Retro Reviews: Poltergeist (1982)

“They’re here!” sings little Carole Anne Freeling as she stares at the white, noisy static coming from the family television set. At this moment we are right there along with her parents in realizing something has been visiting the 5-year-old via that medium. From then on- things get pretty spirited in the Freeling’s new dream home.

Retro Reviews: Poltergeist (1982)

Poltergeist (1982)

The very fact that the Poltergeist (1982) was produced by Stephen Spielberg and directed by Texas Chain Saw Massacre’s Tobe Hooper, should instantly clue us in that the “scary bits” will be an excellent display of special effects. In this case the haunted house is not a rambling gothic mansion with gables but a lovely home in American suburbia.

The classic scene described above immediately comes to mind for anyone that has seen the film. It haunts and sets the mood, setting us up for more to come. And the ‘more to come’ comes fast and furious. Strange occurrences get even more freaky and the little girl goes missing. Panicking in their desire to recover their youngest child, the Freelings call in professional, parapsychologist ghost experts. This is when things get really serious.

Retro Reviews: Poltergeist (1982)What makes it work so well? Seeing the horrific events through the eyes of this typical family, expertly played by relative unnknown newcomers to the movie scene. Jo Beth Williams plays mom- Diane Freeling beautifully, Craig T. Nelson- dad-Steven and their three realistic children are Dana (Dominique Dunne), Robbie (Oliver Robins) and little Carole Anne, (Heather O’Rourke). Also contributing to the believability as well as our empathy with the family as viewers, is the Freeling’s otherwise regular life in suburban California.

A noteworthy fact about the movie is that there was a certain amount of controversy over its public rating. It was given a PG rating but this was widely criticized, due to the intense and disturbing scenes of horror. It was partially due to this public reaction that the Motion Pictures Association of America, in 1984,devised ‘PG 13’- an entirely new rating category in-between PG and R.

Poltergeist was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Original Score, Best Sound Effects Editing, and Best Visual Effects. However Spielberg’s own E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) which was out that same year, ironically won all three of these nominations. Poltergeist (1982) is a classic horror film that entertains and thrills.It is a fun and scary watch. I give it a 7/10 for good horror viewing.


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    • Lin Jenkinson

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