Scream Factory Review: POLTERGEIST II

Scream Factory continues to roll out an interesting set of home video releases with their collector's edition of POLTERGEIST 2: THE OTHER SIDE.  I find POLTERGEIST to be one of the more interesting franchises as it happens to squeeze in all sorts of crazy material in its short three film series (the 2015 film serves more as a remake and doesn't fit into any kind of continuity with the others).  The first film gave audiences an intimate look at an all American family who succumb host to a series of paranormal experiences, including the communication their daughter, Carol Anne, has with "the TV people."  After discovering that their home was built on a cemetery where the bodies were never removed, they manage to escape, but as we know now, the horror has only begun.  

The Freeling family has moved away from their terrifying past and their main fear now is more financial related.  Steven (Craig T. Nelson) no longer sells real estate and is attempting to sell vacuums to not much success.  They now live with Diane's (JoBeth Williams) mother who reveals to Carol Anne that they both share a clairvoyant gift that's clearly genetic.  There are hints that Diane might possess this as well, but the truth is yet to be revealed.  Carol Anne meets a tall stranger named Reverend Kane (Julian Beck), a not so human who seems to have some sinister intentions for her.  His link to the Freelings could possibly be connected to the discovery of an underground tomb beneath the Freeling's home.  This discovery introduces us to Taylor (Will Sampson), a Native American shaman who is an associate of Tangina (Zelda Rubinstein) and feels responsible for keeping the Freelings safe. 

For those who have not seen the movie, yes, there is a lot going on here.  THE OTHER SIDE steers away from the traditional haunted house story of the first film and goes into some surreal yet familiar territory.  Carol Anne continues to have the strongest connection with the spirits, but this time the family is more prepared.

I remember growing up and watching what must have been an "E! True Hollywood Story" episode about the making of the franchise before I ever even saw any of the movies.  There was plenty of behind-the-scenes drama including the tragic deaths of a couple of the cast members.  Scream Factory includes a couple new commentaries here and some new interviews as well.  For those unfamiliar with the making, David Furtney's commentary is a must listen. Furtney serves as webmaster of the POLTERGEIST fan site, therefore giving more of an unbiased insight into the development of the movie, including scenes that were moved to different sequences and alternate dialogue.  What's really intriguing (especially if you love juicy gossip like I do) is that sometimes his track drops out and there's dead air.  It comes off as surprising as he is very well spoken and clearly has a love for the material, but if you do enough research on the internet, then you just might find the missing pieces.  Writer/producer Michael Grais also provides an commentary that feels more technical and is a great alternative to Furtney's if that's not your thing.  That's the beauty of choosing two completely different subjects as commenters as they provide different insight into the same film, delivering plenty of information for fans.  For me, the biggest selling point of this release is the new 2K scan. The movie was originally released in 1986 and doesn't look thirty years old at all.  I've only seen this movie once a few years ago, but you can see the upgrades when watching any of the vintage making of documentaries included here.  We also get treated to a new interview with the grown up Robbie, Oliver Robins, and a look at photos and artwork from H.R. Giger, who I had no idea until now was involved with the special effects.  Rewatching the movie now, I can totally see it.

I'm confident fans of the franchise will be excited for this release as some new retrospectives from the players involved and a new look provide a fresh experience into THE OTHER SIDE.

Jovy Skol