Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986)

poltergeist ii the other side poster 1986 movie
6.5 Overall Score
Story: 5/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Some memorable scenes and a few good jumps, creepy preacher

Poor story

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Poltergeist II:  The Other Side

Studio:  Freddie Fields Productions/MGM

Genre(s):  Horror

Release Date(s):  May 23, 1986

MPAA Rating:  PG-13


God is in his holy temple…

Diane and Steve Freeling (JoBeth Williams and Craig T. Nelson) are still recovering from the horror that almost killed them and destroyed their home.  Living with Carol Anne (Heather O’Rourke) and Robbie (Oliver Robins) at the home of Diane’s mother (Geraldine Fitzgerald), the evil returns for Carol Anne in the form of a strange preacher named Reverend Henry Kane (Julian Beck).  The Freelings find themselves under the protection of a Native American named Taylor (Will Sampson) and Tangina Barrons (Zelda Rubenstein) as they are forced to face the evil once again and return to their home in Cuesta Verde.


Don’t call me “Brace Face”!!!

Directed by Brian Gibson, Poltergeist II:  The Other Side is the sequel to the popular Poltergeist of 1982.  The movie was rated PG-13 after the PG-Rated Poltergeist which was also considered a film which pushed the PG rating.  The movie was met with mixed review and Zelda Rubenstein was nominated for a Razzie.  The movie did receive an Academy Award nomination for its Best Visual Effects (losing to Aliens).

Poltergeist was a mini-horror masterpiece.  Despite being a PG rated movie, people often list it as one of the films that scared them the most (partially due to the horrifying clown).  Poltergeist II:  The Other Side does have some memorable points, but it feels like it tries too hard to scare when the scares of Poltergeist seemed more natural.


What’s going on, and what is that thing supposed to be?

The biggest problem with Poltergeist is the story.  It is far, far too convoluted.  The original film was a simple story of a family haunted in their home.  Here we have spiritual leaders, possession, angels, cults, and trips to the afterlife.  It feels so scripted and tight that there isn’t any room for the natural feel that made Poltergeist feel so real.  The horror of Reverend Kane’s cult is interesting but causes the movie to lose direction.

The movie’s acting does help (and hinder the plot).  JoBeth Williams really does a nice job as the mother, but Craig T. Nelson’s constant doubting does get a bit much.  Heather O’Rourke struggles as a child actor here and the script keeps wanting to make her younger than she is.  Oliver Robins also struggles, but I am always amused by the fact that Robbie is willing to give up his family anytime anything bad happens (he wanted them to drive away in the original without his older sister).  Will Sampson is good as the generic wise Native American Taylor, but Zelda Rubenstein’s over-the-top nature isn’t as charming here.  The real star of the movie is Julian Beck as the creepy-as-hell preacher who is haunting the Freelings (“God Is in His Holy Temple…”)


Yeah, nothing horrifying about this…

Visually the movie is real hit or miss, but the visuals due provide the memorable scenes.  I think the flashbacks of Reverend Kane are a good creepy ghost story, and the idea of being buried alive is always good for horror.  I probably had braces or was just about to get braces when this movie came out so the braces coming alive was particularly close to me.  The creepiest part had to be the tequila bottle worm monster…it was truly horrifying, but unfortunately turned into some weird snake head monster thing.  The movie was also originally planned for 3D so things like the chainsaw coming at the camera while attacking the car are left overs of this.

There is a lot put behind the “Poltergeist Curse” which also has some background in this film.  Dominique Dunne who played Dana in the original film was killed by her boyfriend after the first film.  Julian Beck who played the preacher was dying of stomach cancer while shooting the movie (adding to his creepy appearance). Will Sampson died shortly after the film after a heart and lung transplant.

Poltergeist II:  The Other Side isn’t the best horror film, nor is it the worst.  The movie doesn’t capture the madness or the scariness of the original film, but it has points where it does work.  Despite Poltergeist II’s failure to live up to the original’s level, Poltergeist III released in 1988 was a far worse sequel and embarrassingly bad.

Related Links:

Poltergeist (1982)

Poltergeist III (1988)

Poltergeist (2015)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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