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Poltergeist II: The Other Side – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)

Poltergeist-IIThe original Poltergeist still holds as one of the greatest horror films of all time and to this day finds itself scaring new audiences and being celebrated, copied or poorly remade.  Its celebrating its 35th anniversary this year.  But, did you know its sequel was pretty damn solid, too?  Well, fright flick fans have been appreciating it for many years, and now’s the time to be alive as we have a company like Scream Factory that’s giving it some love.  Coming into the Collector’s Editions series (Along with the third one) in the month of January, you’ll get the film with a brand new transfer and a wealth of bonus materials.  Be sure to complete your Poltergeist Collection by pre-ordering it and the third film in time for release on January 31st!

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Film 

The Freeling family settles into a new home following the annihilation of their former residence by terrifying visitors from the netherworld. But the spirits of the dead are still hell-bent on luring the family’s clairvoyant daughter Carol Anne to “the other side.”

Where do you go from the Poltergeist.  First, you bring everyone back.  Well, not Tobe Hooper.  But that winds up being okay as the aesthetic and feel of the original is still there.  You also gotta decide what to do here.  And what this sequel decides it must do, is to add a layer and explain the evil from the first film.  For the most part, it works out okay.  Results could have been disastrous, but this film delivers a rather chilling villain.

My favorite thing about The Other Side is that this film wants to be a bit of a gross-out effects monster movie.  And man, this effects team goes to work.  Led by Steve Johnson, it crafts some creatures, sequences and effects that stick with you and become iconic and memorable in their own right.  There’s the braces moment, the tequila sequence (Which…ugh…vomit monster) and many more.

This second Poltergeist manages to craft suspense and carry on from where the first one left off.  Some of the silliness that you just have to go with comes from the narrative and choices in explaining but it doesn’t hamper the characters because you still care about them from the last movie.  And everyone here is game, as JoBeth Williams is equally strong and Craig T. Nelson ramps up his performance with more intensity.

Poltergeist II: The Other Side isn’t the first film and that’s the best thing.  Instead of repeating itself, it decides to further open a door to zaniness and becomes a fun monster show with its own identity while still keeping with the familiarity of the original film.  Its a nice compliment and a fun route to travel with all the cool effects work, suspense/action sequences and journey into what was the unknown in the first film.  Its a sequel worthy of the Poltergeist name.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail:  Comparing the two, I found this new 2K interpositive transfer to be a step up from the previous release.  The image looks a little more lively, full and bold.  Details come on very strong and the image feels a little darker (in a good way), helping the sharpness and definition of the objects and characters.

Depth:  Depth seems to improve in this new transfer with the image looking a little more 3-dimensional than the previous release.  Movements are very smooth and cinematic, with the backgrounds looking back and distant from the characters.

Black Levels:  Blacks are deep and rich, with some good shading and such.  Details manage to come through for the most part but some can get hidden.  Grain shows a little more on very dark things.  No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction:  Colors come across rustic and natural in this transfer.  Greens look really good and the other side looks nifty.  It holds a very real look to it.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and maintain a consistent appearance throughout the film’s duration.  Details like freckles, wrinkles, moles, make-up and more are visible in good medium and close shots.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics: I’m pretty sure this 5.1 track is a carryover from the previous release.  That said, its pretty strong and gives a good, effective performance.  Actions sequences get nice and loud, with a layered approach.  This sounds new and not dated at all in the audio department.  A healthy weave of effects, score and vocals.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  Thunder, explosions, crashing, engines and intense pulsing are some of the rumblings of your subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation:  There are some fun moments of sound traveling around the room, back and forth and unique presences in the rear.  It does seems to focus a lot more in the front with ambiance hitting home behind, but its effectively done.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is clean, crisp and clear.

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Extras 

Poltergeist II: The Other Side – Collector’s Edition comes with reversible cover art featuring the original poster artwork.

Audio Commentary

  • With Writer/Producer Michael Grais
  • With Poltergeist II Webmaster David Furtney

Robbie’s Return (HD, 14:25) – An interview with Oliver Robins.  The actor talks his experience on working with his fellow cast mates, his relationship with Steven Spielberg & Heather O’Rourke. He also focuses on the braces stuff he had to go through on the film (Learning to speak without a lisp and how to eat).

The Spirit World (HD, 22:09) – An interview with special effects designers Richard Edlund, Steven Johnson and Screaming Mad George.  Primarily led by Johnson (Let’s face it, the guy is fun to hear reminisce), this goes over effect by effect of the film while also sorta reflecting some of the “good ol days” stuff with practical effects.

Ghosts Of Giger (HD, 21:02) – A look at the contributions of Artist HR Giger featuring rare photos and illustrations and an interview with friend and agent Les Barany.  While there’s a small bias on Poltergeist II (Interviews from effects guys on the previous featurette), it does focus on his history in film, legacy and stamp he made on filmmaking.  There are also some really interesting anecdotes and inside baseball stuff on him as well.

They’re Back: The Making of Poltergeist II (HD, 6:15) – A vintage making of featuring interviews with cast and crew and a little stuff about the creature making and Giger’s designs.

Monster Shop (HD, 2:45) – Features similar interviews from the “Making Of”, but a little more focused on the monster stuff.

Ghost Makers: The Magic of Poltergeist II (HD, 6:28) – A vintage piece on the special effects on the movie with interviews taken from the same sessions as the “Making of”.

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:22) 

TV Spots (HD, 2:04) 

Still Gallery (HD, 6:12) 

Poltergeist II Script (HD, 10:17) – Pages from the fourth draft of the shooting script.  Have the pause button ready, this slideshow moves by pretty quickly.

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Summary 

Poltergeist II: The Other Side is a nice, different, follow up to the original film.  Its a ghost/monster movie that will awe with effects and thrill you with some good suspense sequences.  This Blu-ray honors it with a delicious new transfer as well as a nice load of extras both new and old.  I think its telling that the extras are effects focused as that’s what really tells the tale of this sequel.  A definitely pick up and obvious replacement/upgrade for the old version in all facets.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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