POLTERGEIST II: THE OTHER SIDE (1986) Reviews and overview

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Poltergeist II: The Other Side is a 1986 supernatural horror film directed by Brian Gibson from a screenplay by producers Michael Grais and Mark Victor. A sequel to Poltergeist, it features the return of the original family, who are once again confronted by a spirit trying to harm their daughter, Carol Anne.

The movie stars Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams, Heather O’Rourke, Julian Beck, Oliver Robins (Don’t Go to Sleep), Will Sampson (Orca) and Zelda Rubinstein (Anguish; Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon).

Prolific genre composer Jerry Goldsmith (Planet of the Apes; Alien; The Omen films) provided the film’s score.

The film received mixed reviews from critics and did not gross as much at the box office as its predecessor, although it was still financially successful, taking over $40 million in the US against a $19 million (estimated) production budget. It was followed in 1988 by Poltergeist III. A novelisation was written by James Kahn and published by Ballantine Books in 1986.


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Shout Factory released a Collector’s Edition Blu-ray on February 24, 2017. The special features are:

  • Audio commentary with writer/producer Michael Grais (new)
  • Audio commentary with Poltergeist II webmaster David Furtney (new)
  • Robbie’s Return – Interview with actor Oliver Robins (new)
  • The Spirit World – Interview with special effects designers Richard Edlund, Steve Johnson and Screaming Mad George (new)
  • Ghosts of Giger – a look at the contributions of artist H.R. Giger, featuring rare photos and illustrations and interviews with Giger’s agent Les Barany and special effects designers Steve Johnson, Richard Edlund and Screaming Mad George (new)
  • They’re Back: The Making of Poltergeist II vintage featurette
  • Monster Shop and Ghostmakers: The Magic of Poltergeist II vintage featurette
  • Theatrical trailer
  • TV spots
  • Still galleries (behind-the-scenes photos, stills, posters, and script pages)



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A year after the events of Poltergeist, Cuesta Verde, the Freelings’ neighbourhood, is being evacuated and turned into an archaeological paranormal dig, centred around the spot where the Freelings’ home stood before it imploded.

The excavation leads to the discovery of an underground cave. Its existence is revealed to psychic Tangina Barrons (Zelda Rubinstein), who tells a friend of hers, Taylor (Will Sampson), a Native American shaman. After investigating the cave for himself, Taylor realizes that Kane (Julian Beck), a deceased, insane preacher, has located Carol Anne and goes to defend her…



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‘This sequel, sans Spielberg but obedient to his spirit, simply fails to regenerate the original’s gut-grinding fears that make you dread ever scratching a spot again. And the contribution of Giger‘s design work has only added one near-unwatchable sequence.’ Derek Adams, Time Out


‘There are also a few times in the film where some editing (rumor has it that nearly 40 minutes were cut from the film) is painfully obvious … By themselves, it doesn’t mean much, but altogether, it’s very distracting. Plus a lot of things seem very abrupt, such as the battle with the worm-monster, and the “Other Side” sequence. You’d think that the section of the film that dealt with the film’s subtitle would last more than 75 seconds, but you’d be wrong!’ Horror Movie a Day


‘Seems like a string of special effects held together by a far-fetched storyline with an unsatisfying sticky-sweet ending.’ Nina Darnton, New York Times


Ghanian hand-drawn poster

Cast and characters:

  • Craig T. Nelson as Steve Freeling
  • JoBeth Williams as Diane Freeling
  • Heather O’Rourke as Carol Anne Freeling
  • Oliver Robins as Robbie Freeling
  • Zelda Rubinstein as Tangina Barrons
  • Will Sampson as Taylor
  • Julian Beck as Rev. Henry Kane
  • Geraldine Fitzgerald as Jessica Wilson

Filming locations:

California and Arizona

Our rating:

MOVIES and MANIA rating:

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