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Horror On Blu-ray Review — They’re Back! ‘Poltergeist II: The Other Side’

‘Poltergeist II’

Alright, listen, creepy old men done correctly are always scary, period! There is nothing more terrifying than a decrepit old man sinisterly smiling at the camera and or protagonist. It’s a bone chilling fear that plays on the comfort we feel with the elderly. Our grandparents are the most loving people in the world, they protect us from everything going on in the outside world. Now imagine that they are planning to kidnap you and take you to some ghostly world where you’ll probably experience nothing more than pain for the rest of eternity. This “idea” we have of protection is stripped away in the best way possible in the film we are going to discuss today. Julian Beck does the stripping … probably should’ve worded that better. Well, THEY’RE BACK, and by “they” I mean Scream Factory, and they just so happen to put out a new release of Poltergeist II: The Other Side. Let’s take a look!

In 1982, Tobe Hooper and Steven Spielberg released the haunting classic Poltergeist. It was a paranormal epic that paved the way for film today and the best part is that it was presented as more fantasy than horror. It played on the fears we hold most dear by manipulating clowns, TVs, and don’t even get me started on the mirror scene … makes me shudder just thinking about it. Flash forward 4 years and the Freeling family are back.

We open on a large excavation site that we discover to be the Freeling’s former residence. Everyone’s favorite psychic Tangina Barrons (Zelda Rubinstein) sends her Native American homeboy Taylor (Will Sampson) to investigate the cave. Through his exploration he discovers that the “Beast” is now a resurrected, psychotic preacher (Julian Beck) hell-bent on tracking down the adorable Carol Anne (Heather O’Rourke). The Freelings, now located in Arizona with Diane Freeling’s mother, are getting used to their calm life … with no television. Little do they suspect that their lives are going to be changed once again!

Honestly, the stories behind the Poltergeist films have always interested me more than the films themselves. The horrible things that happened to a few members of the cast are both terrifying and fascinating. The series itself never really peaked my interest in years past. It wasn’t until I re-watched them recently for this that I discovered how good they really are … well at least the first two but that’s a story for another day.

This is a good film with a few phenomenal scares. Julian Beck creeps me out to this day. That sinister smile as he slowly, yet gracefully lunges towards whoever he’s speaking to and spine-chilling. Another notable moment happens at the expense of Steven (Craig T. Nelson) and his swallowing of what I like to describe as a mutant tequila worm. Poltergeist II had fantastic visual effects that are really brought out in this new 2K transfer.

Listen, if you’re a horror fan there’s a good chance you’ve seen this so let’s talk about the Scream Factory treatment it receives. As usual with Shout Factory/Scream Factory discs, the film both looks and sounds great. As noted above we get a new 2K scan of the interpositive that truly make things pop. Also, and no surprise here, the disc is full of new features. There are two new audio commentaries, both bring different things to the table. First up is a Q&A style interview with writer Michael Grais. Most of this discussion is based more around Grais history in the industry, however, he does touch on alternate scenes and the process of writing this sequel. The second commentary is incredibly enlightening and is performed by “superfan” David Furtney. He takes us on an extensive journey through the behind the scenes of Poltergeist II. Next up we have a feature with that includes the only cast member that returned for this release, Oliver Robins. This interview was okay but it really brings attention to the fact that no other cast member was involved with this release … alright alright, I know those other cast members can really only be brought down to Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams but dammit … I wanted their thoughts! Two more notable featurettes include “The Spirit World” which is an interview with the SFX designers of the film and “Ghosts of Giger” which is a 20 minute look at artist H.R. Giger’s contributions to the film. I had no idea of Giger’s influence and involvement until this release, and it was truly eye opening.

This is a sequel that doesn’t get the respect that it deserves. I can’t praise Julian Beck more for his performance as Rev. Henry Kane; whenever he is on screen the scene is most definitely his. If you’re a fan of the series you can do no better than picking up this Scream Factory release. It’s the best looking release of the film and includes a few fun features that can keep you entertained for a couple of hours. I recommend this for any fan of the series. Thanks for reading and I’ll be back soon with a look at Scream Factory’s Poltergeist III!