Poltergeist II / Poltergeist III (Double Feature)

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POLTERGEIST 2 POLTERGEIST 3

As sequels go, Poltergeist II has the advantage of maintaining most of the initial movie's cast (although the absence of the actress Dominique Dunne, a murder victim, is not explained). It's still not enough to turn this bleak outing into a passable scary film. The scared Freeling household has moved from their haunted house, however the bothersome ghosties are not doned with them yet. The lame scares consist of a series built around Craig T. Nelson ingesting a demon worm from a tequila bottle and then regurgitating it. Much more frightening is the wizened face of theater legend Julian Beck, who looks like a foreboding old individual with bad news for the Freelings: "Yer all gon na pass away!"

Poltergeist III recruits only blonde cherub Heather O'Rourke (who passed away prior to the movie's release) and dwarf psychic Zelda Rubinstein from the first movies. The action has shifted to a Chicago high-rise, where little Carol Anne's otherworldly gift is being studied (Tom Skerritt and Nancy Allen play the uncle and aunt she boards with). Director Gary Sherman aims to get some concepts going with mirror images, however the bargain-basement environment and the restricted special impacts undercut the film at every turn. -- Robert Horton

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