Poltergeist II: Other Side, The (1986)
|Year Of Production||1986|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (47:39)||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Menu|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Brian Gibson|
Twentieth Century Fox
Craig T. Nelson
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The prologue features two native American Indians enacting a ritual on top of a remote mesa. The tall fellow inhaling the ghostly fog as if he had a bad cold is actually good old 'Chief' (Will Sampson) from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, who escaped the asylum with some creative renovation work. It's nice to see him return to his native roots, and we know he'll figure prominently again as a dues ex machina later in the piece. Following the credit sequence, we're reintroduced to the Freeling family, who have taken up residence with Grandma. Dad Steve (Craig T. Nelson) and mum Diane (Jobeth Williams), now destitute and fighting to claim insurance money for their home, which was sucked into a vortex by Hollywood special effects, are still able to keep their spirits (ahem) up. Life is certainly different for the family. TVs are banned from the household (poor Robbie has to settle for watching them in shop windows) and dad mumbles about aiming for "downward mobility" as he struggles to make ends meet in the vacuum cleaner business an ironic career choice given what happened to the house. Portents of trouble to come include Carol-Anne (Heather O'Rourke) sketching an evil face, Diane dreaming about zombies dragging her under the garden, Robbie being cocooned by wire from his braces, and Carol-Anne's toys coming to life. The moment when she whines "they're baaack!" is particularly frightening, but for all the wrong reasons.
From here on the mayhem escalates as the family learn that a cult who entombed themselves beneath the burial site on Freeling's old land (!) wants Carol-Anne because she alone crossed to the 'other side', thus explaining why fresh poltergeist activity has followed the family to their new lodgings. As if things weren't bad enough, Tangina (Zelda Rubenstein), the dwarf medium from the first movie, squeaks out any exposition not adequately explained or inferred by the on-screen action. She identifies the source of it all as being a cult leader called Kane (played by the cadaverous Julian Beck). The solidity of his spiritual presence waxes and wanes as the plot demands, until finally he manifests himself as a loathsome creature designed by H. R. Giger. If Sil from Species and the Alien ever shagged and produced an offspring, it would look like this beast, which was brought to life by Steve Johnson, the man responsible for the practical amphibian effects in Magnolia. Anyway...the Freelings decide to confront the Evil Menace and drive back to its psychic epicentre, namely their old property, below which the film climaxes in a spectacular light show. It would have been great to have the big Indian smother Tangina to death with a pillow, but our nuclear family survive to live another day, and that's what matters. Although, predictably, their plan to move to a high-rise apartment unleashes an even more terrifying nightmare: Poltergeist III.
Sultry Jobeth Williams, slumming here after her stint as an ensemble player in the critically acclaimed The Big Chill, and B-list workhorse Craig T. Nelson do their best to breath life into this sequel without their contribution it would've been too unbearable. The special effects hold up well; my favourite bit occurs when the family is attacked in their car by a floating chainsaw. I'm sure it inspired the opening murder scene in Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre II, where two yuppies are sliced up in their car by Leatherface. Director Brian Gibson, a TV hack whose feature film highlight is probably 1998's Still Crazy, tries to hide the many plot contrivances beneath the film's high production values, but he ultimately fails to deliver anything beyond the "elaborately pointless" result we have on this DVD, preserved for Posterity in ones and zeros.
Shots of the desert during the opening credit sequence are exceedingly sharp and detailed. Right from the start it was apparent that, however dire the story was, the actual presentation was going to be breathtaking I shall never tire of seeing older movies restored digitally to this degree. Surface textures and background elements created a three dimensional, photorealistic image. Shadow detail was exceptional, and blacks were solid. There were hints of edge enhancement on high contrast transitions, but they were so fine that my TV's scan velocity modulation may have been equally at fault.
The shot of the rose garden in the grandmother's backyard, with its red, yellow, and green colour scheme, is a perfect example of the precise colour saturation, naturalness, and stability of this transfer. Colours remained consistent throughout the film, with no evidence of colour bleed or low level noise. Skin tones were spot on.
A handful of speckles were the only noticeable blemishes. Film grain was so fine as to be invisible (a larger display would make it more apparent) and there were no compression artefacts. All in all this transfer retains the look of the typically 1980s anamorphic cinematography by Andrew Laszlo, and if anything, makes it look better than release prints.
The layer change at 47:39 occurs in the middle of an exchange between Taylor and the Freelings, from one line to the next. It was jarring, but at least it was not mid-sentence.
The drop in fidelity (5.1 compared to 2.0) and the age of the source material is apparent mostly in reference to the dialogue. While it is always discernible, distortion is a problem at times, for example at 46:38 when Diane calls out Rob's name. This is a minor quibble, however. Apart from variable ADR work, the dialogue always sounded in synch with the video.
Surround usage is limited to the occasional sound effect. Wall thumping sounded great, as did the occasional tortured wail from the Other Side. For the most part though, the audio dynamics are restricted to the front sound stage, with a few directional effects thrown in to spice it up. Some depth was lent to Jerry Goldsmith's haunting music score, but again the dynamics were limited. Low end frequencies played a minor part in this sound track, perhaps due to the level of sound technology 16 years past.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The DVD itself is absolutely definitive, with a lusciously detailed video transfer (new telecine equipment?) and a functional Dolby Digital 2.0 sound track. It is gratifying to see MGM putting this much effort into a minor horror release.
|DVD||Metz DE 71, using RGB output|
|Display||Loewe Ergo (81cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital decoder.|
|Amplification||Arcam AV50 5 x 50W amplifier|
|Speakers||Front: ALR/Jordan Entry 5M, Centre: ALR/Jordan 4M, Rear: ALR/Jordan Entry 2M, Subwoofer: B&W ASW-1000 (active)|