Craig T. Nelson as Steve Freeling
JoBeth Williams as Diane Freeling
Oliver Robins a Robbie Freeling
Heather O'Rourke as Carol Ann Freeling
Zelda Rubenstein as Tangina
Contributor Dr. Chills
One thing that I’ve really enjoyed since discovering Best-Horror-Movies.com is the opportunity to review horror movies. Somehow, it has spurred in me fervor to watch all of my old horror favorites again, for the first time. It’s been fun comparing my impressions now with the impression I had when I first viewed them, which is some cases was over 25 years ago. Steven Spielberg’s Poltergeist, is one such example. I’m pleased to say that I enjoyed this film just as much, if not more, than the first time I saw it.
Of course, it was great to have the vantage point of history. How could I have known back in 1982 that the Freelings (Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams) were ushering into the world and unleashing upon humanity a myriad of horrors? Not only ghosts, ghouls, demons and poltergeists, but perhaps worst – Subdivisions! Oh the horror! Perhaps the spirits of the dead would not have haunted the Freeling family if something more worthy had been built on their graves, say a roller rink or maybe a miniature golf course. Well one thing was for sure; Middle America was in for a shock.
Poltergeist opens up with patriotic music playing on an old television signaling the end of the TV program, the end of the day and the beginning of static. Who can forget the static and that famous scene with Carol Anne (Heather O’Rourke) holding the TV screen and looking in?
Back in 1982 after I first saw this film, I was so scared of static that whenever I would find some on the television while turning the channels (with my hand by the way and not a remote) I would rush past it for fear somehow letting in something unholy from the “Other Side”. Occasionally I would get brave and actually linger with the static, just to see what might happen – but never for too long. Do they even have static anymore since the advent of 24 hour TV? Well, I guess in 2007 the ghosts will have to find some other way in, maybe through a slow analog dial up connection or something. So, back to the static. The static is a portal through which the Poltergeists enter the Freeling’s home. Their lives would be never the same again.
Yes it was cool for a while, in a trippy sort of way, when things in the house started moving on their own. It was cool for Carol Anne because she was kid, but really cool for her mom (JoBeth Williams) because she was a pothead (a tidbit I didn’t catch on to in 1982 – must have thought they were cigarettes). I imagine the whole thing was very groovy for a time, but matters did get worse when the house became saturated with the spirits of the dead and playtime was over.
Young Robbie Freeling (Oliver Robbins) had a feeling there was something just a little too creepy about that old tree. I thought it was creepy too, but who would have thought it would try to eat him? Jeez. That’s when the closet started sucking things and people inside of it. See you on the other side Carol Anne.
It turns out Poltergeists (German for “noisy ghosts”) usually obsess on a single human entity and Carol Anne was their choice. Something about her spirit drew them to her, or should we say – drew her to them through the closet. And the movie should have really been called “Poltergeists” with a big S on the end because that house had tons of spirits.
It turns out the dad (Craig T. Nelson) worked for a bonehead company with a bonehead boss that built a subdivision on an old graveyard. They moved the headstones, but not the bodies of the dead. Now that’s smart. So the dead were a little pissed off because they couldn’t finish making their transition to the other side because their resting place was disturbed. I would have been pissed too. Apparently, the spirits needed Carol Anne to help them get to the other side.
This is a film full of intrigue, ghost hunters and the fabulous house exorciser, Tangina (Zelda Rubenstein). The thing that made the film so cool is that we can all relate a little bit to being afraid of life-sized stuffed clowns, old spooky trees and the unknown lurking under beds and in closets. Many of us have said to ourselves “why the heck is the dog barking at the wall, what the heck is the cat staring at, and I could have sworn that pen was on the table, not hovering in mid air the last time I saw it.”
We’ve all had our own experiences with an unseen being, and be they mild or dramatic we know them to be real. Steven Spielberg did a great job of capturing these real life oddities and magnifying them to horror movie status – classic status at that. I tried Poltergeist again, for the first time, and it did not disappoint.