Release Date(s)1988 (January 31, 2017)
Studio(s)MGM (Shout!/Scream Factory)
- Film/Program Grade: C+
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: B+
Poltergeist III is considered by most to be the least effective movie in the Poltergeist series. It was the last in the original run before the later TV adaptation and remake, but its production was fraught with bad luck. Heather O’Rourke passed away before the movie was completed, leaving a shadow over the production that lingers to this day. The movie takes place some time after the events of the second film, with Carol Anne having been sent to the city to live with her Uncle, estranged Aunt, and teenage cousin. While there, she begins to see Kane again around the apartment building, even as a doubtful doctor starts to suspect that she has psychokinetic abilities.
To be perfectly honest, I saw Poltergeist III on TV when I was a kid and hadn’t seen it since, so my memories of it weren’t very sharp. What I discovered, while revisiting it on Blu-ray, is exactly why that is. Outside of director Gary Sherman’s use of elaborate practical special effects, the movie is mostly unmemorable. It’s also poorly-paced, lacking any sense of urgency, with many shots going on for much, much longer than they really need to, particularly during the aforementioned effects sequences. In addition, there’s a lot of unnecessary use of score, particularly when Carol Anne is under hypnosis. Some of the movie’s dialogue is weirdly off-putting at the same time, particularly from Dr. Seaton, who I couldn’t help but feel was an awkward addition. Ultimately, Poltergeist III is just a clunky movie and not a very engaging one.
Like Scream Factory’s Blu-ray release of Poltergeist II: The Other Side, Poltergeist III comes carrying a brand new 2K scan of the film’s interpositive element. It’s another pleasing transfer that looks very organic with solid grain levels and excellent depth. There’s plenty of fine detail on display and color reproduction is strong, with natural-looking skin tones. Blacks are deep, with good shadow detailing, and overall contrast and brightness levels are satisfying. It’s also a stable presentation and doesn’t feature much in the way of leftover damage or dirt. Audio options include English 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD mixes. The 5.1 track is fairly immersive, with clean dialogue levels, a strong score, and robust sound effects in the surrounding speakers. There’s no leftover hiss, dropouts, or other age-related issues. Everything comes through well, with excellent dynamics and deep bass activity. The 2.0 track offers up a solid stereo experience as an alternative. Subtitles are included in English SDH.
As for extras, there’s a nice healthy dose of material worth checking out. Newly-included is an audio commentary with director Gary Sherman; another audio commentary with Poltergeist III webmaster David Furtney; High Spirits, an interview with screenwriter Brian Taggert; Reflections, an interview with actress Nancy Allen; Mirror Images, an interview with special effects creator John Caglione, Jr.; and the film’s alternate ending, which I personally think is better than what wound up in the final cut. Carried over from past discs is the original theatrical trailer, a set of 4 TV spots, a still gallery, and the movie’s script in slideshow form.
Poltergeist III has moments of real creativity and excellent visuals, but they’re saddled with a slow, unexciting story. Even though Zelda Rubinstein returns to reprise her role as Tangina, the lack of other cast members from the previous movies makes it feel deficient. The film does have its fans, however, so for those folks: There’s plenty on Scream Factory’s new Blu-ray release of the movie to appreciate, particularly the new transfer.
- Tim Salmons