31 Favorites #17: Poltergeist


Poltergeist is a classic for a reasons, and that reason is because it's awesome. And it's scary. And it's every suburbanites worst nightmare. It may seem quite tame by today's standards, but Poltergeist was a game changer in 1982 when it was released. Here was a horror film that took place squarely in the suburbs, a location that was generally considered a safe haven.

The Freeling family moves into a nice house in a lovely subdevelopment featuring all of the benefits of suburban living. After some strange occurences around the home, the family is thrust into full on horror when they ultimately discover that spirits are trying to take their youngest child, Carol Anne.

Poltergeist is a curious film, partially due to the directing "team." Though Tobe Hooper is credited as sole director, many close to the project say that screenplay writer Steven Spielberg (who was working on E.T. at the time and was contractually obligated to stay away from other projects) had a much larger role in the film's direction. This is pretty evident in the movie's style and storyline, which mixes the wholesomeness of Spielberg's films, with Hooper's - the same guy who gave us Texas Chainsaw Massacre - bouts of terror.

Three Things I Love About It:

  1. You can really see the handiwork of both directors in the film, and it's a beautiful, unique thing.
  2. Poltergeist feels entirely of its time. Released in the heyday of family sitcoms and post urban white flight, it's like watching a time capsule.
  3. I adore the early scenes in the film when the communication with the ghosts seems like a novelty. There's a sweet simplicity, and horror, in the scenes where Carol Ann is being shuttled around on floors, and chairs are being stacked by unseen forces. The terrors that follow are magnified by these almost endearing family bonding moments.