Poltergeist III Blu-Ray (Collector’s Edition)
Director: Gary Sherman
Screenwriter: Gary Sherman, Brian Taggert
Cast: Heather O’Rourke, Nancy Allen, Tom Skerritt, Zelda Ruinstein, Nathan Davis
Distributor: Scream Factory
Rated PG-13 | 98 Minutes
Release Date: January 31, 2017
Sent by her parents to live with her Aunt Pat (Nancy Allen of Carrie and RoboCop) and her Uncle Bruce (Tom Skerritt, Alien) in Chicago, Carol Ann (Heather O’Rourke) must face an army of evil spirits led by Reverend Kane (Nathan Davis). The spirits have taken over a 100-story skyscraper to lure Carol Anne to “The Other Side” for good, but the powerful psychic Tangina (Zelda Rubinstein, Anguish) won’t let her go without a fight.
Co-written and directed by Gary Sherman (Dead & Buried), 1988’s Poltergeist III is the latest ’80s horror film to receive the Scream Factory Collector’s Edition Blu-ray treatment. With an already stretched-thin premise in 1986’s Poltergeist II: The Other Side, the hook of this second sequel is basically “Poltergeist, but in luxury high-rise.” Sure, the idea of a haunted skyscraper is cool — a Tower of Terror, if you will — but unfortunately, Sherman and co-writer Brian Taggert (Omen IV: The Awakening) are unable to conjure scares, or anything of interest, really.
It doesn’t help that resident “Creepy Old Fucker” Reverend Kane has been recast with Flowers in The Attic‘s Davis. Sadly, actor Julian Beck, who portrayed Kane in Poltergeist II, passed away shortly after the filming of the sequel, so Davis stepped in to fill Kane’s sinister shoes. Gone is the disarming charm that made Beck’s Kane so deliciously evil; Davis’ take isn’t unnerving so much as it is tiresome. He pops up here and there, in mirrors and dimly lit hallways, as if to say, “Look how scary I am! I’m supposed to be scary! You’re scared, aren’t you!?”
Everyone’s just going through the motions here. Even Nancy Allen and Tom Skerritt, new to the series, are nothing more than stand-ins for Carol Anne’s parents, portrayed in the first two films by JoBeth Williams and Craig T. Nelson. Even Lara Flynn Boyle, who plays Donna, Bruce’s daughter from another marriage, is just a replacement for Carol Anne’s older sister, Dana, played by Dominique Dunne in Tobe Hooper’s original 1982 film.
The incomparable Zelda Rubinstein doesn’t have much to add to the proceedings either, other than a new hairdo that makes her look like a demon-slaying Conway Twitty. Hello demon, nice to see ya. A new character, Carol Anne’s psychiatrist, Dr. Seaton (Richard Fire), attempts to explain Carol Anne’s clairvoyance with science, but every time someone says his name, all I hear is “Dr. Satan” and think of Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses.
Poltergeist III is a sharp drop in quality from the middling Poltergeist II its classic predecessor. Still, Scream Factory has gone all-out in providing a definitive release for Sherman’s underwhelming threequel. This Collector’s edition, on the other hand, maintains the high standard of quality that Scream Factory is known for, with a new 2K scan of the interpositive and exclusive supplements, including separate audio commentaries with Sherman and Poltergeist fan-site webmaster David Furtney, and the usual assortment of trailers, TV spots, still galleries, and script pages.
There’s also three new featurettes: High Spirits, an interview with Brian Taggert; Reflections, an interview with Nancy Allen; and Mirror Images, an interview with special effects creator John Caglione, Jr. Another intriguing bonus is the film’s original/alternate ending. Because O’Rourke passed away before reshoots, a double was used for the film’s finale — which is why you don’t see Carol Anne’s face. This bit of footage reveals that the original ending wasn’t too different, other than a more satisfying death for Reverend Kane. Still, it’s interesting to see and just another example how above-and-beyond Scream Factory goes in producing these high-definition releases.