Since we’re celebrating the 35th Anniversary of the release of the original Poltergeist (the actual day/date was just over a month ago on June 4th), I thought I’d take another look at and share with all of you fine people – an article I wrote for Horror Freak News’ precursor site, Best Horror Movies. It was penned a few months prior to the release of the Poltergeist remake in 2015, and was all about life lessons taken away from this classic film.
Here’s the full article:
“With a July release of the Poltergeist remake now looming on the horizon, and the trailer and stills blazing their way across the inter-webs, I thought I’d take a few moments to remember some of the valuable life lessons I’ve learned (and now you can too!) from the hundreds of viewings of the original Spielberg/Hooper classic in the 30+ years since its release.
A bit of background: Last year, I took a long and hard look at my all time favorite films – with the task in mind to rank these dozens and dozens of movies into an ultimate top 40 list. It quickly became apparent as I hemmed and hawed over this onslaught of titles that Poltergeist would end up taking a coveted top spot. Indeed, it ended up placing #3 of ALL TIME on the list and incidentally, the film’s dialogue also made its way into my wedding vows (a story for another time).
In case you’re wondering, my #1 film of all time is Romero’s original Day of the Dead (1985) and my #2 is a non-horror picture – also 1985 – the Sally Field and James Garner small town love story – Murphy’s Romance. Despite my obvious affinity for horror films, I also have a soft spot for romantic comedies. Don’t judge. In fact, other than the horror films which take a large chunk of the available spaces in the top 40, you’ll also find a generous sprinkling of work from the late, great John Hughes. I’m an equal opportunity film lover.
This article is meant to highlight several witty observations about the original beloved Poltergeist. If you’re a die hard, perhaps you’ll get all of the references – some of them certainly more out there than others. Enjoy and good luck!
To start things off, a few general tidbits of gained knowledge, before we move into the film’s actual lessons.
- There is no better decade for horror than the 1980s. Go ahead and make your case to the contrary if you must.
- As a film audience: If a “happy ending” doesn’t actually “end” the film, prepare yourself for the worst.
- Product placement in a film is key. Practically every television set owned by the Freeling family was a Sony.
And now the many lessons learned from the film’s story, script and characters:
- Watching Mr. Rogers will result in bad neighbor relations.
- Experiencing paranormal activity apparently will make you appetizing to mosquitoes.
- If you’ve got class in 20 minutes – spilt milk is totally something to cry over.
- Riding a bicycle with a case of beer on your lap is never a good idea.
- If you’re older than 30 with three kids – no amount of hair color change is going to make you “punk”. Just ask your teenaged daughter.
- Pay attention to the damn dog.
- Smoking weed and reading a book on Ronald Reagan will undoubtedly result in your child’s abduction by malevolent spirits.
- Hotel rooms at your local Holiday Inn are cost-effective and perfect when your family’s in a pinch.
- Don’t gloat until you know all of the facts. Whether it’s determining the ultimate cleanliness of a house (cleaning a house it tough! By the time you finish up you may as well start all over again!) or if you believe you can one up someone with your version of the “7 foot Matchbox car” paranormal story. Gloating only makes you look stupid.
- Remote controlled cars are not toys. Oh wait…
- Much like the old saying your mother used to spout, “Wear clean underwear – you could be in a car accident”… keep the area under your bed clean, you never know when all of the furniture (including all of the unpleasant dust bunnies – for shame) may be sucked into another dimension through your closet. Honestly, what would the spirits think of your less-than-superior cleaning skills?
- Leaving your television set on as you sleep not only messes with your sleeping habits, but it wastes electricity, teaches bad habits to your children and invites demonic ghosts into your house.
- Dead birds get hungry, sleepy and lonely.
- The longer the stretch of time between a flash of lightning and the ensuing boom of thunder – the further away the storm is. Parenting at it’s finest!
- Protractors can be extremely dangerous and musical!
- Despite evidence to the contrary, Satan and young children can be playmates!
- Pizza Hut is a great alternative for cooking dinner if you’ve had a particularly busy and unusual day.
- A television repair company in a neighborhood such as Cuesta Verde may want to avoid the company name, “The TV People”. It could be too soon.
- The powers-that-be of Town & Country magazine are always on the lookout for tacky Jacuzzi and pool fixtures in some non-descript suburban neighborhood.
- If you don’t know the history of your property, just flush the dead bird if you can. You just never know if the burial of a cherished childhood pet, may end up being the straw that broke the camel’s back!
- The Incredible Hulk is known to ride a horse.
- When pulling an all-nighter in your quest for confirmation of “the other side”, your appetite will be voracious! And Cheetos are always the first snack to go. So stock up, ghost hunters!
- Make sure that your butcher is trust-worthy and on top of freshness! Beef and poultry products must always meet the highest of standards!
- Developers don’t generally advertise their immoral schemes on billboards or the sides of buses. Whose bright idea was that?
- Nothing irritates a truly gifted medium more than trick answers. They totally hate them!
- Apparently “the other side” is well stocked with delicious jellies and jams!
- When you’ve just experienced a life-changing supernatural event, it’s best to just move on. And when making that move, Atlas Van Lines is a premium choice.
- Clowns just all around suck. Seriously – eff clowns.
- You’ve just achieved a perfect clean during bath-time – even getting the fuzzies between your toes – and then BOOM! – just like that, you’re dirty again. Typical!
- Coming home to rumbling thunder and seizure-inducing lightning inside your home is never a good thing.
- You can never find your keys when you most need them. Isn’t it the truth?
- Clothes aren’t feeling April fresh and wouldn’t you know it – you’re out of dryer sheets? Just let your disembodied child pass through your body and soul, and you’ll smell clothes-line clean!
And as we prepare ourselves for the worst and hope for the best come July, these final two thoughts wrap up this nostalgic trip down the memory lanes of Cuesta Verde.
- Never mess with perfection. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.
- However – as Diane (JoBeth Williams) says to Steven (Craig T. Nelson) when things in the Freeling household start to get a little wonky, “Now just be calm. Reach back into our past, when you used to have an open mind. Remember that? Just try to use that.” Lesson learned here – when facing a possible dud remake of a cherished horror film love?
Try to keep an open mind.
I’ll see you all in July. Fingers crossed.”
And as we all know, the remake didn’t live up to expectations. Here’s a link to my review of that less-than film.
What other life lessons can be gleaned from this Hooper/Spielberg horror? Sound off in the comments below!