Pop Junk’s 31 Days of Halloween: #18: Poltergeist
Poltergeist is a 1982 American horror film directed by Tobe Hooper (Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and produced by Steven Spielberg and is the first and most successful film of the Poltergeist film trilogy. The movie is set in a small town in California and the story focuses on a family whose home is invaded by malevolent ghosts. At first the family is intrigued with the idea, but then things go bad when their youngest daughter is taken by the spirits.
This movie has a ton of iconic scenes that transend the movie itself. The first apperance of the ghosts occurs inside the televison set after the sign off. this scene is a true piece of pop culture when the youngest daughter Carol-Anne communicates with the spirits and one emerges from the TV set and flies across the room into a wall causing a massive earthquake inside the house. Sitting infront of the TV Carol Anne looks up at her parents and proclaims “They’re here” After the arrival of the ghosts in the house things seem playful as they move chairs and utensiles, but then things get a little crazy when a Tree attempts to eat the son and Carol Anne is taken by the spirits into an unknown portal.
This leads to a paranoral investigative team being called in who really seemed to be in over their heads as they become to prey to the ghosts in the house. One notable scene that used to freak me out as a kid was when one of the team members tears pieces of his face off in the sink. Now it looks pretty fake but as a kid, ho boy was that fuckin terrifying.
Moving on…the assembled group discovers that the entrance to the other dimension is through the children’s bedroom closet, while the exit is through the living room ceiling. As the group attempts to rescue Carol Anne, Diane passes through the entrance tied by a rope that has been threaded through both portals. Diane manages to retrieve Carol Anne, and they both drop to the floor from the ceiling unconscious. As they recover, Tangina the groups Clairvoyant proclaims afterward that the house is now “clean”. When you think it’s all wrapped up the family spends one last night in the house (Yeah, I know!) and the house attempts to take the children one last night. As the family escapes the house, the rotting corpses of the dead bodies that the house was built over begins to emerge from the earth. This leads to my favorite film as Craig T. Nelson who plays the father grabs his boss who was responsible for the neighborhood being built over a cemetery and screams madly “You moved the head stones but you didn’t move the bodies!…WHY!?” Fuckin’ awesome.
The sequels aren’t very interesting but what is interesting is the supposed curse that follows the actors and production of the film. Questionable production choices like using actual corpses as props, and the deaths that followed the actors through out the next few films. Extremely interesting and also very depressing as some of the actors lost their lives at an early age.
That aside, this movie was a huge hit in the early 80’s and is set the standard for ghost haunting in film from here on in and is still scaring audiences to this day.