"That's not Carol Anne."
Tom Skerritt and Nancy Allen (at a reasonable weight) play the most leathery and emotionally vacant couple imaginable. Like the cold, steel high rise they call home, Tom and Nancy are devoid of sympathy for little Carol Anne. For reasons unknown, they take her in as a ward, but they hate her - in fact, everyone in this movie hates her! Carol Anne goes to a savant school in Chicago where she’s treated by a catty, gay psychoanalyst named Doctor Satan (spelled Seaton). Reverend Kane, like her guardian angel from Hell, doesn’t approve of her new living situation one bit so he… wait. I’m getting ahead of myself.
A haunted house movie set in a luxury skyscraper in the middle of a big city is an awesome concept. Gary Sherman had directed Dead & Buried, which is one of the better horror movies, and he came on board with the best of intentions: to make a contemporary haunted house movie using mirrors and practical on set effects. A high society art dealer is married to an older, distinguished man with a teenage daughter who has a penchant for late night pool parties with her horny girlfriends and their fashion conscious gay best friends. Being a family of narcissists, they are surrounded by reflective surfaces. Ghosts are trapped in the reflections adding an air or spookiness to their modern, city living. This could have been a good movie, but something went terribly wrong along the way.
“Well, that’s a lot of crap that doesn’t mean anything.”
Making this a Poltergeist movie was a mistake bordering on exploitation. Heather was really sick and in no condition to make a movie, it’s actually hard to watch. The precious little angel from Poltergeist was fighting for her life and they let the cameras roll. Without Jerry Goldsmith’s score, or Jobeth Williams emoting, or the attention to every minute detail that made Poltergeist the classic it is, Poltergeist III is the black sheep of the series. Poltergeist II: the Other Side goes off the rails and is missing the crucial Dominique Dunne element, but the performance of Julian Beck (who was on death’s door himself) as Reverend Kane and its exploration of Native American mysticism as well as the long tradition of paranormal sensitivity among the women in Carol Anne’s family made it a worthwhile endeavor (also, please note: Craig T. Nelson is ridiculously hot). Poltergeist III has no Julian Beck, no Jobeth, no Dominique, and we all know that Tom Skerritt is no Craig T. Nelson. Tom Skerritt looks like an ash tray and Nancy’s base is at least a shade lighter than her natural skin tone and Carol Anne is a little bit too old to be wearing that primary red onesie.
For all there is to know about this movie - how it came to be, what went wrong and why (it’s production history rivals that of Heaven’s Gate), be sure check out David Furtney’s brilliant website: http://www.poltergeistiii.com/. It’s everything!