I decided to ask the good people of Twitter to vote for two films from every year I’ve aimlessly been wandering the planet. I set up two polls and I’d watch and review the winner of each from 1981 hopefully right through until the current day. I was hoping to fill the polls with either classic films, ones I’d never seen or ones I’d not watched for a long time. So far the picks were great you can read 1981 winners An American Werewolf In London and The Beyond by clicking their links! But any way now it was time to watch the first winner Poltergeist…………….
Director – Tobe Hooper
Writers – Steven Spielberg, Michael Grais and Mark Victor
Stars – Craig T Nelson, JoBeth Williams, Beatrice Straight, Dominique Dunne, Oliver Robins, Heather O’Rourke, Michael McManus and Virginia Kiser.
Run Time – 114 minutes
Budget – $10.7 million estimated
Tagline – They’re Here
Trivia – Heather O’Rourke, who played the little girl Carol-Anne, and Dominique Dunne, who played the teenage daughter, are buried in the same cemetery: Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles. Dunne was strangled into brain-death by her boyfriend in 1982, the year of the film’s release. Six years later, O’Rourke died of intestinal stenosis.
Trivia – During all the horrors that proceeded while filming Poltergeist (1982), only one scene really scared Heather O’Rourke: that in which she had to hold onto the headboard, while a wind machine blew toys into the closet behind her. She fell apart; Steven Spielberg stopped everything, took her in his arms, and said that she would not have to do that scene again.
Whenever I think of horror films I think The Exorcist, Halloween, Friday the 13th, Hellraiser, Nightmare on Elm Street and Poltergeist although this film doesn’t seem to receive as much credit as other horror movies of it’s time. Sure it’s well thought of but it could do with a bit more love, in my opinion it’s a great haunting film with effects that are and were well ahead of it’s time.
Like all haunting and ghosty films the premise is simple but also pretty unique. Carol Anne starts to worry her family when she watches the static stations on TV and talks to the TV, as I’m sure that’d upset any one. After a while things in the house start to move around on their own and it’s a fun experience for the family.
However, as is the key to a great haunting film these things build up until they’re out of control. The furniture moves into strange positions within the blink of an eye but everything culminates with Carol Anne the youngest daughter being snatched during the night and taken to another level of existence through a portal in her closet.
These creatures really mean business and the family end up inviting in a crew to investigate the hauntings without even contacting the police for fear of not being taken seriously. All Diane and Steve Freeling want to do is get their daughter back and keep their other kids safe. This pushes them to hire a medium to help them at the request of the team investigating the hauntings.
The medium performs an exorcism on the house she is a character that has been mocked in many films since most notable is probably Ace Ventura’s this house is clear scene. The thing this film does well is the reveal of why the poltergeist is haunting this family and this house. I didn’t really see it coming at all, it all leads to a rescue attempt of Carol Anne and an all out action scene that reveals what’s going on.
- Solid acting all round.
- As I mentioned key to any haunting film is the build of ghostly events and this does that expertly.
- The story really expands well as the film goes on and the hauntings make perfect sense.
- The effects! I didn’t remember how many there were in this film and they still look pretty good today. They must have seemed amazing in the early 80’s.
- The film creates a perfect family atmosphere among with kids and parents. Sometimes in films these things feel forced but with the Freeling family it’s easy to view them as a real family from petty arguments to the Father falling asleep watching sports, it all feels real.
- The tree scene is awesome.
- I loved the introduction of the ghost hunter type team, their reactions to what they end up seeing compared to what they thought was funny.
- The medium/psychic that comes to help them.
Although this film isn’t perfect there’s not really anything bad I can think of at all, the pacing is great, the acting, the effects, the haunting events are all spot on. As I said it’s not total perfection but it is one pretty good fecking film, every horror fan should see this.
Overall Rating – 9/10