Poltergeist 3 (1988)
Director: Gary Sherman
Heather O'Rourke/Carol Ann
Lara Flynn Boyle/Donna
Carol Ann (O'Rourke) is now living with her aunt Pat (Allen), her uncle Bruce (Skerrit) and her cousin Donna (Boyle). They all live in this humongous high rise that has way too many mirrors. Things start getting weird again when the spirit of Kane (this time around played by Nathan Davis) comes back to haunt Carol Ann. Don’t be afraid of the TV, don’t be afraid of toy phones…be very afraid of mirrors.
What I respect about the Poltergeist series is that each film is different. Part 1 and 2 were very different but they still had the same vibe. Part 3 runs away from the feel of the first two installment for better and for worse. The family unit (The Freelings) so prominent in the first two is absent and replaced by an aunt/uncle/cousin relationship instead. It’s not nearly as powerful as the "family" in the first two and the film suffers because of that. On the other hand the change of location is a great idea. This building is one creepy place, filled with mirrors, which is the films most efficient trick. Every "scare", "creep out scene" done via the mirrors works like a charm and is sure to give you the willies. All the special effects were done "live", on set. Nothing was added in post prod (unlike the previous two films). The new approach to the gooey goods worked for me, it gives the visuals a stronger presence. Heather O'Rourke also gets to act more in this film. The fact that she’s older helps a lot. It’s sad to watch when you take her death into consideration. She’s such a sweety and I’m sure she would have grown to be a good woman.
On the negative side, Bruce (Skerrit) and Pat (Allen) are really not impressed by ghosts. I mean they witness a demon coming out of Carol Ann’s door and they’re all chill about it afterwards. Nothing impresses these two. The film also gets downright confusing halfway through, I never knew what side of the mirror the cast was on and in the end I just gave up and went with it. The film also offers us some teen hijinx that I could’ve went without. In my book we keep that sort of stuff for the Friday The 13th series.
Bringing back Tangina (Rubinstein) was also a bad idea, she feels out of place, has way too many monologues and just doesn’t work. Also what she does in the end totally opposes what the first film was about. The "new" Kane (Nathan Davis) is not nearly as creepy as the original (Julian Beck passed away). Maybe he just pales in comparison to Beck’s chilling turn in part 2.
The film has two characters that I truly despised. One is a very unlikable psychologist Dr. Seaton (Richard Fire) who has dumb as "Jim Carrey" theories on Carol Ann’s "ghost" history…he thinks she’s able to mass hypnotize people. I guess she mass hypnotized the house into the ground in Part 1…duh…his theories suck! I prayed he would die early on and horribly….my prayers were not answered. The other is Donna’s little crush Scott (Kip Wentz). For some reason the man got on my nerves big time. Maybe it’s his Ronald McDonald hairdo, maybe it’s his constant grinning…he just did not appeal to me.
The ending is also very anti climatic. But that’s because they never finished the film. Seventeen minutes of shooting still had to be done when Heather O'Rourke passed on. So what we get is a "bogus" ending that is far from satisfying. I love the Poltergeist series. I love Heather O'Rourke and even with all it’s flaws I liked this movie. I did miss the "Freelings" immensely but the concept is very kool, the acting is decent, the directing is top notch and some scenes really creeped me out. Look inside the looking glass…
Some nice possession makeup, a melting head, a frozen boy and great visuals. The film is not gory but the effects work. Legendary makeup man "Dick Smith" was consultant on the film. Gary Sherman designed all of the effects.
Tom Skerrit (Bruce) is one charming man and one of the only actors I know that gets away with sporting a moustache. He delivers the Skerrit goods here giving yet another strong show. Nancy Allen (Pat) also does fine as the selfish aunt. I did feel that the chemistry between Skerrit and Allen was a bit forced and I was a tad annoyed on how underwhelmed the actors were towards the ghost activity. Zelda Rubinstein (Tangina) sings most of her lines and sticks out like a sore thumb. The part worked in the original, started to lose it’s magic in the second and is un welcomed in this one. Lara Flynn Boyle (Donna) plays yet another Donna ( she played Donna on Twin Peaks the show), she handles herself very well and should win an Oscar for being able to make out with Kip Wentz with a straight face. Last but certainly not least, Heather O'Rourke (Carol Ann) is all charm again, it’s nice to see the character be a bit more articulate, a bit more adult. Her performance is a good one and makes you wonder what kind of actress she would be today…I’m sure a great one.
T & A
Sherman is all about mood with this one. The first shot of Carol Ann and the window washer sets it all up and after that we embark on one eerie ride. The film also has crazy lighting, great pans, good shots and mirror trickery that will freeze your blood.
Effective spooky score by Joe Renzetti.
The first Poltergeist is probably one or better yet THE best ghost movie ever made. Part 2 didn’t top it and neither does this last installment. I originally saw this film in the theaters and although it has many flaws I always go back to it. I watch it at least twice a year. I don’t know if it’s the mirror stuff, Heather O'Rourke’s last performance or because it’s the end of the Poltergeist series…I always go back to it. The film takes a big chance, throwing away a sure bet (no more Freelings and a very new setting) and gambling with a new approach. Some of it works, some of it doesn’t but one things for sure, it’s not a copy or a reworking of the first two…actually change Carol Ann’s name to Denise and this film could stand on it’s own, apart from the previous two movies. That’s a sign of a brave sequel.
Heather O'Rourke passed away on February 1, 1988. RIP. It’s weird cause I remember crying when I read about it in the paper .…I never understood why I cried …