Poltergeist (1982)

DVD Cover (Warner Brother)
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Overall Rating 78%
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Ranked #873
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Connections: Poltergeist

A young family are visited by ghosts in their home. At first the ghosts appear friendly, moving objects around the house to the amusement of everyone, then they turn nasty and start to terrorize the family before they "kidnap" the youngest daughter. --IMDb
Craig T. Nelson
Craig T. Nelson
JoBeth Williams
JoBeth Williams
Beatrice Straight
Beatrice Straight
Dominique Dunne
Dominique Dunne
Oliver Robins
Oliver Robins
Review by Tristan
Added: November 05, 2007
When I was younger, very few movies scared me. Sure there was some stuff that gave me nightmares, like the Rancor in Return of the Jedi, or the heads melting at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, but overall, these were just terrifying images that burned themselves into my brain. Poltergeist on the other hand, scared me for years, and even now, 25 years after its release, it still creeps me out.

Steve Freeling (Craig T Nelson) is a successful real estate agent who has truly "made it". He has a nice house, a beautiful wife (Jobeth Williams), and adorable kids. Everything seems to be hunky dory until one night, after the late shows have stopped broadcasting, a mysterious presence enters the master bedroom through the TV. They are woken up by a loud crashing, a flash of light and their daughter Carol Anne's (Heather O'Rourke) timeless line, "They're here."

As the Freelings go about their daily routines, they start to notice strange occurrences. They start off small, cupboards opening on their own, chairs moving away from the table. Soon they're living right up poltergeist alley, as ancient trinkets start falling from the ceiling, and their kitchen floor turns into a slide. All this entertainment is short lived however, as one night during a terrible storm, a large tree takes it upon himself to try and eat their son Robby (Oliver Robbins). While Steve and his wife Diane try and save their son, their daughter Carol Anne is kidnapped by the poltergeists, and taken into another dimension through her toy closet. Kidnapped might not be the right word, but I can't think of any other way to put it.

So a tree tried to eat your son, and your daughter has been kidnapped by poltergeists. You can't exactly call the police for this one. The Freelings felt this way too, and decided to instead contact Dr. Lesh (Beatrice Straight) and her assistants to look into the paranormal activity in their home. Even this isn't enough though, as Dr Lesh enlists the help of Tangina (Zelda Rubinstein) a spiritual medium who informs the Freelings that their daughter is alive and in some dimension or another, inside this house.

So as to not spoil anymore of the film, I shall wrap up my summary. For the very few of you who are unacquainted with this movie, that should be enough to get you hooked. Although I highly doubt there are still people who haven't seen this movie, considering its huge fanbase for the last 20+ years.

Some people think he's a bit of a ham, but I can't get enough of Craig T. Nelson. I'll admit he had a few cheesy spots in this one, but overall he was very convincing. At the very least, it certainly wasn't a stretch of the imagination to think he was the father and head of this family. JoBeth Williams also did a fantastic job as the tormented and terrified mother who would never give up fighting for her daughter. Heather O'Rourke, while not having much screen time, was perfect as the innocent and adorable Carol Anne. And who, who, could forget Zelda Rubinstein. I don't know where they found this woman, but she made this movie, hands down. She was perfect for this role. Everything from her childlike voice to her petite stature made her a perfect choice to play the medium. If you don't know what a medium is, Google it.

Now I know that Tobe Hooper's credited as the director, and while I love the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, there is no fucking way he directed this entire movie. It is leaps and bounds beyond anything he could hope to accomplish as a director. TCM was fantastic, this I know. But if you look at anything Hooper has done since, it's pretty much all garbage. Move down the credits list and you'll come across Stephen Spielberg's name in the producer's slot. I think we can all agree that he had massive input in this film. This seems more like his type of movie, and while I can appreciate that Hooper probably had a part in this, I will just assume that Spielberg directed the majority of this movie. If not, he at least was responsible for how all of the visual and special effects looked.

For those of you unfamiliar with Industrial Light & Magic, they are the visual effects company behind some of the biggest movies in film history. A few little titles you might have heard of include Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, The Neverending Story, you know, the obscure stuff. These effects were breathtaking in 1982, and they are equally stunning today. While some of the effects come off a little cheesy, like something you'd expect to see from a Casper cartoon, with ghosts floating through keyholes, most of it was very realistic and very scary. C'mon, a giant, gnarled tree that tries to eat a kid? Scary stuff. Also the various demons and beasts they see when trying to get near Carol Anne's closet are terrifying, especially for a young kid.

Considering this is one of the first horror movies I can truly remember seeing, and how much it scared me as a kid, I knew that I had to get it on here. Normally these kinds of movies aren't my thing, but since it's just as creepy today as it was all those years ago, this is one of my favourite horror movies. Some people think that the Poltergeist Curse makes this movie even scarier. I think it was just a lot of coincidence and unfortunate circumstance. If you don't know what the Poltergeist Curse is, Google it. All curses and directing disputes aside, this movie is a horror classic and belongs on the shelf of any self respecting horror fan.

bluemeanie #1: bluemeanie - added 11/05/2007, 12:12 PM
Yeah, it's common knowledge. Spielberg directed more of this film than Hooper did. Spielberg is dripping off just about every scene in this film. What makes this film a masterpiece is that it fires on so many different levels. It defies genres. It owns. 10/10.
Griffinheart #2: Griffinheart - added 11/05/2007, 02:39 PM
Excellent movie despite the freaky midget medium.
Ginose #3: Ginose - added 07/28/2008, 05:24 PM
I'll beleive it when Hooper (or even Speilberg, for that matter) admit it, Billy Ray.
Love this movie, never cared for it as a horror movie, as it didn't do much to scare me (even as a child) but, simply put, the effects blew me away. To this day, the performances and visual splendor take me in the best way. Not a perfect movie, but definately a good time.

Chad #4: Chad - added 12/26/2011, 12:45 AM
I guess I'm going to be the odd man out here, but I didn't think the movie was anything special aside from the special effects. Take those out of the equation, and you're left with a movie that is just sort of there - it's not bad, but it's far from great. I had fond memories of this as well, but watching it again today, I just don't see what the fuss was about. 6/10.

Oh, and I also hate it when the score overwhelms the dialogue in a movie, and that happens constantly throughout this one. Annoying.
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