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Poltergeist III

Theatrical poster
Directed by Gary Sherman
Produced by Barry Bernardi
Written by Steve Feke
Gary Sherman
Brian Taggert
Starring Tom Skerritt
Nancy Allen
Heather O'Rourke
Zelda Rubinstein
Lara Flynn Boyle
Music by Joe Renzetti
Cinematography Alex Nepomniaschy
Editing by Ross Albert
Distributed by MGM
Release date(s) June 10, 1998 (1998-06-10)
Running time 98 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $10.5 million
Preceded by Poltergeist II: The Other Side

Poltergeist III is a 1988 American horror film. It is the third and final film of the Poltergeist film series, and the second sequel to Poltergeist. Writers Michael Grais and Mark Victor, who wrote the screenplay for the first two films, did not return for this second sequel; it was co-written and directed by Gary Sherman, and was released on June 10, 1988.

Heather O'Rourke and Zelda Rubinstein were the only original cast members to return. However, Heather O'Rourke died unexpectedly in February 1988, before post-production on the film could be completed, and the film was dedicated to her memory.



Between the second and third films, the Freeling family has sent Carol Anne (Heather O'Rourke) to live with her Aunt Pat (Nancy Allen) and Uncle Bruce Gardner (Tom Skerritt). Pat is the sister of Diane, Carol Anne's mother. Carol Anne has been told she is in Chicago temporarily to attend a unique school for gifted children with emotional problems, though Pat thinks it is because Steve and Diane just wanted Carol Anne out of their house. Pat seems to have no knowledge of the events from the first two films, just noting that Steven was involved in a bad land deal. Along with Donna (Lara Flynn Boyle), Bruce's daughter from a previous marriage, they live in the luxury skyscraper (Chicago's 100-story John Hancock Center) of which Bruce is the manager.

Carol Anne has been made by her teacher/psychiatrist, Dr. Seaton (Richard Fire), to discuss her experiences from the first and second films. Seaton believes her to be delusional, however the constant discussion has enabled Kane (Nathan Davis) to locate Carol Ann and bring him back from the limbo he was sent into at the end of the second film. Dr. Seaton, having never experienced the supernatural, believes that Carol Anne is simply a manipulative child who has created something of a mass hysteria within her family, falsely making them believe they were attacked by ghosts. Also during this period, Tangina Barrons (Zelda Rubinstein) realizes that Kane has found Carol Anne and travels cross-country to protect her.

That night, Kane drains the high rise of heat and takes possession of reflections in mirrors, causing the reflections of people to act independently of their physical counterparts. When Carol Anne is left alone that night, Kane attempts to use the mirrors in her room to capture her, but she escapes with the help of Tangina. Donna and her boyfriend, Scott, see a frightened Carol Anne running through the high rise's parking lot, and move to rescue her. However, before they can, all three are taken to the Other Side by Kane. By this point, Tangina and Dr. Seaton are both at the high rise, along with Trish and Bruce. Dr. Seaton believes that Carol Anne has staged the entire thing, while Tangina tries to get her back.

Scott is seemingly released from the Other Side through a pool in the high rise, and Donna reappears after Tangina is taken by Kane disguised as Carol Anne. Scott is left at his home with his parents. Nobody notices that the symbols on Donna's clothing are reversed from what they were before she was taken. As Dr. Seaton attempts to calm Donna, Bruce sees Carol Anne's reflection in the mirror and chases her while Pat follows. Dr. Seaton is not far behind, and he believes he sees Carol Anne in the elevator. However, after Dr. Seaton approaches the elevator doors, Donna appears behind him and pushes him to his death down the empty elevator shaft. At this point it is revealed that Donna did not actually come back, but rather the person who came back was a reflection of Donna, under the control of Kane, who then vanishes back into the mirror, with a reflection of Scott at her side.

Pat and Bruce try to find Carol Anne, but Bruce is captured and eventually Pat is forced to prove her love for Carol Anne in a final face-off against Kane. The ending is somewhat unclear, but Tangina somehow manages to convince Kane to go into the Light with her. Donna, Bruce and Carol Anne are returned to Pat. The final shows lighting flashing over the building and Kane's laughter is heard.


  • Tom Skerritt as Bruce Gardner
  • Nancy Allen as Pat Gardner
  • Heather O'Rourke as Carol Anne Freeling
  • Zelda Rubinstein as Tangina Barrons
  • Lara Flynn Boyle as Donna Gardner
  • Kipley Wentz as Scott
  • Richard Fire as Dr. Seaton
  • Nathan Davis as Reverend Henry Kane
  • Roger May as Burt
  • Paul Graham as Martin Moyer
  • Meg Weldon as Sandy
  • Stacy Gilchrist as Melissa
  • Joey Garfield as Jeff
  • Christian Murphy as Dusty
  • Roy Hytower as Nathan


Director Gary Sherman thought the idea having the setting in the city was just as scary as isolated suburbia. His feeling was that there are people on the other side of the wall, and no one cares that you are in trouble.[1]

All the special effects were live and were performed on stage. The only post-productional visual effect was the lightning casting over the John Hancock Center in the very final shot of the picture.

Corey Burton also provided some uncredited voice work for Kane.[citation needed]


O'Rourke's death & a new ending

By the time production started for Poltergeist III began in April of 1987, Heather O'Rourke had been ill for several months at the time, with what was eventually misdiagnosed as Crohn's disease, and subsequently underwent medical treatment during parts of the filming, which took place in Chicago. Principal photography for the film lasted between April and June of that year, with June 1988 as its scheduled release date. After Heather completed filming, she returned home to California, with her illness apparently in remission. However in late January 1988, she became ill again, only this time she did not recover. Heather died on February 1, 1988, during Poltergeist 3's post-production period, only 36 days after her 12th birthday.

Prior to O'Rourke's death, the studio requested the ending of the film be reshot. However, with her death, this made filming a new ending very difficult given how central her character was to the film. Rather than cancel the project with so much of the film already completed, the ending was written in a way that a body double could be used in place of O'Rourke. This is why Carol Anne's face is never seen when she comes back from the Other Side during the finale of the movie. A dedication to Heather appears near the end of the closing credits of the film.

Critical reception

The film recieved generally negative reviews from critics, resulting in a 15% rating on Meanwhile, Zelda Rubinstein's performance was given generally mixed reviews, causing to grant both nominations for a Saturn and a Razzie Award (which she also received previously for the first sequel) at the same time. However, despite the mainly negative reviews for the film overall, a great deal of the film's small amount of praise went primarily to Heather O'Rourke's performance.

Box office

While Poltergeist III did make its $10.5 million production back, it was the lowest grossing film out of the three films in the Poltergeist trilogy. The film made $4,344,308 on its opening weekend, averaging $2,953 from 1,471 theaters. The film amassed $14,114,488 domestically, making it a moderate box office disappointment.[2] at the US box office.

See also


  1. ^ E: True Hollywood Story: Curse of Poltergeist
  2. ^ Poltergeist III (1988)

External links


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