Poltergeist III – USA, 1988 – reviews

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[Total: 10   Average: 1.5/5]

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Poltergeist III is a 1988 American supernatural horror film. It is the third and final entry in the Poltergeist film series. Writers Michael Grais and Mark Victor, who wrote the screenplay for the first two films, did not return for this second sequel; it was co-written, executive produced and directed by Gary Sherman (Dead & BuriedDeath Line aka Raw MeatPhobia), and, after a troubled production and re-shoots, was released on June 10, 1988, by MGM.

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The film was panned by critics, and was a box office disappointment. Sherman has said that although he is proud of portions of the movie (particularly the creative use of mechanical “in camera” effects instead of the traditional optical effects often seen in movies of that genre), it is the least favourite of his films.

Heather O’Rourke and Zelda Rubinstein were the only original cast members to return. O’Rourke died four months before the film was released and before post-production could be completed. It was dedicated to her memory.

On February 24, 2017, Scream Factory release a Collector’s Edition Blu-ray.

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Buy Blu-ray: Amazon.com

  • Audio commentary with director Gary Sherman (new)
  • Audio commentary with Poltergeist III webmaster David Furtney (new)
  • High Spirits – Interview with screenwriter Brian Taggert (new)
  • Reflections – Interview with actress Nancy Allen (new)
  • Mirror Images – Interview with special effects creator John Caglione, Jr. (new)
  • Alternate ending (subtitled)
  • Theatrical trailer
  • TV spots
  • Still galleries (behind-the-scenes photos, stills, posters, and script pages)

Plot:

The Freeling family has sent Carol Anne (Heather O’Rourke) to live with Diane’s sister Pat (Nancy Allen) and her husband Bruce Gardner (Tom Skerritt). Pat and Bruce are unaware of the events of the first two films, just noting that Steven was involved in a bad land deal. Along with Donna (Lara Flynn Boyle), Bruce’s daughter from a previous marriage, they live in the luxury skyscraper of which Bruce is the manager.

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Carol Anne has been made to discuss her experiences from the first and second films by her teacher/psychiatrist, Doctor Seaton (Richard Fire). Seaton believes her to be delusional; however, the constant discussion has enabled Rev. Henry Kane (Nathan Davis) to locate Carol Anne and bring him back from the limbo he was sent into at the end of the second film.

Not believing in ghosts, Doctor Seaton has come to the conclusion that Carol Anne is a manipulative child with the ability to create mass hysteria and to perform mass hypnosis, making people believe they were attacked by ghosts. Also during this period, Tangina Barrons (Zelda Rubinstein) realises that Kane has found Carol Anne and travels cross-country to protect her…

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Buy Blu-ray: Amazon.com

Reviews [click links to read more]:

‘Sherman’s sensible approach to the material was to eschew the ILM overload that marked the series up to that point and opt for (much cheaper) in-camera optical effects and low-tech illusionary. At its best, Poltergeist III recalls that surreal mix of DIY ingenuity and narrative ineptitude that mark some of Lucio Fulci’s lesser efforts. At its worst, well, it’s just another soulless, hacky-tacky horror sequel.’ Eric Henderson, Slant Magazine

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‘A low-budget sequel which tries, and fails, to make a virtue out of adversity by substituting cheap mechanical effects for the expensive light and magic of Parts I and II … A couple of choice moments cannot compensate for a threadbare scenario bereft of attention-grabbing visual effects.’ Nigel Floyd, Time Out

‘The storyline is more cohesive than Poltergeist II but it never reaches the heights of the original movie. It’s eerie to watch the movie knowing that O’Rourke was seriously ill whilst making it and the fact she died before it was released makes it even more difficult to watch in places. Poltergeist III is a good little horror that works well as a standalone movie and as a final chapter to the much-loved horror trilogy.’ Pip Ellwood, Entertainment Focus

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Buy on Blu-ray with Poltergeist II from Amazon.com

Poltergeist III (1988) is one of the worst sequels to a big budget franchise in the history of Mankind. So messed up is this messy mess of a demonic ghost STILL plaguing the Freeling family, the lifeless and pointless Poltergeist (2015) remake is better than PIII.” Jeff Gilbert, Drinkin’ & Drive-In

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Cast and characters:

  • Tom Skerritt as Bruce Gardner
  • Nancy Allen as Pat Gardner
  • Heather O’Rourke as Carol Anne Freeling
  • Zelda Rubinstein as Tangina Barrons
  • Lara Flynn Boyle as Donna Gardner
  • Richard Fire as Doctor Seaton
  • Nathan Davis as Reverend Henry Kane
  • Kipley Wentz as Scott

  

3 Comments on “Poltergeist III – USA, 1988 – reviews”

  1. Indeed. Gary Sherman tried something more focused on fear and high-rise closeness but it didn’t work.

    And are you forgetting The Howling sequels which have to be the WORST ever?

    1. I actually think many of the Howling sequels are so bad as to be entertaining. Poltergeist 2 (with the exception of the late Julian Beck) made me angry. I mean “rip the video store apart” angry.

  2. It is however far superior to 2, which I still think is the worst sequel ever made. I might have enjoyed this one better if they dumped the highly obnoxious psychiatrist character, or toned him down a bit, And poor Heather. may she rest in peace.

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