When I used to buy real music albums before they became these darn interweb downloads, they used to have 2 actual sides on a record. Yup, you had to get up and flip a record to listen to more Mili Vanili or what we referred to in my days to as “mood killers.” Most of the time the “a” side would have all those top hits you’d hear on the radio but the b-side would be the leftovers, the forgottens, the land of misfit songs. Occasionally you’d find a hidden gem in the rubble of Casio loop tracks that was actually pretty good. It’s the same way I feel about Poltergiest 2: the other side. Heck, even it’s title says “b-side” and in comparison to the original it isn’t nearly as good but still has a few clever moments.
Since all those fun times in Cuesta Verda when their house imploded, the Freelings have moved in with their Grandma Jess. Steve Freeling (Craig T Nelson) has started selling vacuums to pay the bills but is saving a ton on cable without a demon ready TV. Little Carol Anne has become a clairvoyant but only uses her powers to pick out yarn colors with her hands. Sure she’ll get made fun of in school but just wait until senior prom when there’s a bucket of pig blood. Also there’s the younger brother Robby. He’s bummed they don’t have a TV but still hates clowns and trees. Rightfully so, I think that kid had a tougher time that Carol Anne did at the old house. Oh, and what the heck happened to older sister? Where did she run off to? Did she go to college? end up in loony bin? Nobody even mentions her. It’s as if she got wrote out of existence like that dog in the Brady Bunch.
One night Grandma Jess dies in her sleep so The poltergeist take the opportunity to call up Carol Anne on her toy phone and harass her like A Comcast sales rep. Long distances rates to hell are actually quite reasonable that time of night so some evil spirits escape into the wall shaking the house violently and send the Freeling family packin’. Taylor, a wise indian stops them on their way out telling them it’s better to stay and fight the evil. Steven says Taylor can stay but he’s taking his family to a diner to drown their sorrows in milkshakes and talk to possessed ladies at the pie carousel.
The next day Carol Anne gets stalked at the mall by a old preacher named Kane dressed as an emo Colonel Sanders. He catches Carol Anne and sings her a song until her mother, Diane finds her. She thanks him and runs away missing out on all the great mom jeans sales. Meanwhile, Steven has gone out in the desert to smoke Indian weed in a hut with his new BIP (Best Indian Pal.) He’s hoping to get in touch with his inner warrior or stoned hippie but hallucinates some bad special effects instead. At least he gets a cool Eagle feather out of the trip.
The Freelings return to the house after Taylor did a quick ghost cleaning which strangely smells like bleach, but the old preacher shows up the next day on their sidewalk telling them they’re “all going to dieee in thereeee!!”. Those are some mighty aggressive door-to-door sales techniques. Steve tells him to take a hike and Robby’s braces try to strangle him that night in the bathroom. It’s Orthodonics of the damned!
Tangina the tiny psychic finally shows up to help Diana tap her own psychic powers and discover the history of Kane who buried all his followers in a cave below the Freelings old house. Steven doesn’t handle the news well and becomes a raging alcoholic who drinks some tequila with a demonic worm in it. It possesses him briefly making him…. well…. a bigger raging alcoholic. He upchucks it thanks to the Power of Love and it becomes a big demonic spider monkey instead. It tries to choke him in the foyer but Steven fights it off with a puff of holy smoke. Lucky he inhaled but didn’t swallow.
The family flees the house in their station wagon pursued by possessed chainsaws and angry jumper cables and they decided to head back to Cuesta Verde to do battle with Kane on his home turf. Once in their abandoned neighborhood, They head down into the cave and jump into a magic fire Taylor prepared. They float around a bit and stab the Kane monster with a spear from an indian souvenir shop before he can absorb Carol Anne. It amounts to the most anti climatic battle since that one guy punched Justin Bieber in the face at the airport. The family emerge safely and are finally free from the evil’s clutches and other movie contractual obligations. Yes, Craig T. Nelson could finally go on to make and even worse evil…Coach.
Poltergiest 2 is a fun ride despite being very psychic munkchin light. Barry Goodall says take a trip to other side but always bring an Indian pal along for the ride.
Watch the trailer to “Poltergiest 2: the Other Side”