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Poltergeist III (1988)

Paranormal service is resumed. This time in Chicago’s skyscraping Hancock Building.

Bruce Gardner (Tom Skerritt) is the maintenance manager there. Pat (Nancy Allen) is his wife, and their visiting niece is – guess who – Carol Anne Freeling (Heather O’Rourke), the child who vanished into a television in the original Poltergeist in 1982. She’s older now, and plumper and dismayingly more charmless.

Bruce and Patricia provide a TV to tempt her but she prefers to stick around causing cracked mirrors, mysterious fires and the return of the ghoulish multi-dimensional preacher, Reverend Henry Kane (see Poltergeist II).

O’Rourke plays a dual role and is stunningly believable as a young child who must outfight and outthink an evil that threatens to engulf her.

Zelda Rubinstein is back again as Tangina, the munchkin psychic, and her acting is as flawless as O’Rourke’s. The visual effects alas, are poor and tend to pop up with no discernible narrative logic.

Writer/director Gary Sherman once made the memorable Death Line (1972) but this is an end-of-the-line movie he and we may prefer to forget.

It’s hardly a fitting swan song for child actor Heather O’Rourke who passed away in February 1988 after suffering a cardiac arrest following emergency intestinal surgery barely a month after her 12th birthday.

O’Rourke became ill in 1987 with giardiasis, which she contracted from well water at her family’s home in Big Bear Lake. She was subsequently diagnosed as having Crohn’s disease and received cortisone injections to treat the disease. The steroid injections caused the facial swelling of her cheeks while she was filming Poltergeist III, which she was very self-conscious about.

Bruce Gardner
Tom Skerritt
Patricia Gardner
Nancy Allen
Carol Anne Freeling
Heather O’Rourke
Tangina Barrons 
Zelda Rubinstein
Donna Gardner
Lara Flynn Boyle
Dr Seaton
Richard Fire
Kip Wentz
Reverend Henry Kane
Nathan Davis
Roger May
Paul Graham
Meg Weldon
Stacy Gilchrist
Joey Garfield
Christian Murphy
Roy Hytower

Gary Sherman