Poltergeist III (1988)
What’s It About: Those wacky poltergeists are at it again! Kane has somehow followed Carol Anne to a skyscraper in Chicago where she is staying with her aunt and her family because both Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams had enough common sense to stay the hell away from this script.
Here are some of my observations as I watched the film:
- Poor Heather O’Rourke. Did she really need to make this film? Did the producers have to torture this little girl more with such a shitty sequel?
- I usually don’t have much bad to say about Tom Skerritt or Nancy Allen but both are really fucking terrible in this.
- I think the writers really wanted to combine the high rise aspect of Die Hard with the spookiness of Poltergeist.
- How is Carol Anne even functioning socially? She has been abducted by supernatural forces TWICE!! She literally been to a different plane of existence, possibly Limbo TWICE!!!! She should be in a mental ward chewing on twigs.
- It’s amazing the level of acting downgrade this film has compared to the first two. Carol Anne’s doctor is retched. In fact this guy hasn’t acted since this film.
- And why did Zelda Rubinstein agree to do this?!
- So the Freelings house was built on an old Indian burial ground which caused the poltergeists. In the second movie, Kane tries to get Carol Anne to help his people who lived near the Freeling’s house to go to the netherworld. Yet, Kane follows Carol Anne to Chicago to use her for his own purposes again. Did the producers really think Kane was a good enough villain to use twice? Carol Anne should’ve been haunted by ghosts of old dead gangsters from the 30s since she’s in Chicago. Maybe Al Capone wanting his loot back. THAT would’ve been an awesome idea for a Poltergeist sequel!
- OK enough of the mirror spooks! Almost every scene has a mirror gag for a bad scare effect.
- Was the See N Spell toy a bit old and antiquated by the time this movie was made? Is this a lame nod to E.T.?
- According to imdb.com trivia, Carol Anne’s name is uttered a whooping 121 times.
- Why does Kane keep saying that “We need you to lead us into the light?” to Carol Anne? I think she knows that from the last movie.
- I guess it’s instinctive to run from a pursuer but you’d think Carol Anne would know running from ghosts is futile.
- So Tangina now has a special poltergeist-warding necklace (looks just a cheap turquoise necklace one would find in Kohls). Where was this necklace in the first two movies? Did she just acquire it recently between movies? She should’ve mailed it to Carol Anne immediately.
- The scene where Tangina is killed and Donna rips through Tangina’s corpse to escape the other side was actually quite decent.
- Tom Skerritt and Nancy Allen are taking this whole haunting crisis thing with Carol Anne remarkingly well. He even trusts Tangina’s necklace will work and celebrates their supposed victory even though Carol Anne is still missing.
- How exactly did Kane gain control of the building? And if he can control or haunt a building why can’t he have power outside of it? Makes no sense.
- “I have the knowledge AND THE POWAAA!” Yikes Zelda that was terrible.
- So Tangina just shows up again as a ghost and tells Kane to leave them alone because she can lead him into the light. That’s. Fucking. All. Crisis averted.
- Poor Heather O’Rourke. She made three movies, all Poltergeist movies. She dies before this one is finished and when she’s saved at the end you never even see her face. So sad.
Is It Actually Scary: While the first two had scenes that still creep me out (the clown scene, the tequila demon) this one is devoid of all good scares. Even Kane’s makeup is different and less intimidating than how it was in the second movie.
How Much Gore: Not really gory at all. Even the girl ripping through Tangina is lacking blood because Tangina’s corpse is more of a shell, like a cicada shell.
Best Scene: Easily, the scene when Donna rips through the corpse of Tangina to escape the netherworld. If I can take away anything well done in this film it would be this scene.
Worst Scene: Anything else. Really any scene involving Carol Anne’s therapist. That guy is the absolute worst actor I’ve ever seen. But considering everyone’s acting in this film that’s not saying much. Heather O’Rourke tried her best though. But if I had to pick a scene in particular it would have to be the rushed and non-sensical finale where Tangina returns and tells Kane that she can simply help him into the light which was just a few yards behind him and they walk on through to the other side. Then Carol Anne reappears and because Heather O’Rourke was dead at this point in filming they had to cover the stand-in’s face. Plus Tangina has that laughably bad delivered line.
Any Nudity: I think nudity would’ve actually made this film way worse.
Overall: I remember hating this film when it first came out. As a fan of the first two I was greatly disappointed at the way they handled this installment, which was a fun-house of smoke and mirrors with some badly acted Kane walking around saying Carol Anne’s name a 1000 times. The first sequel’s Kane was one of the best villains in my opinion and he totally had an emotional tie or weight to Carol Anne in getting her to help him and his “lost” people. This one lost that emotional weight entirely and made Kane more or less a pedophile, stalking this little girl in her jammies in a high-rise building. The acting is abysmally awful from pretty much everyone especially the adult actors. I don’t quite understand what the producers were going for exactly. On the one hand it seems they wanted to try something new with having a skyscraper building haunted but really lets be honest, its still just a haunted house with multiple floors. And what is with skyscrapers in the late 80s? Die Hard, Poltergeist 3 and Gremlins 2 all had their plots set entirely in a sky-rise. Besides the height and labyrinthine aspect of skyscrapers there’s nothing scary about them. They are boring and plain. There’s a reason people work in them because companies are in them. And don’t you think we’ve had enough of the same little girl being terrorized by ghosts? She barely aged since we were first introduced to her in the original. They could’ve casted someone new as Carol Anne as a mid-to-late teen and gone that route. Instead its still just a boring little girl. If it hadn’t been for O’Rourke dying I think the producers would’ve kept on going with O’Rourke as the lead in a new sequel every few years. I really think they drove this franchise into the ground with this one regardless of the untimely death of O’Rourke.
Score: 3 Shattered Mirrors (out of 10)