The original cast returns, bringing the warmth of their familial bond, as does a welcome Jerry Goldsmith, but this never shakes the feeling of being an inferior xerox copy of the original, thanks in large part to a flawed script. I also find it humorous that a movie that so staunchly reinforces traditional Christian values features a scene where a tequila worm transforms into an Eldritch Abomination. Go figure.
Rather than use the film to explore 'the other side' as a kind of sentient, metaphysical space (analogous to 'the further' of Insidious or 'the black lodge' of Twin Peaks) the filmmakers are content to rehash the domestic melodrama of the original; upping the ante in terms of over-the-top special effects but adding little in the way of terror or suspense. Only Julian Beck as the film's antagonist hits the right note.
Sequel tries to expand on the story of the original and tell how it happened to be such a haunted house and ghost activity there in the first place. The use of the Indian helper feel out-of-place and make the film feel more like a spiritual fantasy. Even Jerry Goldsmith's music is pretty uneventful in this one but the old crazed cult leader scared the living shit out of me when I was young.
"Steven, you were never a hippie. You were always into making money." I appreciated that Craig T. Nelson's hair had receded in sympathetic alignment with his character. The film is kind of the 'Temple of Doom' to the original Poltergeist's 'Raiders' - gross-out special effects interspersed with toothsome sentimentalism w/ an undercurrent of dubious racial politics. Julian Beck's brilliant though and genuinely scary.