Dog; Soul Surfer; Gold; All the Right Moves; Stir Crazy; The Osterman Weekend; Silkwood; The Company Men; Private Benjamin; Turner & Hooch; The Family Stone; And Justice for All; Future BMT: Troop Beverly Hills; Get Hard; Action Jackson; BMT: Poltergeist II: The Other Side; The Skulls; Notes: It’s Coach! Races cars. Was nominated three times for Coach, and won once.)
Heather O’Rourke – ( Known For: Poltergeist; BMT: Poltergeist II: The Other Side; Poltergeist III; Notes: Sadly died during post-production of Poltergeist III from complications related to Crohn’s Disease.)
Budget/Gross – $19 million / Domestic: $40,996,665 (Worldwide: $40,996,665)
(That’s good enough. Horror films just print money as usual. So no wonder they went straight for the third. I do wonder if you could get a direct sequel off the ground, recasting O’Rourke’s character as an adult.)
Rotten Tomatoes – 20% (11/55): They’re back, but this hollow sequel retains none of the charm or suspense that made the original Poltergeist such a haunting specter.
(Yeah, that makes sense. But when does any sequel? I guess something like The Conjuring at the very least kept the same entertaining level of zaniness during its sequels. So it is possible.)
NY Times Short Review: Plot trouble.
Poster – Ghosty Spooktacular II: The Other Sklog
(Ha, what? This poster is crazy. Did they finish it? I’m going to give them an Incomplete.)
Tagline(s) – They’re back. (B)
(I can’t actually give this a particularly good grade, but I also can’t blame them for putting away the easy lay-up. Just solid fundamentals here.)
Keyword(s) – Citizen Kane
Top 10: The Silence of the Lambs (1991), Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Goodfellas (1990), Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983), The Terminator (1984), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), Full Metal Jacket (1987), Aliens (1986), Groundhog Day (1993)
Future BMT: 75.0 Look Who’s Talking Now (1993), 71.9 Teen Wolf Too (1987), 61.0 Pet Sematary II (1992), 59.6 Suburban Commando (1991), 58.5 Rocky V (1990), 56.4 The Karate Kid Part III (1989), 55.6 Ringmaster (1998), 54.2 Who’s That Girl (1987), 53.2 Made in America (1993), 52.4 Blank Check (1994), 51.5 The Pest (1997), 50.5 Getting Even with Dad (1994), 50.0 Smokey and the Bandit II (1980), 49.9 3 Ninjas (1992), 49.1 My Girl 2 (1994), 48.3 My Stepmother Is an Alien (1988), 47.9 Three Men and a Little Lady (1990), 46.7 House Party 3 (1994), 46.4 Zapped! (1982), 45.8 Sidekicks (1992)
BMT: Batman & Robin (1997), Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987), Troll 2 (1990), Super Mario Bros. (1993), RoboCop 3 (1993), Grease 2 (1982), Caddyshack II (1988), Bio-Dome (1996), Mac and Me (1988), Anaconda (1997), Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace (1996), Double Team (1997), Fair Game (1995), Leprechaun (1993), Body of Evidence (1992), A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child (1989), Cool World (1992), Poltergeist III (1988), Wild Orchid (1989), Sliver (1993), Chairman of the Board (1997), Red Sonja (1985), Nothing But Trouble (1991), Ishtar (1987), Toys (1992), Weekend at Bernie’s II (1993), Shanghai Surprise (1986), Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988), Exit to Eden (1994), Fire Down Below (1997), Color of Night (1994), Graveyard Shift (1990), No Holds Barred (1989), The Lawnmower Man (1992), Arthur 2: On the Rocks (1988), Maximum Overdrive (1986), Fire Birds (1990), Cocoon: The Return (1988), Jingle All the Way (1996), Raw Deal (1986), Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986), Crocodile Dundee II (1988), Hudson Hawk (1991), Navy Seals (1990), Critters 2: The Main Course (1988), Hot to Trot (1988), Rambo III (1988), Terminal Velocity (1994), Meatballs Part II (1984), Cobra (1986), Ernest Goes to Jail (1990), Hard to Kill (1990), Conan the Destroyer (1984), The Golden Child (1986), Another 48 Hrs. (1990), Hard Rain (1998), Under the Cherry Moon (1986), Mannequin (1987), K-9 (1989), Days of Thunder (1990), Blame It on Rio (1984), No Mercy (1986), Senseless (1998), The Wizard (1989), The Marrying Man (1991), Sleeping with the Enemy (1991), The Cannonball Run (1981), Stone Cold (1991), Tango & Cash (1989), Lock Up (1989), The Good Son (1993), 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992), Dangerous Minds (1995), Young Guns II (1990), Event Horizon (1997), Dutch (1991), Police Academy (1984), Road House (1989)
Best Options (Horror): 64.2 Poltergeist III (1988), 61.0 Pet Sematary II (1992), 44.3 DeepStar Six (1989), 42.3 Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986), 34.6 Leviathan (1989), 32.2 The Seventh Sign (1988), 31.3 Student Bodies (1981), 28.1 Deep Rising (1998), 27.4 The Phantom of the Opera (1989), 26.1 The Bride (1985), 25.0 Bad Dreams (1988)
(Yeah we hit up a good one here. There was an off-the-board alternative, specifically we could have hit up the second and third Amityville and gone down that freight path of six non-qualifying direct-to-video sequels. We chose not to.)
Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 14) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: JoBeth Williams is No. 2 billed in Poltergeist II: The Other Side and No. 3 billed in Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot, which also stars Sylvester Stallone (No. 1 billed) who is in The Expendables 3 (No. 1 billed) which also stars Jason Statham (No. 2 billed) who is in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (No. 1 billed) which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 3 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => (2 + 3) + (1 + 1) + (2 + 1) + (3 + 1) = 14. If we were to watch The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 13.
Notes – The only family member absent from the film is Dana, who according to the script is off at university, but a scene explaining away her absence was never filmed. Dominique Dunne was murdered by her boyfriend John Thomas Sweeney (who later changed his name to John Maura and disappeared) shortly after “Poltergeist (1982)” premiered. Ultimately, no mention is made of Dana in the final film, or of her being in college. It was decided by the filmmakers to retire the character and not recast her out of respect for the deceased actress and her family.
The partially grown “Vomit Creature” was performed by stuntman Noble Craig, a triple-amputee who lost both legs, an arm, and an eye while serving in the Vietnam War.
Heather O’Rourke was so afraid of Julian Beck (Reverend Kane) the first time she saw him that she burst into tears.
Julian Beck’s gaunt appearance is the result of the stomach cancer that would claim his life.
The film had an original running time of 131 minutes before being edited down to 91 minutes. Some have surmised that MGM rushed production and ordered the cuts, e.g the final battle with Kane lasts all of two minutes. Zelda Rubinstein in particular was furious about this, as she felt her best scenes were removed from the final cut.
H.R. Giger provided the special effects designs. Giger created several designs but only two made it into the film, albeit briefly. Some books on his art report that Giger was “very unhappy” with how his designs were translated to the film.
The exorcism was performed by Will Sampson, who was a real-life shaman for “several different groups” before his death in 1987. Studio security was instructed to leave the set unlocked and unguarded so Sampson could return in the middle of the night to perform the exorcism.
Several scenes that appeared in press stills and promotional posters were cut from the film, e.g. one in which Kane tries to get into the house a second time and confronts Tangina (this omission angered Rubinstein as she felt that was one of her best scenes); one in which Steve and Diane see a flying toaster during a breakfast scene, etc.
The film was at one point to have been filmed in 3D; several scenes such as the appearance of the Beast and the flying chainsaw were filmed to take advantage of the process. This idea was eventually abandoned after seeing the failures of other gimmicky 3D horror films of the decade, including Friday the 13th Part III (1982), Jaws 3-D (1983), and Amityville 3-D (1983), which was a previous flop from MGM.
Awards – Nominee for the Oscar for Best Effects, Visual Effects (Richard Edlund, John Bruno, Garry Waller, Bill Neil, 1987)
Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress (Zelda Rubinstein, 1987)