Heather O’Rourke and Zelda Rubinstein are the only players from the first two films to cross over into the light of Poltergeist III. Here, O’Rourke’s character, Carol Anne, seemingly dumped by her parents for reasons unknown, is taken care of by her Aunt Patricia (Nancy Allen), Uncle Bruce (Tom Skerritt), and teenage step-cousin, Donna (Lara Flynn Boyle), living in a high-rise building in Chicago. Carol Anne has been enrolled in a school for gifted but troubled kids, as her therapist, Dr. Seaton (Richard Fire), thinks that the young girl has the ability to hypnotize people into believing her delusions about seeing ghosts. Seaton forces Carol Anne to speak about her experiences, which brings to light her involvement with the dreaded Reverend Kane (Nate Davis), and this talk has caused the late Reverend to cross over into trying to get in contact with the girl again. For some reason, the entire building is chock full of mirrors at every turn, which is convenient to the haunting that emerges, as most of its haunting involved scaring the bejeesus out of the family and their cohorts through reflections in whatever mirrors they happen to be looking at.
Poltergeist II: The Other Side seeks to give more back story to the events of the first film, why the youngest child in the Freeling family had been wanted by the spirits, and the nature of the cult from which the spirits culminated, headed by Reverend Henry Kane (Julian Beck). Kane manifests himself in human form in this sequel, tenacious in his pursuit of young Carol Anne (Heather O’Rourke), now moved away with her family in the hope they could start a new life for themselves. Tangina Barron (Zelda Rubinstein), the paranormal investigator from Poltergeist, sends out a Native American shaman (Will Sampson) to help protect the family once she discovers the hidden cave buried in the ground where Kane and his followers died, knowing that the family will not be able to escape Kane’s interest no matter where they might go. Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams, and Oliver Robins return.
In the film, a family of five known as the Freelings lives in idyllic suburbia – or so they think. Strange things begin to occur in the house shortly after their cherubic 5-year-old daughter (Heather O’Rourke) begins receiving communication from someone she refers to as the “TV people” through the static on their television set. Their pet bird dies, furniture begins to move on its own, and other such oddities, but things take a turn for the deadly for the family when the tree outside their home seemingly becomes animated and threatens to engulf the middle child (Oliver Robins) into its wooden maw. The boy is saved, but their young daughter ends up missing, ostensibly stolen into another dimension by forces unknown, although she is able to still communicate through the television. The family enlists the services of a group of parapsychologists to investigate the strange phenomena, and hopefully get back their beloved daughter, but the forces that currently dominate the house prove to be much stronger than anything they’ve ever seen before. Tobe Hooper directs this Steven Spielberg production.