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Poltergeist III – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)

Poltergeist-III-Poltergeist took its final journey with trilogy capper, Poltergeist.  Who knows, though, if Heather O’Rourke hadn’t tragically passed right after filming this, how many they would have done following.  This film was dealt with toughly upon release, but has found its band of faithful fans and really does offer much to be appreciated.  Showing their appreciation for it and the fans is Scream Factory.  Coming into the Collector’s Editions series (Along with the second 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 

They’re back… again!  And they’re looking for Carol Ann in this riveting finale to the Poltergeist trilogy. Sent by her parents to live in a Chicago high-rise with her aunt and uncle, Carol Ann discovers she must now face demons more frightening than ever before. Led by the Reverend Kane, the spirts have moved from invading homes to taking over an entire skyscraper.  They are lurking behind every mirror… waiting. Fortunately, Tangina returns to help battle these malevolent forces.

Poltergeist III was the final touch on the series, whether intended or not.  Heather O’Rourke passed away tragically after shooting and it was best to just release this film as one final tribute to her and then not touch the series.  She was synonymous with it, the whole thing was her story, and doing another without her probably would have felt icky.  Though, we live in times today where I’m sure a way would be found or that might not stop someone.

This third film, or “that one with those damn mirrors” as I used to call it, is quite an under appreciated little gem.  It was lauded for many years, but as those years faded, I found more people that were fans of the film.  Its not perfect, and most cult horror film aren’t, but it features some rather disturbing ideas, imagery, spooky atmosphere and dynamite effects sequences for something that is a third film on a much smaller budget than the first two.

I don’t think  some of the stuff this movie does gets enough credit.  The playfulness with the mirrors being a big one.  There was a lot of work with reflections and body doubles throughout and you really can’t tell which is was in a lot of areas.  And then there’s the part with Lara Flynn Boyle and her boyfriend having clothing on that has its wording/logos that are backwards and you don’t realize it for the longest time.  Its having fun and is actually smarter in many angles than you probably ever want to credit the film for.

Speaking of Lara Flynn Boyle, the whole sequence where Zelda Rubinstein quickly turns into a creepy corpse and then has Boyle bursting out of her is an all timer for me.  Its just fascinating to see happen and makes you go “Damn, how’d they do that”.  Well, I mean, now I can figure, but when I was little it amazed me.  And the effect still holds up.  As a matter of fact, I really think a lot of this movie holds up.  Taken as sequences, frames, effects and haunts, the third Poltergeist delivers more than a third movie based off the first film probably deserves to.

I like Poltergeist III.  It has creepy atmosphere, some spooky ideas and a sense of being its own compared to the first two.  The film also impresses in terms of its effects as well, which is pretty surprising.  I actually have always kind of liked this one, but as I revisit it time to time over the years, it grows even more on me.  Tempted to give it a half star more, I’ll stick with my solid three for right now.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail:  Poltergeist III has been on Blu-ray before, but now it comes with a new 2K interpositive transfer from Scream Factory.  And like The Other Side, this one is a nice step up from its predecessor.  It features a bolder, more cinematic and full image.

Depth: Things appear much more well rounded and three dimensional in this new transfer compared to the previous one.  Movement is smooth, free and cinematic.

Black Levels: Blacks are good and rich, showing a little more grain on its darker portions.  There are nice different tints and shade.  Hair follicles, fabric patterns/texture and such all have details the come through without being hidden.

Color Reproduction: Colors seems to pop and feel much more well rounded in this new transfer.  The red of Carol Anne’s pajamas really come through as something vivid on the screen.  Whites, like the ice and snow feature varied versions and shades on one color.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and maintain a consistent appearance throughout.  Details on faces like wrinkles, stubble, freckles and make-up lines as well as the corpse-like figures and mirror demon faces all have good amounts of detail.

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:  While there’s a good performance here, it just feels like this one could have presented a bit more engaging and full sound.  You’ll need to turn it up a hair more than normal.  The mix is well balanced and effects feature good depth, its just lacking a bit of a boom.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  The sub is a bit on the weak end.  Its present, but you just sorta feel it could hit a bit harder.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Some cool stuff happens in the rear, but a lot is focused in the front.  Movements are accurate, as well as volume placement in relation to onscreen action/characters.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is clean and clear.

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Extras 

Poltergeist III – Collector’s Edition comes with a reversible cover displaying the original theatrical poster.

Audio Commentary

  • With Director Gary Sherman
  • With Poltergeist III Webmaster David Furtney

High Spirits (HD, 16:02) – An interview with screenwriter Brian Taggert.  The writer talks his collaboration with the director and what they both intended for and what ended up happening in the film. He talks about stuff he’d like to change.  Then he also warns about how the business is, and how being nice and having good relationships will get you far.

Reflections (HD, 12:15) – An interview with actress Nancy Allen.  Allen talks about taking a chance on a script she didn’t really understand.  She calls O’Rourke a grounding force, like a veteran actor, on the set of the film.  There is also her experience with the tragic death in the film.  Allen recollects that the film was finished and that she wasn’t available for pick ups and reshoots.

Mirror Images (HD, 12:47) – An interview with special effects creator John Caglione, Jr.  In awe of getting Dick Smith as a consultant, he tells the story of the effects and make-up design for the film.

Alternate Ending (HD, 2:50) – No audio was available for the footage, it is subtitled with lines from the script.

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:04) 

TV Spots (HD, 2:06) 

Still Gallery (HD, 6:28) 

Poltergeist III Script (HD, 10:47) 

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Summary 

Poltergeist III has its fans, and you can count me as one of them.  There are some really freaky things and sequences in this film.  Too much to appreciate to turn your nose up.  And this Blu-ray is nothing to turn your nose up.  It features another great transfer with some rather okay audio (Could’ve been better).  The extras are pretty good, too.  Its nice to finally see this and the other Poltergeist sequel finally get some love.  Now, if we could get a bluntly honest documentary about the making of the first one…we’d be all set!

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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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