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  • Writer's pictureAllan Major

Poltergeist 1982 Reviewed

Updated: May 14


Featured Image For Poltergeist 1982 Reviewed. Poltergeist 1982 movie poster with a child in front of a static-filled TV.
They're watching from within 'Poltergeist' - where the static whispers your name.

Let’s get those old film reels rolling, because this trip down memory lane is about to get a whole lot darker. Remember the flickering TV set that stole your sleep – a portal whispering secrets from beyond the white noise? Yeah, we’re talking 'Poltergeist'. Not just another ghost story, folks. This one was carved out of a different kind of nightmare fuel.


Poltergeist 1982 Key Takeaways

  • The everyday is fragile: Suburban life, with its normalcy and routine, can be shattered in an instant when the supernatural intrudes. The film underscores the unsettling idea that horror can strike anywhere.

  • Family bonds are powerful: The Freelings' fierce love and determination to protect each other is the driving force of the film. It reminds us of the strength found in the face of overwhelming danger.

  • Question the unseen: 'Poltergeist' plays on our fears of the unknown. Entities exist beyond human comprehension, and they can intrude in unsettling ways.

  • Practical effects can still be chilling: Even with the advances in special effects, the practical effects of 'Poltergeist' contribute to its unsettling atmosphere. Sometimes what we can't quite see is the scariest.

  • Some things can never be unseen: Images like the contortionist clown and faces melting are disturbingly etched into pop culture. The film highlights that some horrors linger long after the credits roll.

  • There's a dark underbelly to suburbia: Beneath the shiny facade of the perfect American neighborhood lurks something sinister. The film questions the safety of conformity and material comforts.

  • Technology can be a conduit: Television sets become the focal point through which the supernatural intrudes, serving as a chilling reminder of technology's potential to connect with otherworldly forces.

  • Never underestimate a mother's love: Diane Freeling's determination to save her daughter is the heart of the film, a testament to a mother's primal protective instincts.


Young girl watches Poltergeist on an old TV, static flickering on the screen.
"They're heeeere." Shadows dance across the walls as a small hand reaches for the remote, eyes locked on the haunting TV glow.

1982, a simpler time. Shoulder pads, big hair, and an appetite for thrills that weren't all CGI and jump-scares. The Freelings were the picture of the perfect American family, living out their suburban dream in California. Think white picket fences and manicured lawns. But under that sunny façade? Cracks were starting to show, slithering shadows slithering in the corners. And they weren’t alone.


First, it’s just whispers. A flicker on the TV screen, static humming through the house. The kind of thing you laugh off, a glitch in the system. Then the chairs start moving, stacking themselves like some ghostly architect had taken over. The clown doll under the bed? Yeah, that thing’s got the eyes of a demon and a grin just as wicked. Welcome to the Freeling’s new reality show – a haunted house special where the spirits ain’t too friendly.


Okay, confession time: the special effects might look a little cheesy today. But back in ‘82? That was mind-blowing. Steven Spielberg, the maestro of suburban magic, produced the heck outta this movie. When that tree, ancient and gnarled, bursts through the kids’ bedroom window, you feel those roots yanking you under too. There's a raw, practical magic to it, less polished than today's effects, but with a visceral bite that lingers.


But this ain’t just a special effects extravaganza. Those flickering specters are messing with forces way beyond our understanding. And when little Carol Anne, with her saucer-like eyes and voice like an angel’s whisper, announces “They’re here” – well, let’s just say your seat cushion becomes a security blanket. The fear in 'Poltergeist' is insidious, creeping up with the normality of it all. Not blood-splattered walls and demonic masks, but the uncanny in the everyday. That’s the stuff that haunts.


It takes a special kind of talent to balance heartwarming Spielbergian family drama with bone-chilling supernatural scares. Tobe Hooper, fresh off the gritty success of 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' did just that, weaving a tapestry of terror that somehow never loses its humanity. Jobeth Williams anchors the chaos as Diane Freeling, a mother clawing through the spectral storm to protect her babies. You believe her desperation, the desperation of a mama bear whose cubs are cornered.


Elderly man sits alone in a dimly lit room, watching Poltergeist on a vintage television.
He wasn't the only one drawn to the TV tonight...

A Horror Movie Both The Critic Reviews and User Reviews Loved

As the Freelings unravel, pulled into a spectral vortex of swirling lights and roaring winds, the question becomes: how far will they go to save their home, their sanity…their little girl? Tangina Barrons, the pint-sized psychic brought in to cleanse the house, brings a whole ‘nother level of eeriness. With her otherworldly voice and that iconic line, “This house…is clean”, the paranormal becomes stark reality.


You watch the Freelings fight impossible odds, teetering on the edge of madness. The tension ratchets up until that bone-chilling moment when Diane leaps through the swirling portal, into the gaping maw of the unknown, to retrieve her daughter. It’s pure Spielbergian catharsis – love conquering fear in the face of the unfathomable.


And then…they walk away. Shell-shocked, forever changed. They leave their house, their perfect suburban life, behind. As they head into the uncertain sunrise, you get the sense that the haunting isn’t over. Not really. Some nightmares, they leave claw marks no amount of sunshine can fully erase. That’s the lingering power of 'Poltergeist'. It’s not so much the face-melting skeletons or the creepy clowns (although, those do stick with you). It's the unsettling truth that the greatest horrors, the ones that burrow deep into your soul, might just be lurking in the spaces you thought safest. Under the bed, on the TV screen, behind the walls of your own ordinary life.


So, the verdict? 'Poltergeist' holds up, even four decades later. Sure, the technology might seem quaint, but that heart-stopping fear factor, the Spielbergian touch? That’s timeless. If you’re in the mood for a horror flick that will leave you both thrilled and existentially disturbed, this one’s still a classic. Just remember, next time the TV goes all staticky…maybe, just maybe, it ain’t a technical glitch.


And that is Poltergeist 1982 Reviewed. Another great classic horror movie


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If You Liked Poltergeist 1982 You Might Also Like These Films

  • The Amityville Horror (1979): Based on allegedly true events, this classic haunted house film follows the Lutz family as they move into a home with a dark history. Sinister forces plague them, driving them to the edge of sanity. Expect psychological terror and creepy imagery.

  • The Exorcist (1973): A true cornerstone of horror, this film deals with the demonic possession of a young girl and the priests who attempt to perform an exorcism. While heavier on the religious and psychological horror than 'Poltergeist', its intensity and disturbing imagery will linger with you.

  • The Changeling (1980): A composer, grieving the loss of his family, moves into a secluded mansion, only to discover he's not alone. This film offers a chilling ghost story with a captivating mystery at its core. Expect a slower burn and a focus on atmosphere rather than jump scares.

  • Insidious (2010): This modern film revitalized the haunted house formula. A family whose son falls into a mysterious coma becomes the target of malevolent entities who want to cross over from the astral plane. Think creepy atmosphere, startling jump scares, and a twisty narrative.

  • The Conjuring (2013): Inspired by the work of real-life paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren, this film follows a family terrorized by a dark presence in their farmhouse. Expect a well-crafted horror experience with an emphasis on building tension and dread, similar to the feel of 'Poltergeist'.


Poltergeist 1982 Reviewed FAQs


Q: What is Poltergeist? 

A: Poltergeist is a classic 1982 American supernatural horror film directed by Tobe Hooper and produced and co-written by Steven Spielberg. It's known for its memorable special effects, chilling atmosphere, and the iconic line, "They're here!"


Q: Who are some of the main characters in Poltergeist? 

A: Some of the main characters in Poltergeist include:

  • Steve Freeling (Craig T. Nelson): The father of the family and a successful real estate developer.

  • Diane Freeling (JoBeth Williams): Steve's wife and a devoted mother.

  • Robbie Freeling (Oliver Robins): The Freelings' middle child, a young boy fascinated and somewhat terrified by the strange occurrences.

  • Dana Freeling (Dominique Dunne): The Freelings' teenage daughter.

  • Carol Anne Freeling (Heather O'Rourke): The Freelings' youngest daughter, a sweet and innocent girl who becomes the focal point of the supernatural activity.


Q: Who plays the role of Tangina Barrons in Poltergeist? 

A: The role of Tangina Barrons in Poltergeist is played by the iconic actress Zelda Rubinstein. Tangina is a diminutive but powerful psychic called in to help the Freelings understand and combat the supernatural forces in their home.


Q: Who directed the film Poltergeist? 

A: Poltergeist was directed by Tobe Hooper, a master of horror known for his groundbreaking work on 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' (1974). There's been some controversy over the years regarding how much creative control Hooper had on the film, with some believing Spielberg had a more significant hand in its execution.


Q: What is the plot of Poltergeist? 

A: Poltergeist follows the story of the Freeling family who begin experiencing bizarre and increasingly terrifying supernatural events in their idyllic suburban California home. At first, these events seem playful, but they quickly turn malevolent. The family discovers that their house was built on a former burial ground, and the spirits of the dead are restless. The spirits become focused on their youngest daughter, Carol Anne, and eventually abduct her into another dimension. The family must then fight to bring her back.


Q: How was the special effects work in Poltergeist? 

A: Poltergeist is renowned for its groundbreaking special effects, which were considered highly advanced for 1982. Created by Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), the effects team used a combination of practical techniques and early forms of computer-generated effects to bring the supernatural world to life in visually stunning ways. Some notable examples include the imploding living room, the menacing clown doll, and the spectral vortex.


Q: Is Poltergeist considered a horror classic? 

A: Absolutely! Poltergeist is widely regarded as a horror classic and one of the most influential horror films of all time. It's praised for its suspenseful storytelling, effective blend of scares and Spielbergian family drama, and memorable performances. Plus, it spawned a franchise that, while less successful critically, shows the cultural impact of the original.

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