Friday, October 15, 2010

2010 Geek Fright Fest: Poltergeist III

Poltergeist III (1988)
Rated R (for violence and disturbing images)

Directed by Gary Sherman

Heather O'Rourke
Lara Flynn Boyle
Tom Skerritt
Zelda Rubinstein

This is widely regarded as the worst of the three Poltergeist films, but for some reason, it's actually my personal favorite. I think it has something to do with seeing it on TV as a kid and being scared out of my gourd. If you're familiar with the first two films, you'll know that poor Carol Anne Freeling (Heather O'Rourke) and her family have been repeatedly attacked by ghosts, stemming from their purchase of a home built on an ancient Indian burial ground. Hoping to get some peace, the Freelings send little Carol Anne to live with her aunt and uncle in their Chicago high-rise apartment. Carol Anne is enrolled in a school for gifted children, but her wild stories about ghosts raise the ire of her psychiatrist, Dr. Seaton. Convinced she is faking and manipulating her family, Seaton forces her to relive the terrifying events over and over, making it possible for her arch-nemesis Kane to discover her location. Kane uses the mirrors to get to Carol Anne and sucks her into the "Other Side". Carol Anne's new guardians must risk everything to get her back and defeat Kane once and for all.

Admittedly, this film is laughable. O'Rourke's appearance is strange due to the medicine she was receiving to treat misdiagnosed Crohn's disease, causing her face to look bloated. The plot is a little hazy - we're never told why Carol Anne was sent away and one of the minor characters disappears and his fate goes unexplained. The acting is TV Movie of the Week bad, but at least the special effects are decent (for the '80s) and the use of mirrors enhances the scares. In fact, this movie is almost single-handedly responsible for my dislike of mirrors. Seeing this as a child was a terrifying experience, but watching it now, it's not scary at all. (Except for the mirrors, those still freak me out.)

Fright Rating: 2 gasps of a possible five

There's some mild violence and a few scary scenes, but it's a relatively harmless so-bad-it's-good horror flick.

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