Underrated Horror – Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986)

I could be wrong in writing this article or maybe I think too much of the 1986 sequel to Poltergeist. I guess we will find out.  Bases off of things like Rotten Tomatoes, it has a really low score, not rare when it comes to horror, but wow RT score of 20% and 35% audience score.

This is going to be a new kind of segment for The Horror Syndicate. I’m going to look at some movies I love that get absolutely no respect or just not enough eyes on the film. Poltergeist II just sprang to mind last night when we finished our show. When joining the greater horror community and launching this site, I expected to hear more about this movie. I’ve been wrong.

Let’s go back to 1986, I was 6 years old and visiting family in Evansville Indiana. My cousin Aaron is about 10 years older than me and he wanted to see Sylvester Stallone’s Cobra and he took me. We had some time before the movie began and as a kind of ritual, we’d drop in on a movie that was already playing. The movie, Poltergeist II: The Other Side.

At the time, I had seen a couple of Elm Street movies, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and part 2 and a few others, Re-Animator. But…We walked in as Craig T. Nelson is attacking JoBeth Williams and ends up puking out a worm looking thing. I remember looking at my cousin who’s face was filled with excitement and I was terrified. But, what happened next sent me out of the theater. The worm thing turned in to a kind of person. It was so grotesque and the nastiest thing I’d seen in my 6 years on this planet.

Eventually my mom, a confirmed horror nut, rented it and I got the chance to see the movie from the beginning in the comfort of my own home, rather than the dark theater. I loved it, so my mom did the only things she could do, she showed me Poltergeist (1982). They both became family favorites among my cousins and my self. So much we planned ideas for a Poltergeist III. Our version was way different then what actually came out in 1988, which is also an underrated movie.

Why do I like this sequel?

In Poltergeist (1982) you kind of become a part of the Freeling family and with great character development in that film, it is nice to revisit the Freelings.

The story gives more to the original move that it takes away from it. The spiritual elements of this one are amped up, we have the entire family together on the other side, somewhat of a Possession thanks to Tequila and some great genuine horror scenes, Robby and his braces come to mind.

There are two main additions to the cast in Poltergeist II, Will Sampson as Taylor, the spiritual Native America and the Sinister Reverend Kane played by Julian Beck. Beck steals the show in Poltergeist II, his creepy nature toward Carol Anne and the messages he sends to the family. Beck was dying of stomach cancer at the time of filming and ad morbid as it sounds, I think the pain he was in added to his performance.

Poltergeist II is about family.  This is probably one of the reasons I love these movies, at the heart of the horror, it is about family.  Sure it may be outdated a little, but the scares are there, the story and especially the cast are very good.  I say give it another shot.  It is hard to follow a movie like Poltergeist, a movie that was so damn good, it feels damn new perfect in some ways.

One last thing, it bothers me that the Poltergeist movies seem to be more well known for their “curse” rather than the contents of the films.  You could probably ask anyone and they know what the Poltergeist curse is.  They may not get the people who’s lives tragically died after each film, but I am sure many know the curse, even without possibly seeing the movies.

What movie should I do next?  I am sure there are plenty out there that are better than what critics and negative people say.  Thanks for reading.

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About Ray Marek III 699 Articles
I have been watching horror films since I was 6 years old. The story, one Saturday night, my mom and I were watching movies and she fell asleep on the couch. We had the channel set on HBO and the movie we were watching ended and the next one, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge. This was some time in 1986. I watched then entire film, I was sitting on the edge of my seat. When my mom woke, she asked me what just ended and I told her, “Freddy”. That was all I talked about for weeks and finally she broke down and rented more horror films for me. She rented, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre part 2, Re-Animator, Friday the 13th VI: Jason Lives and Halloween II. I watched all and fell in love with horror films forever. 5 Horror Films to Watch Inferno (1980) A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) The Beyond (1981) Friday the 13th VI: Jason Lives (1986) Horror of Dracula (1958)