My memory of Poltergeist 3 was slightly better than that of part 2. The story was completely lost to me but I had vague recollections of scary mirror people, Carol Anne's pajamas, and Tom Skerritt. That right there should be reason enough to hate this movie, but did the world's biggest Poltergeist fan (me) actually hate this second sequel? Read on to find out...
Poltergeist 3 is generally believed to be... well, a huge turd. Its current rating on Rotten Tomatoes is only a meager 14%. Despite all that, I really like this movie! I know! I like it a lot more than Poltergeist 2, and I'm actually very surprised at the across-the-board hate for it. Poltergeist 3 is seriously a pretty good movie, and I'm not just trying to be nice here. There's actually not a lot about the movie that I don't like, which is new territory for me. Again, it's no Poltergeist but it's got some things of its own going for it that at least make the movie visually entertaining.
So after the introduction of this movie's family unit and the ginormous high-rise building they all live in, we're introduced to Carol Anne's psychologist at school, Dr. Seaton. Frankly, this guy is a complete quack and an idiot and whatever school gave him his doctor degree should be ashamed. He has this convoluted idea that Carol Anne has the power of mass hypnosis and is able to make people see whatever she imagines. In one scene where he sees, through a mirror, a hand coming out of his desk and throw a coffee cup at the mirror and breaking it, he is so delusional about his theory that he tries to tell the people behind the mirror that Carol Anne made him see it and made the other woman break the mirror. Whuh? The dude playing the doctor is also the worst actor of the whole bunch. Every line he utters is unbelievably cheesy and fake sounding, it's a wonder his whole performance didn't end up on the cutting room floor.
Poltergeist 3 is that is quite fast-paced, as it all takes place over the course of one day and night. The elaborate effects are a big help in this department, and most of them are very convincing and well done. I loved all the bits with the stuff happening in the mirrors, which keeps you one your toes because you're always watching the reflections, waiting to see what they're going to do next. The one bit that I remembered the most clearly before I rewatched the film is when Donna and her beau Scott meet up in the hallway. They laugh, then they kiss, then Scott rips off Donna's cheek before they walk down the mirrored hallway, only appearing in the mirror. I still kinda like that.
The other effects are quite inventive and thankfully there is nothing as stupid as the braces attack in Poltergeist 2. I liked all the mirror and ice imagery - there's an okay scene where Bruce and Pat encounter frozen chickens and pigs and then possessed frozen cars in the parking garage - which kept the effects consistent and nothing seems too far out of left field, even for a Poltergeist movie. The gross-out scene comes when Donna's evil mirror-self claws her way out of dead Tangina's body, a scene that is kind of the opposite of my favorite scene from Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night 2 when dead Mary Lou punches her way out of alive Vicky's body. Anyway. Suffice to say that I like all the effects in Poltergeist 3 because they are inventive and crazy like a Poltergeist movie should be and they are well executed.
So I'm going to have to be the dissenting opinion here and say that Poltergeist 3 is actually not a huge turd in my book. O'Rourke, Skerritt, Allen, and Boyle all give convincing performances in a movie where the high-dollar effects would usually overshadow everyone. These effects keep the plot moving and give us some cool things to look at along the way. Thumbs up, I say.
Red footie pajamas for the win!