Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986)

The most racist of Poltergeists. Also, that subtitle is nowhere near as good as House II: The Second Story.

I’d seen the original Poltergeist and Poltergeist III years ago, so I figured now was a good time to go back and knock out the rest of the original trilogy. All I knew going into this was that I’d have more weird psychic stuff and a tequila worm monster. I am happy to report that H.R. Giger apparently did the creature designs, so when the tequila worm did finally show up in the movie, I was not disappointed. In fact, I really wasn’t ever disappointed with the random moments of creepy undead, freaky monsters, or the bizarre behavior and appearance of Father Kane. And while I’m at it, the family of actors weren’t bad either. But was I disappointed? Well yes. This is a weird movie.

To start with, we’ve got Steve and Diane Freeling having relocated their family to her mother’s house, minus the older daughter who, tragically, is considered the first victim of the “Poltergeist Curse.” Actress Dominique Dunne was murdered by her abusive boyfriend after trying to break up with him shortly after the release of the first film. Regardless of any possible ‘curse’ on the series’ production, Dunne’s death is truly horrific and was preventable. A scene remarking on her absence was apparently not used, but she’s supposed to be off at college. Soon after, the grandmother dies, and the haunting returns. Meanwhile, psychic Tangina has unearthed a mass burial of a cult under the Freelings’ former house, so she recruits a Native American man known only as Taylor to help the Freelings fight…because Native Americans have mystic powers or something. So Taylor shows up, speaks in spiritual non-white person parables, and shows the family how they can save themselves through love and Native American magic powers. He also plays with butterflies and fixes stuff around the house.

And then the villain shows up: Reverend Kane. HA! You know that ancient Indian burial ground schtick in the first film? Nope, turns out the Freelings built their house on an ancient white people cult burial ground. And then hilarity ensues, including: the son gets attacked by his braces; dead people hide in the closet; the car gets pissed off; insurance for houses sucked into the void; and more! Truth be told, I wasn’t entirely sure at times whether I was supposed to take this as a horror comedy, because I’d end up laughing at it. Then again, I had the same problem with The Exorcist

Zelda Rubinstein won a Razzie for this movie, which to be honest I don’t think she deserved. The script wasn’t her fault. Neither was the short joke about not being able to see her through the peephole on the door.

Here’s what I learned from this movie:

1. Short people and non-white people have mystic powers.
2. Never eat the worm.
3. Your braces really are trying to kill you.
4. Chainsaws freak out cars.
5. Smoking helps you fight demons.
6. Never build a house on a Caucasian burial ground.
7. Never answer toy telephones, even when you are expecting a call.

So, all that leaves is the remake. Should I even bother?

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