Poltergeist II (1986) - Weasello Rating: {***-} (OK, for a sequel) {Prequel - Sequel}

Many, many spoilers.

One Sentence Plot Summary: Creepy guy that was the ghost from the last movie tracks down the family again, and there is a big metaphysical battle in hyperspace or something with a happy silly ending.

Death Count: ZERO. Not a dog, not a bird, not a mouse, not ANYTHING. DAMN IT! There wasn't even a really bad gory scene or anything... Though if you check the interesting notes below, there were some real cadavers!

Plot Outline: Well, the little girl from the first movie looked so tasty to the evil demon guy, that he had to come back and find her. Even though the family moved clear across town and made sure their house wasn't built on a graveyard, the evil demon guy finds them.

In this movie, the demon manifests itself - he takes his own personal form and physically stalks the family. He's pretty cool looking, and from a distance he looks like Christopher Walken, but up close he looks like Rat Boy at age 70. I swear. A mirror image. Very scary looking. We find out who this fellow is too - he's Kane, a religious cult leader that lived back in the 1800s. He led his people out West to make a Utopian Society, but then predicted the end of the world was nigh - so they found themselves an underground cavern and sealed themselves in. When the day of Armageddon came and went, Kane wouldn't let the people leave - and they all slowly starved to death. This created about a hundred "lost spirits," or ghosts that were generally plaguing the area of the graveyard, and one big evil spirit, who would be Kane. Kane was a controlling nut-bag even in death, and he wouldn't let the nice people spirits go to heaven, and he wouldn't let Little Girl (our hero!) go back to the real world, either. Yes. Was that too much information? I thought it was interesting. Anyway, back to the plot.

So after the movie establishes who everyone is and why they are doing what they are doing, we get to see a nice stereotypical and (what I would consider) offensive scene involving two old indians sitting on top of a mountain plateau, sitting around a fire, smoking, chanting, and absorbing warrior spirits and stuff. All throughout the movie, Stereotypicalindianguy (Taylor) does stereotypical things, and even says that he sadly had a drinking problem. Hoo-ray for old movies! I would be deeply offended by this character if I was a native myself, but I'm not - any natives out there that have an opinion on this? I'd like to know, and I'll post it here.

In any case, the family learns that they can't run from this evil Kane guy and they have to stay and fight with their family love and warrior spirit. They then jump into a mystical indian fire and appear in the ghostly plane of existance, where the penultimate battle for life and death commences. It involves the family holding hands and maybe throwing a spear, and then it's all over. But it takes about five minutes of cheezy 80's special effects to do it. The family is alive, the spirit is dead, and all the lost spirits were escorted to heaven by the lovely Little Girl! Hoo-ray! Now everything is fine, all loose ends are tied up, and nothing else can happen. SEQUEL!

They end the movie with a funny little joke about how the indian guy stole their car. Ok, so maybe he asked for it, but the way he asked, it was stolen ("Your car's spirit tells me it wants to go home with me!").

My Opinion: This movie was of slightly less caliber than the first movie; in a way, the limited budget of the first movie made it better. In the original, the movie relied on suspense and your own imagination to come up with a "visual fright," as special effects were kept to a minimum. In this movie, now with a bigger budget, you see everything on the screen - and I'm sorry, but a giant gelatinous alien with sparkly hair and mystical fog surrounding him just isn't that scary. This movie relied HEAVILY on special effects, which is unfortunate. Otherwise, the acting was done well and I found the movie entertaining - enough to give it 3 stars out of 4, but I would not rent it again. Easily forgettable, as well. As a stand-alone movie, it would get one or two stars; with the prequel and the sequel propping it up, it's worth a bit more.

Interesting Notes:
  • Though this movie doesn't give credit at all to Steven Spielberg, the writers Michael Grais and Mark Victor were the ones hired specifically by Steve to write the first movie, and did such a good job on the trilogy that he hired them on for Always in 1989. His influence is still heavily felt.
  • Just like in the first movie, the cast and crew did not know that several of the cadavers were real skeletons. Unlike the first movie, the cast found out during filming. The crew demanded an exorcism be held on the set to ease the rising tensions, which was performed soon after by Will Sampson - the fellow who played the Indian Warrior Shaman guy.
  • The dad in the movie comments on the indian perhaps being an escapee from an asylum. In One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Sampson played that exact role (that is, an escaped asylum inmate).
  • Actor Julian Beck died of stomach cancer after filming the second film, marking the second death in the Poltergeist curse (several people have died in relation to this trilogy).
Cast: Director: Brian Gibson

Writing Credits: Michael Grais, Mark Victor

Runtime: 87 Minutes

Tagline: They're Back!
Sources: The IMDB of doom, my head, and special thanks to the box.

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