The biggest thing haunting POLTERGEIST II is the law of diminishing returns of sequels. This 1986 follow up has the entire cast back from the original, some decent pre-CGI effects and a truly creepy villain, but still....
The Freeling Family, led by Steve and Diane (Craig T Nelson & JoBeth Williams) have moved the family in with Diane's mother Gramma Jess (the terrific Geraldine Fitzgerald). Carol Anne (Heather O'Rourke) and Robbie (Oliver Robins) seem none the worse for wear.
However, the spirits that nabbed Carol Anne in the original are soon back for more. Most of the in-home hauntings aren't quite as effective as the first film, with Robbie's braces attacking him and enveloping him in wire and spirits coming out of Carol Anne's toy phone. Meh...
Will Sampson is on hand as Taylor, a Native American in tune with demons. He'll need everything he's got against Reverend Kane.
Kane is the spiritual leader of the large group of spirits looking to head "into the light" but lost due to his evil ways. Julian Beck plays Kane with true menace and oozes evil. His acting is scarier than any special effect. Beck was dying of cancer when filming and his gaunt, haunted look is truly disturbing.
The film collapses into a pretty silly third act with the family floating through the spirit world like a lost scene from Superman with only Jerry Goldsmith's great music and a couple of solid gross out moments to propel them.
Any movie with a character called the Vomit Monster can't be a total waste of time. You'll never look at that worm in a tequila bottle the same way.
By turns menacing, stupid, funny, dull and dumb, Poltergeist II is a mere shadow of the original. We had no idea just how bad Poltergeist sequels could actually be until the next sequel. As far as Number Two goes, it barely scares up a B- and that's only due to Beck and his scary final performance.