Monday, January 30, 2017

Blu-ray Review: Poltergeist III

In my interview with David Furtney, I mention the rule of three.  The rule can also pertain to most third films in a franchise.  Sometimes it goes really good.  Dream Warriors will always be the shining example of this.  Sometimes it can go really bad.  Godfather Part III anyone?  And sometimes, you get a third in a franchise where the filmmakers and even the fans aren't sure what to think exactly.  Those films rarely get their proper due.  Poltergeist III is one of those films.  And now, like many others before it, Scream Factory is releasing it on a gorgeous collector's edition Blu-ray.

The film centers on Carol Anne Freeling (the late Heather O'Rourke), who is now living in a Chicago high rise with her Aunt Pat (Nancy Allen), Uncle Bruce (Tom Skerritt) and his daughter Donna (Lara Flynn Boyle).  But more than Carol Anne's toys and clothes have come with her to the Windy City.  Reverend Kane (Nathan Davis) is still trying to find the light and he still needs the little girl's help.  This time she must rely on a new family and an old friend to bring her back from the other side.

I've always liked this movie.  I've probably seen it more than the first film and I know that I've seen it more than the second (also available from Scream Factory).  Maybe it's the late 80s aesthetic or the on camera special effects.  Maybe it's my love of Nancy Allen, who is still gorgeous.  But more on that later.   Needless to say, this collector's edition Blu-ray is the definitive edition for anyone who enjoys this film.

A brand new 2K scan of the interpositive brings out the brightness of the film.  While it's always been evident on previous releases, now it pops in a new way.  The 5.1 DTS audio brings new clarity to the soundtrack.  The score is finally able to shine as it has always intended.  Although I would have liked to also see an original mono track included, I have no complaints with what we are given.  We are treated to two brand new audio commentaries, one from director Gary Sherman and another from our good friend David Furtney from  Gary Sherman's commentary offered some great information, as well as explaining how some of the on-screen effects were performed.  Sherman also spoke fondly of Heather O'Rourke.  How she was behind the scenes, her untimely death, how it was handled and how it affected him personally.  I also found it particularly interesting that Sherman said he was worried about "following in Spielberg's footsteps" regarding directing a Poltergeist film, adding more fuel to the fire over who really directed the original.  Furtney, while offering information regarding deleted scenes and fun facts, came to the commentary with a much more personal experience, speaking as a long time fan.

Red Shirt Productions brings three all new interviews to the bonus features:  Co-writer Brian Taggert, actress Nancy Allen and special effects creator John Caglione Jr.  Taggert, among other things, spoke of Gary Sherman's kindness during the writing process, as well as a message for all future writers.  Nancy Allen was a class act, still beautiful all of these years later.  I wished that they'd allowed her to elaborate when discussing her spat with on screen husband Skerritt.  It was nice to hear her speak about Heather and her impact on the film.  Caglione Jr reminisced about the process of creating all of the effects, as well as working with the legendary Dick Smith.

In addition to the interviews, we get a theatrical trailer, several TV spots, a still gallery with alternate poster artwork and behind the scenes photos.  Excerpts from the original script are included as well, offering a glimpse at Sherman's original vision.  Last but, surely not least, the long awaited and oft denied alternate ending.  While the audio for the scene couldn't be found, the film's score is laid over with subtitles taken from the original script to sync with the lips of the actors.  After finally seeing it, I can say, without giving anything away, that shooting a new ending may have been in the film's best interests, considering the imagery of the original ending combined with the knowledge of Heather's untimely death.

Skerritt and Flynn Boyle were sorely missed from the bonus material, though I'm sure they had their reasons for declining.  I also would have liked to see something from Kip(ley) Wentz.  Perhaps an interview regarding his absence from the theatrical's finale and the impact the film has had on his career.  As with most Scream Factory releases, the original home video artwork is on the reverse of the newly created artwork.

All in all, Scream Factory has done it again.  Their hard work has not gone unnoticed by horror fans.  With plenty of unsung films coming to light every day, I'm sure SF still has a lot more to show us all.  I cannot wait.

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