Although an improvement thematically over the first film (the childlike awe of the original has been replaced by a very adult fear of impotence), POLTERGEIST II is terribly disjointed and dramatically unfulfilling. The forces of evil that demolished the Freeling house in POLTERGEIST have
followed the family into this film in search of the blonde, blue-eyed little Carol Anne (Heather O'Rourke). The Freelings have fled to Arizona to live with Gramma Jess (Geraldine Fitzgerald), who shares with Carol Anne the psychic ability to "see things others cannot see." Soon after Gramma Jess
dies, a soft-spoken Indian named Taylor (Will Sampson) pays a visit to the family, explaining that he has been sent by the clairvoyant Tangina (Zelda Rubenstein) to protect them from any more evil spirits. Steve (Craig T. Nelson), now an alcoholic, resists further contact with the supernatural,
but Taylor tells them that they must stay and fight off the evil power that is attempting to destroy them. When the family is visited by the deathly looking Rev. Henry Kane (brilliantly played by Julian Beck), the sunny skies turn dark and it is obvious that the enemy has arrived for Carol Anne.
Although the film moves along at a rapid clip, it is poorly constructed and haphazardly executed. Reportedly, several additional family scenes wound up on the cutting room floor, leaving the film to lurch from one special-effects sequence to the next with little character insight in between. The
confrontation between the characters played by Nelson and Beck (the latter is the founder of the avant-garde "Living Theater") is the very core of the film, and its one redeeming moment. Despite his very brief appearance (filmed almost entirely in close-up) Beck's bone-chilling presence dominates
the film. It is a tribute to Beck's considerable talents that in his all-too-limited role he manages to create an embodiment of evil so terrifying as to burn his image into the viewer's brain long after the rest of POLTERGEIST II is justifiably forgotten. Famous Swiss painter H.R. Giger, creator
of the monster in ALIEN, designed the "Vomit Creature," which is seen ever so briefly as it slithers across the floor. The special effects received an Oscar nomination.
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- Released: 1986
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: Although an improvement thematically over the first film (the childlike awe of the original has been replaced by a very adult fear of impotence), POLTERGEIST II is terribly disjointed and dramatically unfulfilling. The forces of evil that demolished the Fr… (more)