Welcome to the Witching Hour. This is the time when shadows gather to hide the monsters watching as you pass. The breeze carries whispers from souls long dead and humans must share the Earth with creatures from other realms. Join The Inner Circle every midnight in October as we bring you a list of thirty-one monstrous experiences that just might leave you wondering if you are truly alone in the dark.
Even those who are not normally fans of horror films have more than likely heard Poltergeist’s infamous tagline:
That line almost instantly became a part of American pop culture and has been parodied countless times. In fact, the original Poltergeist movie has consistently maintained popularity among horror fans and has remained the subject of discussion and debate to this day. Just to be clear, today we will be looking at the very first Poltergeist film and not the dreadful remake.
Spoiler alert: Oh yes, there will be spoilers.
The Feeling family is living the American dream (such as it was in the early 1980s). They own a nice house in a prestigious area, Steve’s career is on track and his family seems to be happy and healthy. It’s an idyllic existence beyond occasional problems picking up the football game and his children haphazardly leaving their toys in awkward places. Until one day when strange things begin happening.
At first the family is exposed to strange but amusing events. Cutlery is twisted into strange shapes. Furniture is stacked in bizarre ways by unseen hands. A family member is pulled across the floor. The youngest daughter, Carol Anne, begins having conversations on a television when it seemingly displays nothing but static. Things take a considerably darker turn on a stormy night when the family is literally attacked and Carol Anne has vanished. The adults frantically search for her until they slowly realize that the little girl is shouting at them through the very television she spoke to earlier.
You’d be forgiven if you wanted to leave the house forever after all of that but Steve and his wife, Joanne, refuse to leave until they get Carol Anne back. Enlisting the help of a paranormal research team and a psychic medium, the Freeling family must confront spirits from beyond to get their daughter back.
One of the most curious aspects of Poltergeist is the fact that while it is rated PG, some of the scenes can be quite intense. The movie is not as frightening as another horror film with a PG rating, Jaws, but some sequences such as a man tearing his own face off can raise some eyebrows. On the other hand, Poltergeist has a surprisingly light body count – there are no character deaths in the movie. It should be noted that the character of Carol Anne was originally intended to be killed early on and her spirit would haunt the house but that was obviously changed when lightening up the tone of the film. Poltergeist remains an oddity from an era before the PG-13 rating.
On that note, the final act of the film is amazing and the practical effects still hold up well almost thirty-five years later. If you think the skeletons in the movie look extremely realistic, that’s because they are. Apparently it would have been too expensive to produce replicas so the producers arranged for some actual human skeletons to used in a number of shots such as sharing a swim with actress JoBeth Williams. She must not have minded as JoBeth was apparently more concerned about all of the electrical equipment in such close proximity to a large pool of water. Steven Spielberg reportedly jumped into the pool with her and remarked that if the lights and other equipment were to fall into the water then they would both fry.
Poltergeist is not only a great movie to watch during Halloween but is also a candidate for a “must see” film. Be sure to check it out.