Much like Richard Pryor in Another You, Heather O’Rourke’s ailment is readily incontrovertible on screen. Her cheeks are tumescent and it’s rather disturbing to see her in a state of physical suffering. Despite her medical setbacks, O’Rourke is still a rambunctious, spunky preteen actress and her rising maturity level is properly acquitted here as she constantly upstages the adults around her (“A woman is entitled to change her mind.”).
To be fair, Poltergeist III doesn’t regurgitate the formula of the two films prior. It apostatizes the suburban hearth for a more alienating, nefarious atmosphere and subzero temperatures in a Chicago high-rise building. Although Nancy Allen and Tom Skerritt shower O’Rourke with requited love.
Carol Anne (O’Rourke) is also not in her comfort zone which adds immeasurable danger to her relocation with her aunt and uncle. The concept of mirrors and reflective surfaces being a gateway for malevolent doppelgangers is incredibly scary. Now Rev. Kane looks more like Tom Savini’s The Creep from Creepshow 2 with no too much prosthetic enhancement.
Zelda Rubenstein reprising her role as Tangina is pointless. All of a sudden, she has an epiphany that Kane has “found her”, spouts her telepathic rhetoric and soon after she is decomposing into a dusty husk. In my youth, Poltergeist III was nearly tantamount to the first film because the spell it casts through the in-camera trickery. For instance, the mise en scene composition of Allen and Skerritt waltzing down the hall while multiple Kanes successively opens doors is a dazzling technical feat before the overreliance on optical effects.
While time has somewhat tarnished its reputation for me (The frozen tundra is a germane arena for a hockey rink, not a supernatural chiller), Poltergeist III is a moderately petrifying quantum leap over the syrupy part 2. However, a horror film should be lean and brusque instead of lenient with its intercutting subplots around a gallery opening and the mischievously hormonal antics of Donna (Lara Flynn Boyle), Bruce’s (Skerritt) daughter.
Rating: 2.75 out of 5