Poltergeist III (1988): Collector’s Edition [Blu-Ray]

Gary Sherman’s “Poltergeist III” is such a disappointing movie, and goes even further to stretch the mythology of the first film, so much so that I almost welcomed the loose spin off TV series from 1996. It’s very disheartening to see Carol Anne now under the care of her aunt and uncle in the big city, especially when the first and second “Poltergeist” films pushed the whole “Love” and “Family unity” themes on us so aggressively. Heather O’Rourke as Carol Anne has gone from side character to the principal heroine of the entire series, now living with her aunt and uncle in a very high class skyscraper and apartment building filled with mirrors. This, of course, allows Gary Sherman to concoct a lot of very surreal moments of horror here.

He also gives us the literal interpretation of the mirror world that Carol Anne has fallen in to time and time again. It’s just sadly such a darker, grittier, and lackluster finale that even makes Tangina seem tacked on rather than a quintessential heroine in this battle of good and evil. When last we saw the Freelings, they were on the brink of bankruptcy, and now they’re able to send Carol Anne across the country to live with her wealthy family, and now attends a school for the gifted. She has a sense of clairvoyance and immense mental powers that her teachers and instructors are, for some reason, trying to prove is all nothing but very good mind games and mental manipulation. With her teachers trying to evoke her powers to debunk them, she accidentally throws out a mental beacon which alerts her old foe Preacher Kane. Kane returns to her home and is hell bent on taking Carol Anne and bringing her in to his realm once and for all.

Now with Tangina once again leading the charge, Carol Anne’s family has to do battle with Kane. Much of “Poltergeist III” feels like leftovers, and held over ideas from the former two films, including Kane’s presence. After the first two films involved big battles and Carol Anne confronting the evil Kane, his return feels weird and forced. Tom Skerritt and Nancy Allen are almost always great, but their characters lack the inherent every man quality and engaging personalities that Craige T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams had, even in “The Other Side.” It’s never really made clear why Carol Anne’s school is trying to disprove her abilities, why Kane is back and found her, and Tangina gets a sense of Kane stalking Carol Anne while her family is generally oblivious to her turmoil. “Poltergeist III” just kind of goes through the motions, at least making good use of the high rise filled with mirrors and reflections. It’s an abysmal book end to a movie series with a pretty convoluted and low stakes mythology.

The Scream! Factory release comes with an audio commentary featuring Director Gary Sherman and moderator Michael Felsher of Red Shirt Pictures, both of whom engage in involving and entertaining commentary from the movie. They discuss the detailed special effects, and they share thoughts on Heather O’Rourke and her unfortunate passing. The second commentary features a very entertaining and well rounded discussion with David Furtney, webmaster of the Poltergeist fan website, who delivers a great list of trivia, cast bios on the cast and crew, and so much more.  “High Spirits – Screenwriter Brian Taggert Interview” is a sixteen minute talk with screenwriter Brian Taggert who offers some informative insight on his career, working with the director, and how they took the movie and made it in to their own “Alice Through the Looking Glass.”

The twelve minute “Reflections – Nancy Allen Interview” is a neat sit down with the great Nancy Allen, who discusses the nice mirror tricks, and her fond memories working on the movie. “Mirror Images – Special Effects Creator John Cagligne Jr. Interview” is a twelve minute interview with John Cagligne who explores all the effects he helped create for the movie, including the gross moment where Lara Flynn Boyle rips herself out of a rotting corpse. He also discusses recreating Kane through make up since the original actor had passed away before the film was made. There’s the alternate ending for the film, the original theatrical trailer, original TV spots, and an HD still gallery.