DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Brian Gibson
Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams, Beatrice Straight, Dominique Dunne, Oliver Robins, Heather O'Rourke
Writing Credits:
Michael Grais, Mark Victor

They're back.

The Freeling family have a new house, but their troubles with supernatural forces don't seem to be over.

Box Office:
$19 million.
Opening Weekend
$12.700 million on -unknown- screens.
Domestic Gross
$40.996 million.

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French DTS 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
German DTS 5.1
Italian DTS 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Castillian DTS 5.1
Turkish Dolby Digital 5.1
Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 91 min.
Price: $19.99
Release Date: 9/13/2011

• Trailer


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Poltergeist II [Blu-Ray] (1986)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 14, 2011)

With 1982’s Poltergeist, we found a rare beast: a satisfying “PG”-rated horror movie. And one that worked for family audiences, to boot.

A sequel wouldn’t appear for another four years, and it’d lose two major contributors from the first flick: director Tobe Hooper and producer/co-writer Steven Spielberg. However, 1986’s Poltergeist II: The Other Side did bring back much of the cast plus two of the three writers, so it had a shot to be a decent sequel.

Or maybe not. After the events that terrorized them and destroyed their home, the Freelings – husband Steven (Craig T. Nelson), wife Diane (JoBeth Williams), and children Robbie (Oliver Robins) and Carol Anne (Heather O’Rourke) move in with Diane’s mother (Geraldine Fitzgerald). Carol Anne’s grandmother senses supernatural powers in the girl – the same abilities she possesses.

Or possessed, as Grandma departs the mortal coil. She stays in contact with her relatives, though, as she manages to communicate with them beyond the grave. She lets them know they can’t outrun a new menace, one that terrorizes them at their new home. Paranormal specialist Tangina Barrons (Zelda Rubinstein) sends her counterpart Taylor (Will Sampson) to help the Freelings fight the renewed menace, one represented by Reverend Henry Kane (Julian Beck), a creepy old dude who wants Carol Anne for his evil means.

The genius aspect of the original Poltergeist stemmed from the way it introduced horror to an ordinary family in an ordinary home. It used suburbia as an active part of its backdrop and allowed the viewer to feel more like a participant than usual; this was a story that fit within our normal lives.

Other Side essentially abandons that conceit, and I can’t blame it for that. Unless it takes a different family and essentially remakes the first movie, it can’t give us characters with the same level of naivete as the Freelings had back then. Clearly they’re going to be affected from what they experienced, and the sequel should show that.

Unfortunately, this posits the Freelings as more standard horror flick victims, and the story can’t find much of interest to do with them. Indeed, it takes a silly twist when it leaves the “ordinary family” we got to know and tells us that all the women in Diane’s family are clairvoyant. Not only is this a ridiculous choice, but also it doesn’t matter much in terms of the overall narrative; Other Side could lose this development and work just as well.

At least I think so, but given the movie’s lack of coherent narrative, it’s hard to say. This one takes on more of a psychological bent, but it doesn’t manage to go much of anywhere with it. The script hints at different elements but never articulates them well, so we’re left with a fairly random assortment of scares.

And not particularly good scares, at that. The film tends to echo aspects of the first movie and borrows from a mix of other sources as well. None of these deliver more than rudimentary frights. Other Side does provide a genuinely creepy villain via Reverend Kane, though he doesn’t get enough to do to really capitalize on his potential.

Granted, I’m really not sure what path the Poltergeist series could’ve taken to live up to the first movie. Plopping the same family in more supernatural adventures seems like such a stretch that in creative terms, the series would’ve been better off if it quit after one movie. I admire the fact that Other Side doesn’t simply remake its predecessor, but that doesn’t mean it turns into something enjoyable or memorable.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B+/ Bonus D-

Poltergeist II: The Other Side appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. The film came with a surprisingly terrific transfer.

Sharpness always looked good and was often great. Only marginal softness ever interfered with the presentation, as the flick was consistently accurate and distinctive. I witnessed no issues with jaggies or moiré effects, and edge haloes remained absent. Source flaws were a virtual non-issue; grain stayed natural, and no specks, marks or other defects affected the image.

Though many mid-80s flicks came with ugly colors, the film’s palette appeared pretty peppy. The movie opted for natural tones, and these appeared full and rich. Blacks were deep and tight, and shadows looked clear and well-defined. I felt totally pleased with this appealing presentation.

As for the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it worked nearly as well as the image. The soundfield came to life during the movie's many horror sequences. Those boasted good use of the side and rear speakers to engulf us with thunder and other dramatic elements. The mix also came with nice stereo music and a fine sense of place.

Audio quality held up well over the last 25 years. Speech occasionally was a little reedy, but the lines mostly came across as concise and clear. Music was vibrant and full, while effects showed solid accuracy and definition. Though the track didn’t match up with modern mixes, it seemed quite strong for its era.

In terms of extras, we get the film’s trailer - and that’s all she wrote!

The movie world is littered with sequels that fail to match up to their predecessors, and Poltergeist II: The Other Side falls into that category. As a film, it’s not a total disaster, but it lacks much reason to exist and never turns into a satisfying horror flick. The Blu-ray lacks supplements but delivers surprisingly strong picture and audio. Though this isn’t much of a movie, at least it looks and sounds terrific on Blu-ray.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.5714 Stars Number of Votes: 7
1 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main