Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Movie Name: Poltergeist
Year of Release: 1982
Director: Tobe Hooper
Stars: Jobeth Williams, Craig T. Nelson, Beatrice Straight, Dominique Dunne, Oliver Robbins, Heather O'Rourke, Michael McManus, Richard Lawson, Zelda Rubinstein, James Karen
Genre: Horror
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 8

"Poltergeist" premiered on June of 1982, showcasing a different side to writer/producer Steven Spielberg's universe, one populated with some dark entities. The film followed the story of the Freeling family, who suddenly starts experiencing strange and unexplainable events in their house. Things escalate further, until these entities attack their household, and one of the family members goes missing. The family resorts to professional researchers to help in understanding the occurrences and hopefully bring some peace to their lives.
By the time "Poltergeist" premiered on the screens, writer/producer Steven Spielberg was already widely known as one of the most talented film makers in Hollywood. He was coming of a string of hits that included "Jaws", "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark". 1982 of course would see the release of the indelible "ET", but also the darker "Poltergeist", which would mark one of the first in a series of increasing prolific producing projects that would keep Spielberg occupied during the 80s (which included for instance, Joe Dante's "Gremlins", Matthew Robbins' "Batteries not Included" and Robert Zemeckis' "Back to the Future"). The film retains all of Spielberg's traditional focus: the family unit in a dire situation, with love and unity overcoming the hurdles and obstacles. However "Poltergeist" made these obstacles colossal, since they were supernatural and evil. These entities menacing the family, were also attacking innocence itself, personified in the film by the young Carol Anne (something that William Friedkin had already explored with his take on William Peter Blatty's "Exorcist"). The film ended up being more of a vision of it's writer and producer, than of the director, cult celebrated director Tobe Hooper, who at the time was still widely known for his low budget "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (whose career sadly never attained the promise it's debut showcased). The film successfully builds a sense of domesticity and peaceful existence, which is totally put into disarray with the strange events. The special effects though a bit dated by today's standards, still help create the tone of menace and wonder that dominates the film, as does the wonderful score from Jerry Goldsmith. A film always worth watching and coming back to.