Director: Tobe Hooper
Writer: Steven Spielberg, Michael Grais, Mark Victor
Cast: Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams, Dominique Dunne, Oliver Robins, Heather O’Rourke, Beatrice Straight, Zelda Rubinstein
Seen on: 1.6.2015
The Freelings move into a new home, in the estate father Steve (Craig T. Nelson) is helping to sell the houses in. Mother Diane (JoBeth Williams) takes care of their three children, Dana (Dominique Dunn), Robbie (Oliver Robins) and Carol Anne (Heather O’Rourke). Diane soon realizes that there are strange occurrences in their house. Her initial excitement and scientific curiosity give way to terror though, when Carol Anne goes missing inside their house – and can still be heard on the TV, talking to them. Since their circumstances are extraordinary, they start to seek extraordinary help as well.
I remember I caught Poltergeist on TV a few years ago, in the German dubbed version which I usually abhor. But I was so caught up in the film, that I barely realized it was dubbed. And on second watching (in English this time) I can honestly say: the film is still fantastic.
There are two things that completely stand out to me about Poltergeist: one is the Freelings. Rarely has there been a more likeable and wonderfully normal family in any film that comes so beautifully together. All of their relationships are completely believable and since you like them so much, it is easy to root for them in every second of the film.
The other outstanding thing is the movie’s treatment of supernatural stuff and science. Diane’s first reaction to the moving chairs in her kitchen is to start experimenting with them, to figure out what exactly happens and how. And all of that with such excitement – and let’s be honest, it would be pretty exciting if you could repeatedly see the same obviously supernatural and seemingly benevolent effect. Of course you’d try some stuff. And then there first cry for help is to the University, the parapsychology department who then call the medium when they realize that science isn’t quite far enough for that kind of phenomenon. First you need a pragmatic solution, then you can continue to study and maybe refine the pragmatism that comes from experience. It’s a beautiful blend of science and the supernatural – one that honors both approaches, which is rare indeed.
But apart from these two personal favorites, Poltergeist offers a creepy atmosphere and nevertheless manages to be funny. The cast is great – the entire family and of course, Zelda Rubinstein. It’s only the special effects that haven’t quite aged that well and do feel a little ridiculous at some points (especially the CGI effects).
But they were never so ridiculous that you couldn’t enjoy the film anymore – and enjoy it I did. And I was creeped out by it. And laughed about it. And just generally loved it.