This sequel to Poltergeist uses a witchy brew to create its horrors: an emphasis on second sight and father rage from The Shining, a religious cult leader similar to Jim Jones, and an Indian wizard who seems to have taken a few lessons from Carlos Castenada's medicine man. Along with these ingredients are an explicitly 1980s message: the family that bonds together through the power of love can overcome any evil.

Steve Freeling (Craig T. Nelson), his wife Diane (JoBeth Williams), and their two children have moved in with grandma (Geraldine Fitzgerald). This time, the malevolent spirits contact them via young Carol Anne's (Heather O'Rourke) toy phone. Kane (Julian beck), the head of these demonic forces, has assumed the form of a minister who wants to help the Freelings.

But the frantic family already has two helpmates — the psychic Tangina Barrons (Zelda Rubinstein) and an Indian Shaman (Will Sampson) who are determined to keep these underworld creatures from taking Carol Anne Away.

Steven King has written about this genre of moviemaking: "Within the framework of most horror tales we find a moral code so strong it would make a Puritan smile." Poltergeist II ends with a celebration of family togetherness that even Cotton Mather would find salutary.