Poltergeist II: The Other Side
Written by Michael Grais & Mark Victor
Directed by Brian Gibson
JoBeth Williams .... Diane Freeling
Craig T. Nelson .... Steve Freeling
Heather O'Rourke .... Carol Anne Freeling
Oliver Robins .... Robbie Freeling
Zelda Rubinstein .... Tangina Barrons
Will Sampson .... Taylor
Julian Beck .... Kane
A pair of Indian shamans beside a Technicolor campfire conjure up the spirits of the dead. We see the spirits circle and then enter the body of Taylor, the younger of the two, who raises his arms in praise to the heavens before jumping in his decidedly battered blue pickup truck and heading to the suburban town of Cuesta Verde. Here he meets up with Tangina, the miniature psychic, who has been unearthing the evil beneath the old Freeling house and thinks she has found the heart of the matter: wretched corpse-filled catacombs.
The Freelings have moved out, of course, and are now staying with Diane's mother Jessica, who possesses a small psychic ability that was in turn passed on to Carol Anne. After drawing pictures of a tall gruesome man dressed all in black, Carol Anne has ghostly visions of the same man passing through the bodies of other people while out shopping with her mother. When Grandma passes away in her sleep, that same old haunted thunderstorm rolls in from which no good can come. Toys come to life, poltergeists wreak havoc, and Taylor shows up on their doorstep at a crucial moment to bail out the Freelings in their time of need.
The man in black reappears during a rainstorm, introducing himself as Reverend Henry Kane. He attempts to convince the Freelings that Taylor is in fact a dangerous con-man but succeeds only in scaring the hell out of Carol Anne and bumping the Creepy Quotient up by at least 50 percent. Taylor informs them that Cain is the leader of the evil spirits and that his plan is to destroy the family and possess Carol Anne.
When the shit hits the fan, the Freelings take Taylor's advice and return to their old home for an underground "final" showdown with the supernatural bastards.
As far as sequels go, I think this is a pretty damn good one with excellent performances by the entire cast, the excellent character additions of Taylor and Kane (who was strong enough to carry his own film, if the studio had felt so inclined), and a few laughs. We even get to see a bit more of the Other Side (in a moderately cheesy “floating family” scene) as well as the back story on the poltergeists and even a little moral regarding the importance of family somewhere along the way.
All around a good movie, even if the scene involving the son's braces seemed like it would be more at home in a Nightmare on Elm Street flick. If you've seen the first, see the second. But be wary of the third.