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Poltergeist II - 10/31 Days of Halloween

We're one third of the way through our month-long fright fest now, and today was a rough one for me. Whether its the flu spreading around or a delayed bout of con crud, I began feeling rather rough this afternoon and slept for about five hours. When I woke up, I sat down and watched today's movie, Poltergeist II: The Other Side.

The film opens with two Native American medicine men performing a ritual in the desert, then follows one of the men (named Taylor to the deserted Cuesta Verde housing development, where Tangina Barrons (the medium from the first film) is assisting in an excavation beneath the Freeling family's swimming pool. Taylor ventures into the cave and finds a grisly mass grave. When we join the Freelings, they are living with Diane's mother while trying to pick up the pieces of their life in the aftermath of the events a year ago. Strange things begin happening once again after Diane's mother passes away in the middle of the night and a strange preacher begins stalking Carol Anne. Taylor joins the Freelings in an attempt to prepare them for epic battle that is to come.

I went into this one thinking I hadn't watched it before, but quickly remembered that I had. Not exactly a good sign, is it? I mean, it couldn't have been that memorable. Julian Beck's unsettling portrayal of the evil Reverend Kane quickly brought it all flooding back to me, however. Unfortunately, that's really all this sequel has going for it. There are a few decent jump scares, and the corpse effects are frightening enough, but toward the end of the movie, the special effects spiral down into some campy stop-motion and blue screen/matte painting sequences that I just couldn't take seriously. I feel the team behind Poltergeist II tried too hard to top the original, and as a result, it falls short.

Probably the most cringe-worthy moment goes to Carol Anne when she utters the film's tagline "They'rrrrre back!" It just felt forced, and a bit too self-aware to be taken seriously. God, maybe I'm still not feeling well... I'm taking 80s horror sequels seriously!

My verdict: Skip this sequel and stick to the much more memorable and frightening original.

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