Poltergeist (1982)★★★★★


This is one of the first horror movies I ever saw (on purpose, anyway) and boy, did it stick with me. I remember when I was younger I used to wake up in a cold sweat after nightmares about this movie. Luckily, I haven’t had one of those in years…but then again I also hadn’t watched this movie in years.

One thing that definitely went over my head when I was younger is the sense of humor this movie has. From the parents getting stoned in their bedroom to the teenage daughter letting it slip that she “remembers” the Holiday Inn down the street, there are several jokes in this that land much better now that I understand them. This movie hasn’t just held up over time, it’s actually gotten better – or I’ve gotten smarter or more experienced or something. Either way, I like this movie even more now than I did when I was a kid.

This film is an interesting mix of Steven Spielberg and Tobe Hooper set to the music of Jerry Goldsmith, and it’s brilliant. If the crew isn’t talented enough for you, the cast is also spectacular. While Heather O’Rourke as Carol Anne and JoBeth Williams as her mother Diane are fantastic and Zelda Rubinstein’s Tangina Barrons is my favorite character (because she’s the best character), I have to give most of the credit to Craig T. Nelson as the father, Steven. From his worn-down appearance to the tears in his eyes, he sold the troubled father character completely. Which makes the whole family just so damn relatable and endearing that it’s hard not to get invested in the story.

The special effects aren’t entirely believable but they aren’t overused so it doesn’t detract or distract from the movie. It’s well paced, with the reveals all well timed and spaced out. It’s almost a perfect horror movie. Okay, maybe except for the canary dying at the very beginning. On the nose much? There are a couple of sequels to this that aren’t really worth watching, but this one is worth your time if you like scary movies. Don’t be fooled by the PG rating, though – this movie was released before the PG-13 rated was introduced.