Poltergeist may not be the most terrifying horror film that you’ll ever see.
But its amazing story telling, wealth of excitement and iconic ingredients make it essential viewing, particularly at Halloween – which is why it’s right up there in our list of top 10 Halloween films.
To a person who hasn’t yet seen this movie, the characters and events in the film may seem very familiar. The ancient Indian burial ground, the creepy kid that is in contact with the dead, the freaky supernatural spectacles.
But the reason that these elements all seem so familiar is because Poltergeist firmly established them. And Poltergeist turned out to be so successful and amazing that many other filmmakers were inspired by it and even plagiarised it afterwards. Insidious is one of the more popular and obvious examples of this.
When a family move to a new build home everything is looking rosy. The man of the house, Steve is an up and comer in the housing development world, his company being responsible for the estate on which they live.
But soon after moving in strange things happen in the house.
As the name suggests, it starts off with the odd bit of poltergeist activity – things moving about and stuff. But after a few terrifying experiences, it appears that the house is seriously haunted.
When Carol Anne, the youngest child disappears, the stark truth is revealed – their home is a portal to another dimension and the little girl is the prize in a battle between the family and the evil unseen forces that also inhabit the property.
Every element of Poltergeist is finely polished and works in harmony with the other parts. From the cast, to the special effects to the music, everything sits together like an orchestra, playing the most beautifully haunting symphony.
From the horror perspective, the fear appears in many forms from the neck creeping chills to the the jumpy surprise moments and even the odd bit of gore, particularly in the bathroom mirror scene.
The superior quality of the film shouldn’t be surprising given that it was a joint effort between Steven Spielberg and Tobe Hooper. And if the names weren’t big enough there was plenty of sensational press around it. Many believed that the film was cursed after a number of the cast members died within a short time of the film being made – this was blamed on the fact that real human skeletons were used in some of the scene.
So the making of the film is a ghost story in itself.
Much like some of the other more prominent ghost films of the period (The Entity and the Amityville Horror) this period was a magical one for this kind of film. The Exorcist brought forth a level of realistic supernatural horror ‘based on real events’ that shocked and captured the minds of the public. And the idea of such things were as fantastic and fascinating for the cast and producers as it was for the audience.
Poltergeist is an adventure into the unknown. And even now, after the hundreds of imitators and re inventors have diluted much of the magic, this film still allows you to see early paranormal horror with the same feeling of awe and excitement.
It’s one film that I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of watching.