October Horror Movie Recommendation: Poltergeist
Every day for the month of October, Coming Soon is making a new horror movie recommendation for those eager to find a new frightening flick for Halloween. From the creepy goodness of a classy ghost story to a blood-spattered gorefest and everything in between, we’ll have something for every taste of horror. And today’s pick is…
What’s Poltergeist about: The Freelings, a typical American family, live a quiet, normal life in suburban America watching football, feuding with neighbors, smoking pot, and stocking up on Star Wars merchandise. When supernatural occurrences suddenly interrupt their domestic lifestyle and suck Carol Anne into another dimension, the Freelings enlist the aid of a group of parapsychologists led by one Tangina Barrons (Zelda Rubinstein), who rightly deduce the presence of a pretty pesky (and angry) poltergeist led by an evil spirit known simply as The Beast. The Freelings ban together to challenge the dark entity and bring Carol Anne back to the light. Directed by Tobe Hooper. Spielberg also wrote the film with Michael Grais and Mark Victor.
Why Poltergeist rules: Forget the pointless sequels, forget that awful remake, and forget all the copycats, Poltergeist is a classic. While other copycat films vary in success, Poltergeist succeeds because the filmmakers are doing more than producing cheap jump scares. Spielberg and Hooper go a long way in crafting a believable suburban family — flaws and all — that genuinely care for one another; and in so doing present a striking commentary on middle-class America. Is it any wonder that the ghosts seem to originate from inside a television, to the tune of the Star-Spangled Banner no less? Or that the supernatural occurrences always seem to feature everyday household items like dishes, furniture, and toys? The Freelings are tormented by the very materials they work so hard to collect right down to the swimming pool full of dead bodies. That unique level of depth is what allows Poltergeist to rise above the silly, one dimensional rip offs that eschew good characters, storytelling and heart in favor of cheesy gotcha moments.
How scary is Poltergeist: Quite, but in the same manner as Spielberg’s other productions — think Jurassic Park or Jaws rather than, say, The Exorcist or The Omen. Obviously, Poltergeist’s subject matter is much darker than dinosaurs or man-eating sharks — there’s a scene where a man rips his face off — but this is the type of horror designed to entertain the masses; a rollicking haunted house extravaganza that doesn’t shy away from its disturbing subject matter, but doesn’t linger too much on it either.
Be on the lookout for: Real skeletons. In one particularly creepy sequence. Williams falls into a swimming pool filled with real skeletons. Not props. Real. Dead. Corpses. Let that one sink in.
CS October Horror Movie Recommendations:
October 1 – Session 9
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