Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Poltergeist (1982)

Tobe Hooper, of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) fame, directed Poltergeist, although Hooper's pitiless, blood-and-guts sensibility hardly seemed to be a good fit for Steven Spielberg who wrote the screenplay and produced the 1982 hit film Poltergeist The movie works well.

The plot shows a suburban southern California family of five and their dog being haunted by entities that take over their home. Ironically, the family’s neighborhood bears a striking resemblance to E.T.’s neighborhood which is directed by Steven Spielberg in the same year

The movie kicks off with the ordinary end of late night TV programming. The Star Spangled Banner is playing over a video displaying American patriotism, then abruptly ends with dead air or TV static. Carol Anne the family’s youngest child, wakes up, walks to the TV and begins a conversation. This scene repeats a second time and you can see a ghostly image emerge from the TV and fly out of the TV over Carol Anne’s head and disappear into the bedroom wall behind her. Carol Anne playfully says, "They're Here!" From this point forward the family’s home is haunted by a Poltergeist because their home was built on top of a cemetery, in which only the headstones had been moved. A poltergeist as a ghost that manifests itself by noises, rappings, and the creation of disorder

The movie has been linked to a Poltergeist curse because “six of the stars from these movies died deaths that are characterized as mysterious or tragic, and four of these six did not live a normal lifespan.” Specifically Heather O'Rourke and Dominique Dunne (the daughter of Dominick Dunne

Poltergeist was nominated for four Oscars and won for “Best Visual Effects”, “Best Horror Film”, and “Best Make-Up” in addition to Zelda Rubinstein who plays the clairvoyant wins “Best Supporting Actress”. If you’re a fan of “movie mistakes” you can locate them here

I enjoyed the movie though only some of its special effects hold up today. The movie is distinctly 80's because it highlights the picture perfect upper-middle class suburban family. Therefore, it is enjoyable to see their world turn upside down.

1 comment:

Vladigogo said...

Clearly you hit the nail on the head. This is another Spielberg film that pummels the sense of a perfect American suburb as we come to learn that the community is built on an Indian ground. He does the same thing in E.T. and of course we also see what goes on underneath the facade of suburbia in Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands--and in some sense you might say that if Steven Spielberg had a dark twin it would be Tim Burton.