Quick recap: A normal suburban family has to deal with the fact that something in their house wants to harm them. What starts out as supernatural pranking (chairs moving on their own) turns into a nightmare when the youngest daughter gets taken away by the poltergeist.
Fun (?) Fact: Many people believe the film is cursed because real skeletons were used in the swimming pool scene instead of fake ones (they were cheaper). During the franchise’s history, the actor who played Carol Anne died at 13 and the actor who played the oldest daughter was murdered. Seems to me everyone should’ve heeded their own advice and refrained from messing with the dead.
My thoughts: There is a rule of childhood that says at some point in your life, you will spend all your waking time attempting to scare yourself to death. I have vivid memories of riding my bike to the local video store and perusing the Horror section, trying to find something that would traumatize me. Despite the myriad of choices, I always settled on ‘It’ because there was nothing in the world more scary than clowns living in the gutter and killing children. If I had bothered to branch out once in awhile, this movie would’ve indeed been at the top of my list for creating terrifying nightmares.
If I was in the business of cremation, I would totally use parts of this movie as advertising against burial. The whole plot of Poltergeist centers on houses being built on top of an old burial site so if cremation had been more popular a long time ago, this whole thing wouldn’t have happened. In all seriousness, cremation solves so many problems! Besides haunting, it also helps cut down on land being used for cemeteries as well as prevents a future zombie outbreak.
Although there was nothing that truly scared me, there were plenty of creepy scenes. The ‘scariest’ part for me was probably the scenes when Carol Anne was talking through the tv, especially when she says she is scared of another person with her. It reminded me of the book, ‘House of Leaves’, which is about a house that is bigger on the inside than outside (no, not the TARDIS). There are a few scenes in the book where the inhabitants are able to hear people talking and know they are inside the house, even though no one can find where the voices are coming from.
In the category of ‘ easy things that could’ve prevented everything from happening’, those children sure did have some creepy toys. I mean, who in their right mind would think that clown doll was appropriate for a child? At that point, you are just asking for it. I did appreciate the C-3P0 light switch that looked like a demon in later scenes, though.
As an adult, Poltergeist didn’t really scare me so much as make me think, ‘What the hell would I do in this situation?’ It was fascinating to think how a changed perspective can still make a movie scary, but in a completely different way. I think what terrifies me most is the idea that I’m the one in charge now. I have a 4 year old that I would do ANYTHING for, so it was completely realistic to see how the parents reacted during the film. When the movie was over, I turned off the lights and my heart began to race a little but then I went and checked on my son who was fast asleep and I felt fine.
Final review: 4/5. A near perfect horror film. It was a great mix of over the top terror and excellent effects.
Nightmares: of course! It took me awhile to fall asleep and once I did, I can’t remember anything specific. I did however, wake up a few times in the night to a sense of dread.
Up next: more Horrorfest!