Poltergeist III (1988) - Weasello Rating: {*---} (Bleaugh) {Prequel}

Many, many spoilers.

One Sentence Plot Summary: Our favorite little girl is once again stalked and finally kidnapped by the evil spirit of the previous movies, with lots of special effects, smoke, and mirrors; she is finally rescued and everyone is happy.

Death Count: One female, one male. The only two deaths in the entire Poltergeist trilogy! (in fact, there are more real-life-deaths associated with the movies than there are fictional deaths)

Plot Outline: Well, Carol-Anne (the main character little cute girl) has been shunned by her parents and sent away to live with her aunt and uncle, who live in a giant skyscraper filled with hotels, condos, and shopping malls. She is also enrolled in a psychiatric "school" for gifted children; the girl has all but forgotten Mr. Evil from the previous movies, but after some regressive hypnosis she starts remembering him.

And we all know, if you think about the boogeyman, he comes to eat you.

And that's just what happens. Plot-wise, the movie isn't as full as the previous movies; it's just a giant chase around the condo, with Mr. Evil pretending to be various people and tricking everyone. Mrs. Psychic from the last two movies shows up and helps out a bit, and becomes the first ever casualty.

Eventually, the spirit of Mrs. Psychic escorts Mr. Evil to the big white light in the sky, and he assumedly goes to heaven. This releases the hence-captured people, and everything goes back to normal. There is very little plot or plot resolution, I assume, because half the lead cast had left or died halfway through the filming of the movie.

The ending of the trilogy is all happy and stuff, Mr. Evil is gone, but for no apparent reason, some lightning strikes the skyscraper during the closing credits and an evil cackle fills the air. Normally, I'd shout "SEQUEL," but it's been a good 15 years since that scene first aired. I don't think a sequel is coming anytime soon.

My Opinion: This movie licked, and I don't mean that in a good way. Even if the main character was still alive, and one of the supporting characters didn't leave filming halfway through, it was still a cheezy movie. Filled chock-full with horrible 80's hair, 80's music, and giggling teenagers taunting pop psychologists, this movie was a walking cliche. When things start going awry halfway through the movie (see interesting notes below), things go from bad to worse. The acting seems forced, the scenes are short and cut oddly, and the main characters are either missing, or have their backs to the camera. You would not be missing a thing if you only watched the first two movies of the trilogy.

The only saving grace to this movie is they played a lot with smoke and mirrors - no, literally! There were many scenes were the images in the mirrors were not exactly like the events they were reflecting, and I imagine these special effects took a lot of time and patience to accomplish. It was neat, but in the end a bit gimmicky.

Overall, I really enjoyed the trilogy. It's a set of movies worth seeing just for the sake of horror history. I give the entire trilogy 3 out of 4 stars.

Interesting Notes:
  • The main character, Carol Anne Freeling, died of septic shock partway through filming this movie. The director and some of the cast felt that this was such a problem that the movie production should be halted; unfortunately, the producers had invested too much money and wouldn't allow this. This rounds out the trilogy's Poltergeist curse, and also ruined the movie; most of the scenes with the main character you cannot see her face, and she rarely speaks. It is obvious they just dressed up a stunt double or something. This is particularly obvious in the last 20 minutes of the film.
  • Julian Beck was originally cast as the big badguy, Kane, but he died shortly after the filming of Poltergeist II.
  • Everyone (yes, everyone, damnit) was shocked and suprised when Tangina died in the movie (not in real life) - she was our favorite psychic that had been around since the original movie! Apparantly her mother died partway through filming this movie, so she was unable to act out the rest of the movie. This explains her sudden and unexpected death!
Cast: Director: Gary Sherman

Writing Credits: Gary Sherman, Brian Taggert

Runtime: 98 Minutes

Tagline: He's found her
Sources: The IMDB of doom, my head, and special thanks to the box.

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