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Poltergeist II: The Other Side
1986 Intrada
and Varèse

1993 Intrada

2003 Varèse

2013 Kritzerland

Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:
Jerry Goldsmith

Orchestrated by:
Arthur Morton

Labels and Dates:
Intrada Records and
Varèse Sarabande

Intrada Records
(November, 1993)

Varèse Sarabande
(October 14th, 2003)

(October 8th, 2013)

Also See:

Audio Clips:
2003 Varèse Album:

4. Late Call (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

7. The Visitor (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

8. Wild Braces (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (243K)
Real Audio (151K)

10. The Smoke (0:30):
WMA (195K)  MP3 (241K)
Real Audio (150K)

The original 1986 album (Intrada in the U.S. and Varèse Sarabande elsewhere) is long out of print and gone from the market. The "limited edition" Intrada album from 1993 (2,000 copies pressed) had considerable value after it disappeared as well, but the "deluxe edition" from Varèse Sarabande in 2003 (a regular U.S. release) reduced the value of all the albums to normal prices. The expanded 2013 Kritzerland album is a product limited to an inadequate 1,500 copies, originally offered for $20 but selling out immediately and escalating in value to $30 or more.


Poltergeist II: The Other Side

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Buy it... on the 2003 or 2013 albums to rectify the issue of incomplete presentations with prior products if you desire one of Jerry Goldsmith's more noteworthy horror scores.

Avoid it... on the 2013 Kritzerland album specifically if you expect to find significant new material beyond that of the 2003 offering, or if you prefer the intensity of the action sequences heard during Goldsmith's first Poltergeist score.

Poltergeist II: The Other Side: (Jerry Goldsmith) Disaster not only followed the Freeling family in the Poltergeist franchise of films, but the productions and their actors as well. After the huge fiscal and popular success of Poltergeist in 1982, a sequel was inevitable, but the collaboration of the same cast and crew would prove to be daunting. The production process for the sequel was badly plagued, from the battle for control over the picture to the death of some of the franchise's key actors. By the end of the Poltergeist trilogy, four primary actors were dead, including Heather O'Rourke, who portrayed the famous, clairvoyant little girl, Carol Anne. Despite all of these real life hauntings, the franchise forged ahead, and Poltergeist II: The Other Side was billed as having the most spectacular special effects ever to be seen in a horror film. Despite these bone-chilling visuals, however, the film suffered from a poor script, ambivalent audience response, and a lack of fresh ideas (the quality of the stories in each successive film in the franchise diminished as well). Signed on late in the process was composer Jerry Goldsmith, whose superb score for the first film had been deservedly nominated for an Academy Award. Writing music for the sequel over the 1985 holiday season, Goldsmith decided to match the film's increased technical intensity by himself raising the stakes with his instrumental ensemble. He set out to combine the best of The Omen, Poltergeist, and his concurrent electronics-heavy scores into one gargantuan effort. When critics seemingly uniformly pounded on the film at its 1986 release debut, Goldsmith's score was spared much of the criticism, often praised for its ambitious achievements compared to other, lackluster production features.

In Poltergeist II, Goldsmith added five new themes to the two that are reprised from the first film, with each of the new characters represented by a strong thematic voice. The evil spirit of Kane, disguised as a reverend who offers help to the troubled family (and played by theatrical legend Julian Beck, who likewise died before this film's opening), is particularly well developed in the work, enhancing the character's menacing presence in the film. The score for Poltergeist II is therefore a piece of music very well developed in its constructs. By the end of the soundtrack, your mind boggles with the amount of diversity in the major themes and minor motifs for the film, and this complexity yields both the greatest strengths and weaknesses of the work. Much of the intense attention to two or three particular themes from the original film is lost in Poltergeist II, allowing the subsequent identities to be somewhat watered down at times. But you nevertheless have to give Goldsmith top grades in his effort to expand upon a set of stationary characters. The subtlest effect here is the use of a trombone for Kane; when he first visits the Freeling family, his motif is introduced in the form of a distant, dying propeller blade, not chopping in the foreground, but diving over the horizon in a repetitive, ominous note. Also in the cue "The Visitor," Goldsmith builds the character's evil persona to such a degree that the music resorts to outright male yelling straight from the underworld after four minutes of the suspicious trombone effects described above. The themes for the mystical Indian shaman, Taylor, as well as Grandma Jess, are substantial but never expressed in competition with the quality of the themes from the first film. The most effective motif for Poltergeist II, ironically, is the least sophisticated addition to the equation: outwardly chanted horror.

Goldsmith returns to explosions of liturgical choral chants like those heard in The Omen when the ghosts of the underworld catch up to Carol Anne through her toy telephone (the family was thankfully smart enough to go to a place where there are no televisions). While effective, these cues are somewhat over the top compared to surrounding material. In its first four major cues, the score rumbles in an awkward stance, not able to provide comfort to the audience because of the impending terror, but not able to dive into the horror material immediately, either. Finally, with "They're Back," Goldsmith lets it all loose, and between this cue and "Wild Braces" (known as "Dental Problems" on earlier albums), the chanting provides a truly enticing atmosphere for the horror. A less creepy reprise of girl's chorus for "Carol Anne's Theme" (without the troubling laughter at the conclusion this time) is once again heard over the end credits to wrap up the sequel. Collectors of Goldsmith's music will remark that Poltergeist II is mostly an exhibit of the composer's talents with the synthesizers. As the composer stated at the time, he was experimenting with electronics as an additional section of the orchestra. More than many of his other scores, Poltergeist II is explicitly intricate in this integration. At every moment there is the use of an electronic element, whether as a feathery effect in the background or an ear-piercing slash in the foreground. As in Legend (composed within a year of this project), these electronics would sometimes hinder the listening experience in regards to the orchestral material. But their existence makes sense, given the poltergeists' methods of contacting Carol Anne through technology. That said, some listeners may find the constantly rough edge of the majority of the synthetic effects to be overly grating, overshadowing the organic elements during key sequences.

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At times, the electronics are brilliantly employed, including the synthetic imitation of blowing wind (and thus passing spirits) heard in "The Worm" and other cues, but Poltergeist II also shows Goldsmith's sometimes overzealous experimentation with electronics. In their favor, Goldsmith sacrifices the best element of the first Poltergeist score: the rolling string and brass motif of the horrific climax. Even in the film's return to the old house lot, Goldsmith fails to bring a reminder of this idea to a rolling boil, as he had done so well in the first score. Thus, the element of creativity is somewhat heightened, but outside of the outward chanting, the horror is diminished. On album, Poltergeist II has had a storied history due to long shared rights between Intrada Records and Varèse Sarabande. They released five cues on a very early CD in 1986 (the former domestically, the latter internationally). This woefully short album was replaced by a 1993 Intrada release limited to 2,000 copies. It featured most of the score, save one cue of significance. That cue, the essential "The Visitor," and an extra minute in another cue, would finally bring the score to its "Deluxe Edition" format from Varèse Sarabande in 2003, coinciding with an MGM release of the film on DVD. With the 1986 products being unacceptably short and the 1993 Intrada album hopelessly gone from the market, the 2003 Varèse album was a good buy. In 2013, the Kritzerland label expanded the presentation even more, adding several bonus tracks (basically focusing on choral overlays) and a source track, though the label did not press enough copies for the demand and the product sold out quickly. No matter which album you seek, Poltergeist II is too scattered to match the intensity of its predecessor. It's a solid work, and it will certainly be interesting for Goldsmith collectors in its integration of electronics into the orchestra, but the comprehensive albums for Poltergeist remain a better option if you were to choose one from the series. *** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For Jerry Goldsmith reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.26 (in 113 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.26 (in 138,497 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.18 Stars
Smart Average: 3.13 Stars*
***** 81 
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    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
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   Don't listen to at night..
  dts -- 9/25/06 (11:10 p.m.)
   Surprisingly good!
  Rende -- 8/25/06 (6:32 a.m.)
   What an excellent score - I love it
  Jayce Barrons -- 11/9/03 (3:16 p.m.)
   A great "classic" score
  Matt Johnston -- 11/9/03 (3:12 p.m.)
   Re: A Fantastic Score!
  ryan -- 11/8/03 (10:58 a.m.)
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 Track Listings (1986 Intrada/Varèse Albums): Total Time: 29:24

• 1. The Power (7:42)
• 2. Late Call (3:22)
• 3. The Smoke (4:36)
• 4. The Worm (5:13)
• 5. Reaching Out (8:29)

 Track Listings (1993 Intrada Album): Total Time: 53:31

• 1. The Power (7:48)
• 2. The Gift (1:58)
• 3. Where are You? (2:10)
• 4. Late Call (3:28)
• 5. They're Back (3:39)
• 6. The Butterflies (0:51)
• 7. Dental Problems (2:19)
• 8. The Plan (3:17)
• 9. The Smoke (4:45)
• 10. The Worm/Vomit Creature (8:07)
• 11. Back to Cuesta Verde (3:16)
• 12. Reaching Out (8:31)
• 13. Carol Anne's Theme (3:05)

 Track Listings (2003 Varèse Sarabande Album): Total Time: 61:19

• 1. The Power (7:48)
• 2. Things (1:59)
• 3. The Mall (2:10)
• 4. Late Call (3:28)
• 5. They're Back (3:38)
• 6. Butterflies (0:50)
• 7. The Visitor* (6:40)
• 8. Wild Braces (2:19)
• 9. Leave Us Alone** (4:14)
• 10. The Smoke (4:45)
• 11. The Worm (8:06)
• 12. Back to Cuesta Verde (3:16)
• 13. Reaching Out (8:31)
• 14. Carol Anne's Theme (3:05)

* previously unreleased music
** contains previously unreleased music

 Track Listings (2013 Kritzerland Set): Total Time: 94:50

CD 1: (64:04)
• 1. The Power (7:52)
• 2. Things (2:02)
• 3. The Mall (2:14)
• 4. The Past (0:29)
• 5. Late Call 03:29)
• 6. The Dream (0:41)
• 7. Clouds/It's No Use (3:41)
• 8. Take Care (0:34)
• 9. Butterflies (0:54)
• 10. The Visitor (6:43)
• 11. Wild Braces (2:22)
• 12. Leave Us Alone (4:16)
• 13. The Smoke (4:48)
• 14. The Drink (0:51)
• 15. The Worm/Out of the Ceiling (8:09)
• 16. Faces/Back to Cuesta Verde (3:19)
• 17. Reaching Out (8:35)
• 18. End Title (Carol Anne's Theme) (3:07)
CD 2: (30:46)
• 1. Wild Braces (Film Version) (2:22)
• 2. The Worm (Film Version) (8:09)
• 3. The Visitor (Without Choir) (6:43)
• 4. The Smoke (Without Choir) (4:48)
• 5. The Dream (Alternate Version) (0:41)
• 6. Late Call (With Toy Telephone Sound Effect) (3:28)
• 7. It's No Use (Choir Track) (1:05)
• 8. Star Spangled Banner (3:30)

 Notes and Quotes:  

With the exception of the 1986 albums, the inserts of all the releases include detailed information about the score and film, though the 2013 Kritzerland set's notes are not as comprehensive. For some reason, Varèse Sarabande dropped "The Other Side" from the title of the film on its 2003 album.

  All artwork and sound clips from Poltergeist II: The Other Side are Copyright © 1986, 1993, 2003, 2013, Intrada Records and Varèse Sarabande, Intrada Records, Varèse Sarabande, Kritzerland. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 10/22/03 and last updated 1/30/14. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2003-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved. Note to men: It is not recommended that you joyously play the "Vomit Creature" cue from this soundtrack while your wife is actively suffering from morning sickness due to pregnancy. Yelling may ensue.