poltergeistMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
1982
R

“It lies to her. It tells her things only a child can understand. It has been using her to restrain the others. To her, it simply is another child. To us, it is The Beast.”

Years – decades, even – before this recent glut of crappy “haunting” movies started clogging up the horror section at the video stores, there was this nifty little haunted house / malevolent spirits movie that managed to scare the earwax out of everyone who watched it much more effectively than any of those so-called “based on a true story” movies we’re getting nowadays. And, they did so with just a PG rating, if you can believe that.

In Poltergeist, Steven and Diane Freeling are a happy, successful American married couple, raising three children in their new planned community home in California. Steven is a real estate developer, and everything is just hunky-dory…until one night their youngest child, Carol Anne, starts acting a bit odd. She awakens at night to hold conversations with the static on their television, to which she utters her famous line, “They’re here.” The next day, even more weird stuff starts happening in the house: glasses break suddenly, silverware bends, and chairs and other random bits of furniture move around on their own. And then the tree tries to eat their middle child, while Carol Anne is sucked inside a portal in her bedroom closet. A bunch of parapsychologists from the nearby college are called in, where they determine it’s not one apparition, but a bunch of them. That’s when Steven discovers that the housing development was built upon a cemetery where only the headstones were moved, not the bodies. Lovely. I think that’s Rule #1 from the How Not To Get A Haunted House handbook, “Don’t Build On A Cemetery”. Anyway, they then call in the medium (spiritualist medium, not a dig at her physical stature) Tangia Barrons, who proceeds to succeed in getting Carol Anne back, but not until after a bunch of weird, mind-bendy things happen. After everything is declared “clean”, the family starts packing things up to move, but then the demon that started all of the wackiness tries for a second kidnapping, resulting in the infamous scene that kick-started several generations of fearing clowns and clown dolls…and dolls in general. *shiver* As the family struggles to escape, skeletons and coffins begin erupting out from the ground everywhere, and the family makes it out and away before the house is sucked into the portal inside the closet. The end…until the sequel, that is.

The original 1982 Poltergeist is a classic in horror movie making. The reason behind this lies in the fact that Steven Spielberg – who had already floored audiences with Jaws, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, Raiders Of The Lost Ark and E. T., among others – had a hand in the overall story and writing the screenplay, not to mention producing the thing. Sure, Tobe Hooper directed the thing, but let’s face it: Poltergeist is a Steven Spielberg horror flick from when he was at his peak.

What more can I say, really, that hasn’t already been said about the movie? It’s one that gets shown periodically in Uncle NecRo’s movie dungeon, and still holds up. The effects are still effective, with several that still evoke nightmare fuel. This movie is the reason I still don’t like to clean under my bed, well into adulthood.

Poltergeist is a classic. Forget about the remake, that one doesn’t exist in my reality. If you haven’t had the pleasure yet, check it out. Highly recommended.

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