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Sunday 15 July 2012

Burl reviews Poltergeist II! (1986)

Ha ha, BOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, ha ha! No, it’s just me, Burl, here to review a ghost picture! No, not Poltergeist, but Poltergeist II! Ha ha, that’s the one with the evil preacher, though maybe the third one, which I’ve never seen, has an evil preacher too! I guess I’ll find out someday, because the DVD of Poltergeist II that I have has the third one on the other side, but I’ve never watched it! Ha ha, the same thing goes for the Robocop movies – I have all three of them, but have never bothered with the third installment! It’s a Nancy Allen thing, maybe!
Anyway, if you remember the original Poltergeist, it concludes with the Freeling family fleeing their haunted house and ending up in a motel, where the first thing they do is roll the TV out the door! But in this second one we discover that the TV wasn’t the problem; it’s just that ghosts don’t like the Freelings! Now they’re living with Granny in Arizona, and what do you know, the supernatural is soon literally knocking at their door, aiming to start up their shenanigans once again! The evil preacher is played by Living Theatre co-founder Julian Beck, and he’s the best, creepiest thing in the whole picture by a very long shot!
Other guest stars include Will Sampson from The Outlaw Josey Wales as the mystical Aboriginal gentleman, and the return of the diminutive ghost whisperer Tangina, whose performances in these movies always have me half suspecting it’s meant as some sort of joke or put-on! Ha ha, people talk about a curse on the Poltergeist movies because so many of the actors passed on before their time, but I think Tangina is the real curse! (Ha ha, the dying actors thing doesn’t seem like a curse so much as just a sad turn of events, and calling it a curse doesn’t really show much respect to the poor dead actors!)
Many strange things occur! For one thing, Granny sports a distinctly un-Arizona accent! Then the young boy’s braces run amok for some reason; and the little girl, who barely looks older than she did in the first movie even though this one was made four years later, is kidnapped by spooks once again! Also, the dad becomes a possessed Bad Dad for about five minutes: a little tip of the hat to The Shining, I suppose! There are some mildly Lovecraftian creatures in the mix, and I appreciated those! I liked the monster mezcal worm too!
It’s pretty amazing how much this family drinks, by the way! The dad is always slugging on his bottle of mezcal, and that stuff is pretty potent! The mom, on the other hand, likes her Jack Daniels, which she sips casually in the afternoons as though it were tea! Well, when ghosts are on the attack, maybe it’s best to counterattack with some spirits of your own, ha ha!
The dad is a bit of a numbskull in this one, playing the part of the skeptic once again despite all that happened to him before! Well, he never struck me as too smart a guy, and the actor who plays him is even dumber, I think! Ha ha, that guy was on some kind of right-wing talk show not too long ago, telling all the poor people out there that they should simply pull up their bootstraps and not expect any handouts from the government or anybody! After all, he says, in his younger days he was on welfare and food stamps, and no one ever helped him! Ha ha! That welfare and food stamps was the help, you tetherball, and was the reason you survived long enough to become the Coach!
Well, sorry for my little rant – Craig T. Nelson may be a bit of a blockhead, but his performance in this picture is pretty good, if you like ham! The stuff involving the preacher's back story is pretty creepy, and nicely anti-clerical to boot! Too bad the movie wraps up with a bunch of bunkum and honeydew on the so-called Other Side, with the family rescued by a combination of their great love for one another and a surprise granny ex machina! It’s a really so-so movie, and gets even sillier than you might imagine! There's no finality to the conclusion of this one either, and after all the random, goofy, pointless Freeling torment, it's got a wet cruickshank for an ending! I give Poltergeist II one and a half Freaky Freelings, and that's mostly for Julian Beck, who died as the movie was still being made! Too bad, he could have had all the great horror roles he wanted after this one!

(Ha ha, an extra note: do those fade marks on the movie poster look like skeleton hands reaching out of the darkness for that little girl to anyone else? They do to me! Ha ha, creepy!)

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