Poltergeist III (1988) Poster

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Heather O'Rourke is the greatest (her best acting, IMO)
J_Malice31 July 2005
Going in a different direction from the previous two movies in the series, this one took a few chances. The high-rise, mirrors, a new Kane(sad what happened to Julian Beck), etc. I loved this movie for those reasons. Not saying I didn't enjoy the other two because those were excellent, but it seemed like there wasn't anything in there to make them considered a horror movie except for the presence of ghosts with a little bit of suspense. "Poltergeist III" contained murder, suspense, tricky camera angles and most of all, the best acting I have ever seen from Heather O'Rourke. She was so adorable in her red pajamas and I truly believe she carried the movie with up to par performances by Skeritt, Allen, Rubenstein, Fire, Flynn Boyle and Wentz. Her presence on screen while watching this movie is so magnificent and very believable. When I was little, she was my first crush and I loved her, I only found out on 6-4-2005 that she passed away and it crushed me. I say this is the best of the series and I know I am the minority, but hey, to each his own. I realize the first movie is pretty much legendary for her famous line "They're Here", but I feel the acting here is better. The way they made the concept of the mirrors work is amazing and I thought it was a great attempt a something new. I gave this movie a 9/10 because of how much I enjoyed Heather O'Rourke's performance. Check it out.
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Sadly disappointing finale
gcd7013 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Heather O'Rourke is one of the only original cast members who returns for this "Final Chapter" in the "Poltergeist" series.

Director Gary Sherman, a special effects wiz, presents us with some impressive visual trickery (all apparently produced on the set), but offers nothing else in the way of entertainment. His film is very rarely scary, rather mostly just plain silly, as Carol-Anne once again faces the evil preacher Cain (an unimpressive Nathan Davis) who this time has taken over an entire sky-scraper.

The cast do nothing for proceedings, and even Zelda Rubinstein (who also returns as Tangina) looks as though she wished she wasn't there. Jerry Goldsmith's music is also missing, but perhaps that too would have made little difference to the final outcome. Not much of a finale to this frightening, spooky story.

NB Heather O'Rourke sadly passed away after production was completed, at the premature age of 12. A dedication can be found in the closing credits.

Saturday, January 1, 1994 - Video
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Positive thoughts :-)
Resa7124 August 2003
I honestly DO NOT know why this film was criticized for being so bad.....while it's not as good as the 1st "Poltergeist" movie, it's DEFINITELY NOT a bad movie! The film boasts a good cast (Heather O'Rourke, Lara Flynn Boyle, Nancy Allen, Tom Skerritt), GREAT special effects, and has some scary moments to boot. It's certainly better than some of the 80's "slasher" movies, where too many sequels ruined the originals, and I honestly think that it rates up there as being a very underrated horror movie of its time. :-)
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No classic but it absolutely terrifies me
tlcglitznglam27 July 2005
I was shocked when I came to this site to see how low the rating is for this movie. I loved horror movies as a kid and still do, but of everything I remember watching when I was younger, Poltergeist III scared me the most. I would go literally weeks before I could look at myself in the mirror again... I'd always have to run by them. I used to watch this movie with my friends and it made them equally afraid of mirrors. I'm not going all out to say that the acting was high quality or that it goes down in my books as a classic horror movie but I think it's highly underrated. It's an incredibly dark, terrifying movie in my opinion. I think it's by far the scariest of the three Poltergeist movies, although the original Poltergeist is my favorite.
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Bad on all counts.
AthenianRun28 May 2003
What made the first Poltergeist so appealing was how likeable the characters were. For the 3rd installment in the Poltergeist series only Heather O'rourke (Carol Anne) and Zelda Rubinstein (Tangina) are hold overs from the original cast. If O'rourke and Rubinstein were smart they would have skipped particiapating in this bomb of a movie also.

Though the special effects were somewhat interesting this movie suffers from a bad script and bad acting highlighted by the actor who plays Dr. Seaton, who may have given the worst acting performance ever. There are far too many characters in this movie who are uninteresting and that you have a hard time caring about.

There is a certain sadness in watching this film knowing that Heather O'rourke died a few months before it's release. A double for Heather is used to shoot the final scenes of the movie which creates an odd and choppy ending.

This movie is a sad final chapter in the Potergeist series. The people behind the 2nd and 3rd installments were never able to recapture the magic from the original Poltergeist. It's even sadder that the cute and innocent little girl passed away at such a young age.
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Break the mirror!
tex-4213 October 2007
Warning: Spoilers
At times, watching Poltergeist 3 is like watching a bunch of different movies at once. You have John Hughes style teen angst with Lara Flynn Boyle, you have yuppie love problems with Tom Skerrit and Nancy Allen and finally you have the horror film with Heather O'Rourke.

There is definitely an interesting concept hiding in this film. Carol Anne has been sent by her parents to live with her aunt and uncle in a Chicago high rise so she can attend a special school to deal with her emotional problems. At school, Carol Anne has been forced to talk about her experiences during the first two films, and this has brought back the Reverend Kane, the ghostly villain of Poltergeist 2. In a neat touch, Kane tries to get at Carol Anne through mirrors by taking possession of various peoples' reflections, and draining the heat out of the apartment building. Tangina arrives to try to intercede, but another ghostly battle begins to get Carol Anne back.

It is clear that this movie was lower budget than the first two, and as such, the effects, while very creative, are not as good. The script also suffers, dragging for a good portion of the movie, and not really developing the characters. Also, the words "Carol Anne" are said ad nauseum to the point where you almost wish the ghosts would just take Carol Anne and go.

This is the weakest of the three Poltergeist movies. The movie isn't terrible, but it certainly is not good either.
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Third times the charm
aaronzombie19 April 2000
The first POLTERGEIST is still the best haunted house film in history(In my opinion.), but this 2nd and final(?)sequel comes in at a close 2nd. Carol Anne stays with some relatives(Tom Skeritt, Nancy Allen, and Lara Flynn Boyle.)in a Chicago highrise to go to a special school for gifted children. Suddenly the evil Reverend Kane and his army of ghosts from the first two films show up to make life Hell for the residents of the highrise. Exciting, suspenseful, great story, acting, and music score. ***** out of *****. R.I.P. Heather O'rourke.
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This series is worn out by now
Wizard-84 May 2009
Although "Poltergeist II" wasn't a box office smash, MGM still decided to make another entry - possibly because then MGM was considered the last stop in Hollywood by producers wanting to make feature films (and still is to a degree), and MGM then *really* needed the money (and still does to a degree). The end results really look like a token effort made to make a quick buck. Despite the luxury high-rise setting, much of the movie looks somewhat impoverished. There are a few good special effects (I saw a TV program that revealed that many of them were actually all done on set, instead of being added to the movie after principle shooting), but there are some shabby effects as well (specifically the "ice" effects seen several times in the movie.) The script contains a number of unanswered questions, more if you haven't seen any of the previous movies. The cast (especially the male actors) all seem to be phoning it in, showing their feeling to the entire enterprise. MGM put this out on DVD with part II, probably because they thought (correctly) that no one would buy part III on its own.
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Dr. Seaton, You Rock.
drhackenstine6 February 2005
Strange little sequel filled with annoying characters and some horrible dialog. Poltergeist 3 is not really all that bad, it just suffers greatly from those two flaws. Story does wisely by switching the setting from the suburbs to the big city. The character Carol Anne now resides with her aunt and uncle and snobby cousin in Chicago, where they live in a high rise. Soon, ghosts start popping up again. This movie has some of the stupidest lines in it, it's often hard not to grin. O'Rourke did a good acting job in the first two films. Here, not so good. I think that may be the fault of whoever wrote the go-nowhere script. A lot of the characters lines in this seem forced or overacted. Especially the character of Dr. Seaton. The special effects are impressive though. The makers used a lot of mirror tricks that really pull the movie through it's stupider moments. However, the chopped off head of Kane scene was atrocious. I guess this movie suffered because of severe budget cuts.A lot of scenes in this movie feel a bit lame(the kid who busts up through the ice and runs into the window, the "break the mirror" scene,the kid who flips off the security camera, etc., etc.). Nancy Allen, who plays the aunt, does not look happy to be involved in this. Weaker entry in the series, but it is watchable. Seems a bit rushed. Features annoying teenagers you would find in a Friday The 13th movie. A guy rips off Lara Flynn Boyle's cheek. And whats with that growling window pane in the end? Ya gotta see it if you saw the first two. Two stars.
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Overall Disappointing Sequel
Moviemasterh8022 November 2001
Poltergeist III was overall disappointing sequel which is nothing new! The third ghost film has Carol Anne living with her uncle and aunt in a skyscraper apartment building of some sort and now goes to a private school for "gifted" children and has a bald headed psychiatrist who can really test your nerves. OK! Whats up with the obsession with the mirrors in this one! It's an original idea but the villain known as Kane (introduced in the better sequel) gets on your nerves also as he keeps calling Carol Anne's name over and over and over. That's not spooky that's stupid and annoying. The thing with this one is that it resorts too much to the 80' slasher cliches; gore, violent disgusting images, teenagers acting like fools getting into trouble, and very lame dialogue! The first two lacked these qualities which made them good! They avoided the cliches while still being entertaining. This one is about half as entertaining as the first (don't get me wrong! it is entertaining at times but not enough!) and the ending is rushed and pointless. Check out the critics' slamed reviews and the failing box office numbers. You'll see what I mean! 4 out of 10 I'm being a little generous!
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Where are your parents, little girl?
SnoopyStyle23 April 2016
Carol Anne has been sent to live with her Aunt Patricia Wilson-Gardner (Nancy Allen), her husband Bruce Gardner (Tom Skerritt), and stepdaughter Donna Gardner (Lara Flynn Boyle) in the Chicago highrise which Bruce manages. Her relatives don't know the story of her ghostly encounters. Carol Anne is in group treatment under the care of disbelieving Dr. Seaton when Rev. Henry Kane reappears. Tangina Barrons is alerted to his presence.

First, it's her older sister. Now, it's her parents. They may as well make Carol Anne an orphan in the movie. It would make more sense. The whole movie is flat. It is not scary and none of it is interesting. I certainly don't want to make fun of "Carol Anne" out of respect for Heather O'Rourke. She remains a positive for the franchise till the bitter end.
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Oh my crap...SO TERRIBLE!
aliceboy29 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I have seen any number of successful movies turned into shameful franchises, but the 'Poltergeist' trilogy really takes the cake. While I would never suggest the first was a fine film to any degree, it has its share of good scares and (more importantly) iconic scenes and images that stay with the viewer. I can only hope nothing stays with me from THIS abysmal chapter in the series. Not to speak ill of the dead, but Heather O'Rourke truly showed her (lack of) acting chops here. Granted, this is the first time in the series she's been expected to really perform (beyond 'They're here' and 'They're back'...oh, and a LOT of shrieking), and she was only 12 at the time, but who would build their movie around a performance that would embarrass a porn star? Especially when you have comparative heavy-hitters (at least for the time) like Tom Skerritt, Nancy Allen and Lara Flynn Boyle in your cast? Who would do this? Apparently a producer/writer/director/visual effects coordinator like Gary Sherman. Less than halfway through this quagmire, I realised there was something horribly wrong with the direction: nearly every one of the actors delivered their lines as though they'd first seen them that morning; the action relied too often on (not particularly spectacular) special effects; and the story offered little sense and less sympathy for any character. I set these problems squarely at the feet of director-co-writer Gary Sherman. I hope he's proud of himself. And whatever happened to Scott, the doofy pseudo-romantic interest for Lara Flynn Boyle? Not that I care, but when you're tying up your loose ends, wouldn't you care to at least account for all your 'major' characters and their whereabouts? I guess that's just me... Any reviewer here who would suggest 'Poltergeist III' is in ANY way good needs to see more movies. Perhaps they are suffering under some mass-hypnotic suggestion projected by the imagination of a manipulative 12-year-old girl they've never met. Within the last month, my wife and I have viewed all three 'Poltergeist' films. Do yourself a favour, and just watch the first.
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"Carol Anne?...Carol Anne?!...Carol Anne!!"
moonspinner5522 October 2006
A dreadful excuse for a thriller, ending the once-popular "Poltergeist" franchise on a shamefaced note. A young child, continually dogged by evil spirits, brings her reign of bad luck to a Chicago high-rise after she goes to live with her aunt and uncle (apparently her real parents had had enough). There was nothing in the original "Poltergeist" that suggested Heather O'Rourke's character Carol Anne was the reason the spirits were taking over that house; she was just a pawn in their plans. This movie makes it seem as though Carol Anne was the spark-plug for all the ghostly goings-on. Actually she's the pawn in a new game: that of sleazy filmmakers hoping to squeeze more money out of the public with an obviously-inferior product. Effects, script and acting are all atrocious. NO STARS from ****
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One of the Worst Movies I have ever seen
gallenm12 June 2003
Poltergeist III is truly one of the worst movies I have ever seen. The plot is illogical in terms of the rest of the series, as the poltergeists have developed different powers and methods than they used in the rest of the series. Furthermore, the main actors, Skerrit and Allen, are given virtually nothing to do except run around and look vaguely spooked. They cannot show the attachment to Carol Anne that was demonstrated by JoBeth Williams and Craig T. Nelson in the first two movies. Lara Flynn Boyle, making her major film debut, is virtually unrecognizable with a fluffy 80s hairstyle. Finally, one supporting character, a doctor, remains skeptical of the poltergeists far too long to be credible.
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Not a great ending to the triology
newlandia3 September 2003
No no no this movie should never have been made. Carol anne does justice in this film but the problems are that the film was too long and silly the characters are annoying and parts of this film are so unrealistic it's funny

Heather O'Rourke died after making this film and she could have been a great actress.She saved this film (just) 3/10 (8/10 for O'Rourkes acting)
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He's found her
fenderbender7723 July 2002
-Six years earlier in suburban Californaia, five year old Carol Anne Freeling was abducted from her family by a supernatural being who had a special purpose of her. She was rescued.

-One year later, the supernatural being returned for Carol Anne. Her family's love defeated him.

-Now, five years later, Carol Anne lives in Chicago with her Aunt Patricia, Uncle Bruce, and cousin Donna in a highrise apartment. Her memories of him are mere echos and images. But when the echos grow louder and the images more apparent, Carol Anne fears that "he" has returned. When her attempt to confront him on her own fails at the cost of Donna, Scott, and herself, Uncle Bruce and Aunt Pat find themselves with two missing children, a babbling psychic, and skeptical psychiatrist. Who will they belive? Will Aunt Pat and Uncle Bruce find the truth underneath the confusion? Will Aunt Pat be able to find the love and courage needed to save the children?

It's so sad this movie is underrated. Director Gary Sherman was all about mood for this installment rather then the gory special effect stuff. Plus, all of his special effects were done on shoot. Poltergeist III captures the same mystery of the original Poltergeist only this time in an urban setting. Sadly, Heather O'Rourke passed away upon completion so the ending is drastically rushed. Nancy Allan carries a stunt double out through the mirror.

For acting, this is Heather O'Rourke's best film. Her portrayal of Carol Anne is over the top. She was really shaping into a great actress. Nancy Allen dose well as the selfish aunt, Tom Skerritt plays a good sympathetic uncle, and this is Lara Flynn Boyle's very first movie. Despite, the rushed ending, Poltergeist III is an eerie film from start to finish.
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Horrible Ending to a good Film Series
Brian Wolters4 January 2005
Poltergeist III is a bad, bad movie but it has a sort of "Mystery Science Theater 3000" charm to it.

This time, Carol Anne is living in Chicago with her Aunt and Uncle to attend a "gifted" school and the "ghosts" find her. That is the basic plot and given the fact that Kane and his followers went into the light at the end of the 2nd film, having Kane as the "main ghost" made this film fail.

The movie is filled with bad acting and dialogue. Tom Skerritt is just way over the top in his early scenes and gives the worst performance of his career. Nancy Allen doesn't help much and Laura Flynn Boyle was lucky she survived this mess. Then there is the dialogue, which many quotes have become part of my daily life in just the sheer silliness of it all. From "Give Me The Necklace" to "I've got the knowledge and the power" to the bloated face Tangina saying "Outside-In", the movie makes you laugh unintentionally many times. Oh, then there is "The Puddle!","Funny, funnier","We wont harm you..we love you." While over the top, Zelda Rubinstein is the ONLY saving grace in this film. Her presence brings some of the creepiness that this movie needed. Yes, her final scene is pretty bad but here scenes in the middle of the movie are pretty good.

Poltergeist III fails on all fronts but mainly due to the fact that it needed a fresh, new idea for haunting Carol Anne one more time.
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Aaron137511 February 2004
This is the worst of the trio of Poltergeist movies by far. In fact it is almost a joke it is so bad. By now everyone from the original movie is either dead or they have opted out of their contracts and decided against playing in this third installment. All except the one little woman and Heather O'Rourke. Though she would have probably been better off not returning as well because she died of complications from the flu or something during the shoot. If she could have just been able to rest she might have been able to pull through, but I am guessing the movie shoot was just a bit to demanding. As it is she had to appear in one of the most utterly ridiculous and annoying horror movies ever. To her credit though she is the least annoying character in the movie as she is one of the few who doesn't yell out "CAROL ANNE" one hundred times. This movie has Carol Anne shipped to her aunt and uncle, apparently after all they had been through and done for the girl they Carol Anne's parents (played by Craig T. Nelson and Joe Beth Williams) just could not put up with her anymore. This contradicts the message of part 2 of the family using their love to fight off the evil. Well not all goes well for Carol Anne in her new settings as the evil old guy from part 2 is back to try and get her (played by a different person this time because the other guy died, and looking quite stupid I might add). They live in a skyscraper so it is kind of like "Gremlins 2" except not as entertaining. This one is slow moving and rather boring as there just are not the cool special effects from the previous two installments. Instead of ghosts we get killer cars and people who are different in mirrors that kill people by pushing them down. And after this one finally drags itself to the finish you will be left wondering what happened to the poor guy who is seemingly left on the other side.
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Yet another rehash...
gridoon24 June 2000
The change of setting and the introduction of some new characters breathe some life into this watchable sequel, but the general familiarity and a very messy script weaken the whole. One thing is for sure: after this third entry, the series had run completely out of steam.

If you get bored, try to distract yourself by watching the excellent effects, and by counting how many times the name "Carol Anne" is heard throughout the film. Maybe more than 100 times!
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Fascinating and complex
liderc19 July 2000
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this movie about ten years ago and was scared to death. Recently I watched it again and was still very impressed. Heather O'Rourkes performance is superb. She makes you wanting to protect her and hug her. The music is great and all the other actors (especially Zelda Rubinstein) are also great. What first confused me is Lara Flynn Boyles character: Donna. I thought she is Carol-Ann's sister but she is the daughter of Tom Skerrits character and Carol-Ann's cousin. Her sister is called Dana.. But strange that Donna looks and acts very much like Dana. The special effects are great and wonderful to look at, I hate this computergenerated special effects. The use of the mirror images is *fascinating*: Ah yes, and the actors in the mirrors *intentionally* move a little bit slower than the real actors sometimes, this is part of the suspense, because the mirror images seem to have a life of their own. Too bad that Zelda dies (afterwards she justs comes back from the other side for a moment to help). The "Donna" creature that crawls out of her body is just a fake Donna, as is her boyfriend who came out of the ice, as they go back to the mirror world after they killed the psychologist.

Anyway, this is one of the best and most complex horror-movies I ever saw.
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What are you talking about, this movie rocks!
clark-3928 October 2002
This is the best in the Poltergeist series, mainly because the first two were so boring. The first was really more of supernatural kid's movie. It was not scary at all and felt like it was geared towards elementary children, as if it's a substitute for a horror movie to them because they're not old enough to see a real one yet. In short, it was just plain boring. The second was double the bore. I couldn't even sit through that one. Whew. But oddly, this one comes along and blows those away. The setting is awesome (a high rise apartment building), the mood was creepy, and Lara Flynn Boyle is freaking hot. This did what the other two should have done -- cut out all that soapy family lovey dovey crap and getting sucked into a stupid TV with spirits that are as scary as my poodle and make a real horror movie. This one has a great plot. I love the idea of people trapped in a building with evil spirits (at least in this one those damn spirits DO something SCARY rather than play games like wrapping braces around kids and not hurting them (what was that, a joke?). I would skip the first two and go straight to this. All you need to know is spirits are following around a little girl. This movie rocks.
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Awful second sequel
ITTMovieFanatic2 June 2004
"Poltergeist III" is the third film in the series, and easily the worst. You won't find any scares this time around as Carol Anne Freeling (the ghosts' innocent target in the first two films) goes to Chicago to stay with relatives. Guess who follows her to Chicago?

Whereas the first two movies had good acting, "Poltergeist III" has bad acting from almost everyone. Everyone except young Heather O'Rourke, who sadly died four months before the film's release. Her presence here is the only good thing about it.

"Poltergeist III" also has bad writing and bad directing. And the special effects were very unimpressive. This was thankfully the last film of the series.

* (out of five)
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A good horror sequel
Aaron261625 February 2003
This film was one of my first horror movies ever. It use to come on TV all the time and scare me to death. I still enjoy this film alot and realize there are some flaws, but I think it holds up well for a horror sequel- and is way better than Poltergeist 2. The mirror's are what makes this film creepy and enjoyable. And I wish there could of been one more sequel to close the chapter. I forgive the ending to this film, its not horrible but you can tell its rushed and slapped together. It still remains close to my heart and even though the first one is the best, its well worth a watch.
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The One Thousand Ways to Enunciate the Name Carol-Anne
nycritic10 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Until further notice, the horror genre is a dead horse that people looking to make a quick buck try to beat into submission. The only people right now doing high-quality horror (and even then with some misses among their ultra-sophisticated hits) are the Asians, and thank goodness for them. But the story of the little girl and her evil friends from beyond the telly, while an initially good premise that the Asians have used to better effect in RINGU, by now in this "from-the-basement" installment, has gone into the levels of inane.

It seems that Carol-Anne's parents got tired of her making their life miserable and threw her into the custody of relatives living in a high-rise in Chicago. But, because of the traumatic events of the past, the little girl is in therapy with a psychologist straight out of the Silent movie era school of villainy -- you know, the kind who would tie Lillian Gish to the train tracks and snicker and sneer without a moment's hesitation. Anyway, he is probably the creepiest (and gayest) thing in this mess: a Judy-loving nellie with a flair for bothering the helpless little girl and lingering long after his party is over.

But not to digress: her Aunt and Uncle love her but well... not that much. And Donna, Carol-Anne's cousin, is all hormones ready to go and wants to have fun. That is, until Carol-Anne's therapy brings back the nefarious Kane into the picture, now played by a cranky old cadaver of a man instead of Julian Beck and voiced by who-knows-what voice-over actor intent on making high, ululating quivers called a voice sound scary.

It's then when POLTERGEIST 3 becomes a carnival ride with lotsa lights and mind-bending images. The only hitch is that by now, they've become irritating instead of scary and predate the remake of THIRTEEN GHOSTS in in sheer grandiosity by 10 years. Characters put themselves in danger for no reason, the word Carol-Anne is repeated until it becomes Chinese torture, and the plot advances with zero concern for believability. And on top of this, Zelda Rubinstein, hopefully unrelated to Helena Rubinstein -- she of the well-known foundation of the same name -- appears with her little-girl whisper and her complete inability to act, and then I knew the movie had really sunk.

Who comes out winning? Well, the attractive black lady who finds Aunt and Uncle making out in the parking levels of the building after a nasty fight with some evil cars, clones of Christine. She is the one moment when I figured I'd switched channels myself and come across a "In Living Color" moment. Who is she? Oh well... doesn't matter: I haven't seen her in anything since this 1988 movie.

P0LTERGEIST III is a misguided mess in every meaning of the word. Nancy Allen, Tom Skerritt, and Heather O'Rourke are painfully bad. Lara Flynn Boyle showcases some 80s excess and comes off a little better but for reasons having to do that she was on the way up, not out. Sadly, O'Rourke's own death during production killed the franchise off immediately.
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