Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 38 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Directed by: Gary Sherman
Written by: Gary Sherman & Brian Taggert
Starring: Tom Skerritt, Nancy Allen, Heather O’Rourke, Zelda Rubinstein & Lara Flynn Boyle
It should speak volumes that the opening scene of POLTERGEIST III has the earliest attempt at a jump scare I’ve ever seen. It’s literally Carol Anne sitting on her bed and suddenly…her door opens (complete with musical stinger). Right out of the gate, you know you’re in for a rough watch. I’d rank the first POLTERGEIST among some of the best ghost movies of all-time. While the sequel is definitely a bad film, it at least had a few redeeming factors in returning cast members and a creepy Reverend. POLTERGEIST III abandons any good favor in that the studio pumped this product out without a soul. Aside from two returning actresses, brief references to the other two films, and a bad Reverend Kane impersonator, this has next to nothing to do with POLTERGEIST.
Carol Anne Freeling has been sent to live with her aunt and uncle in Chicago for no specific reason other than the original cast may have not wanted to return for this awful script. Attending a school for gifted children, Carol Anne is put through therapy that unleashes repressed memories about the ghosts of the past. Unfortunately for Carol Anne, her aunt, uncle, and cousin, the undead Reverend Kane has made his way back to Earth somehow and wants to take Carol Anne again. Supernatural hijinks ensue that will leave you scratching your head and Carol Anne is absent for a majority of the movie as her aunt and uncle try to save her. I’ve seen scarier GOOSEBUMPS episodes than this!
POLTERGEIST III literally feels like someone at the studio picked up a script that had been lying on a dusty shelf for a while and slapped the POLTERGEIST name on it. Carol Anne, Tangina, and Reverend Kane were all incorporated to give the movie some loose ties to the other two films. Other than these minute details, POLTERGEIST III feels like one of many other unfocused cheesy horror films coming out in this time frame. However, this also makes for some hilarious unintended comedic moments. I love how Tangina enters the film and has about 10 minutes of screen-time at most. Her introduction is literally her spilling tea at a café with her friend, then saying “He’s found her,” and nonchalantly walking out the door to visit Chicago. Add to that, she only shows up to make a phone call and offer Yoda-like advice to the real main characters: Carol Anne’s uncle and aunt (Tom Skeritt and Nancy Allen).
The performances themselves are a joke. Everyone’s delivery is unconvincing and off ever so slightly. The plot doesn’t make a lick of sense either as a new plot hole springs up every five minutes. Despite the big city being a potentially promising setting for a ghost story, every single detail you can imagine ranges from awful to terrible. Notwithstanding, the ghosts have developed a sudden fetish for portals that are within water or mirrors. The amateur soundtrack also sticks out like a sore thumb. Not to mention how sad it is that the character of Carol Anne became nothing more than just a kid in distress for the POLTERGEIST sequels. She actually had some strength and bravery in the first film. Here, all she has to do is scream at her uncle from an otherworldly void and runs away from a guy in a bad Reverend Kane outfit. In one scene in particular, you can tell the actor playing Reverend Kane is wearing a rubber mask. It makes you wonder how anybody working on this film could have possibly hoped it would be good or even decent.
If you thought POLTERGEIST II was bad, then pretend this steaming pile of fail doesn’t even exist. This is a film that’s so terrible in every way that it’s a wonder someone like the Nostalgia Critic hasn’t torn it to shreds in a video picking apart why it sucks. The only reason you have to not pretend that POLTERGEIST III doesn’t exist is if someone talented makes a video review ripping this sucker apart. Until then, POLTERGEIST III? What’s POLTERGEIST III? They never made a POLTERGEIST III.