POLTERGEIST [1982] movie review

October 22, 2011 · Print This Article

I have seen POLTERGEIST before, I just cannot remember when.  Whenever that was, which I think was in childhood, certain scenes remained with me all these years, like the evil tree, the bodies in the swimming pool and that damn clown doll.  I was hesitant to rewatch POLTEGEIST as I almost never watch horror movies and did not want to put myself through the ordeal of watching this kind of movie, but even for me it was not hard to watch.  There are no real jump out of your seat moments and the horror looks very 80s and is not so menacing.  That said, the movie holds up well and is a welcome trip back to 1982.

There is just something about an 80s movie.  Maybe people who grew up in the 70s or in the 60s feel that way about movies too.  Somehow I think not though.  I think the 80s was a transitional decade for kids where movies really started being made for them, or more specifically entire fictional worlds existed that kids could dream of being in and share with other kids in imagining the same thing because movies and TV shows made them known to kids across the country.  Then in your bedroom you had toys and action figures from those worlds, just like the kids in POLTERGEIST have plenty of STAR WARS toys.

POLTERGEIST is a virtually bloodless horror movie.  Also, no one dies.  Perhaps those two things are totally unique to it?  I think this meant the story and characters had to be strong enough on their own to provide the scares and the tension.  I think they are.

Perhaps the most shocking things I found in POLTERGEIST were not the monsters coming out of the closet, but the fact that the parents played by Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams smoked marijuana right in their bedroom only one door away from their teenage daughter’s room!  I certainly did not remember that about the movie from when I first saw it.  I cannot believe suburban parents would light up!

The next shocking thing was, you see a chair slide across your kitchen floor repeatedly.  You put your 5-year old daughter on that spot to slide her across.  You then proceed to STAY in that house.  Umm, I would have left immediately.

Then once major things happen, you count on some psychologist with a paranormal investigation hobby to help you.  I would have called the national guard once a tree tried to swallow my son and my daughter talked to me from inside the TV!

The biggest shock was once the house was declared “clean,” the family did not immediately put 100 miles between them and that address.  Umm, the kids slept in the same room and the mom took a bath behind closed doors!!  The father went into the office to collect the last of his things all the while they were going through a slow moving process.  I would have grabbed a few things and again headed to the national guard’s headquarters.

So too often I found myself yelling at the screen because of FOOL actions by the parents.  I just cannot believe any people would act like that.  At least once the house is “clean” get the heck out then.  SO to me that was a bit of a mistake in the story, it just made no sense.

Still, POLTERGEIST remains an 80s classic and deserving of its iconic status.

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