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.
JoBeth Williams stars as suburban Ohio housewife and mother Cathy Palmer, who escapes her joyless marriage in her spare time by reading her favorite romantic thriller novels, all starring a Modesty Blaise-like globe-hopping female private detective, Rebecca Ryan. She loves them so much, she enters a Rebecca Ryan fan fiction writing contest in which the winner of the would-be authors scores an all-expenses-paid trip to Paris, including seeing all the famous sights, as well as meeting the author of the novels herself, Margaret McMann. When her selfish hubby tells her he has no time for it, and she should just not go at all, Cathy decides she’s going to Paris alone if she must, leaving him and their two boys behind for the week. A curious thing happens on the trip, as Cathy ends up taking a blow to the head after getting hit by a car while pursuing some purse thieves, and when she awakens in the hospital, she not only forgets she’s Cathy, but she thinks she’s the heroine of her novels, Rebecca Ryan herself. She begins her make-over to glamour and adventure, all the while imagining everyone and everything around her is part of a plot of one of the novels, including the leader of the French opposition party, whom she suspects is part of her mission to help protect. Meanwhile, she mistakes Englishman Alan McMann, Margaret’s son (played by Scottish actor, Tom Conti), as her partner-in-crime-solving, Dmitri, and the two get themselves into a heap of real trouble as she dives head-first into snooping around where she doesn’t belong without the skills or expertise to truly know what she’s doing.