A Horror Movie - Spielberg Style!
Mark J. Fowler | Okinawa, Japan | 11/02/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Every since "Poltergeist" was released there has been debate about who influenced the final result more, Director Tobe Hooper or Producer Steven Spielberg. I personally think the answer can be discovered by comparing Poltergeist to their previous works: I ask you, is it closer in style to "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" or "Raiders of the Lost Ark"?
All that aside, "Poltergeist" is a rippin' good ghost story. Craig T. Nelson and Jobeth Williams play the parents of a family that unfortunately lives in one wicked suburbia haunted house. The movie develops slowly, giving us time to care about this family. Mr. Nelson and Ms. Williams are dream parents - cool, funny, smart and devoted to the family and each other.
The kids are pretty typical movie kids and their performances don't detract.
Initially, there are just a few unusual and creepy goings-on. Chairs move by themselves. The youngest daughter, played by young Heather O'Rourke, makes out voices that come through the television late at night after everyone else has gone to sleep.
At about the midway point of the film the owners of the "voices" start some serious shenanigans in the house and in the confusion, take little Carol Anne hostage. You're on the edge of your seat the rest of the movie.
Some academic ghost-buster types move in and set up cameras and recorders. Next thing you know, weird things are happening to them as well.
Made before the CGI age, "Poltergeist" nonetheless has some impressive special effects. The story tries to get under your skin. It doesn't just pick one thing to be scared of. There is no 25 foot shark or machete-wielding madman. Instead it succeeds over and over again at creeping you out at everyday objects. The old oak tree in the back yard becomes a menace. Toys in the kid's room turn sinister. The kitchen becomes a fright-hall.
When everyday objects are suddenly turning against you, what can you do? These are the things the family and the ghostbusters have to deal with while they try to figure out if they can get Carol Anne back.
My first experience with "Poltergeist" wasn't watching the movie. I was in a multiplex, next door watching something else, but through the walls WE were listening to the audience watching "Poltergeist" next door shrieking and screaming. I know I wasn't the only person thinking "What in the WORLD are they WATCHING next door?" We stepped out of our movie at the end to see the overhead sign. We knew this was something we HAD to go see.
We weren't disappointed."
Time To Scare Up A Deluxe Special Edition DVD!
K. Harris | Las Vegas, NV | 09/25/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Now that DVDs are way down in price, I've ended up with literally thousands--I think. I have a tendency to resist the earlier releases, the ones that are obviously "cheapies" with no special features--I know that better editions are just around the bend for most films! But I recently had to make an exception for "Poltergeist". Now I had originally seen this film in a theater on its release. I have always considered it one of the best in its genre. I've seen it a couple of times since, but probably not at all in the last ten years (and for the record--all the sequels were terrible).
What amazed me was that I still thought it was a terrific movie! Now, some people will think a couple of the effects are cheesy--and for today's standards, maybe they are. But they are so well integrated into the film that I don't think the modern viewer will mind. And I believe films are historical documents--I hate that George Lucas, for example, has corrupted his films with constant CGI updates. It's as sacrilegious as colorization was!
"Poltergeist" succeeds as a great film due, in large part, to it's unrelenting suspense--but, in equal measure, it relies on us to care about the family involved. I think the movie endures because it has heart and characters to actually root for. Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams are great (and believable) as the parents affected. Their love for each other and their family, and their willingness to sacrifice anything for the safety of their kids is well presented and acted. Williams, in particular, has never been better. At first, she is your typical suburban Mom--but as strange things start happening, you see her confusion, her delight, her fear, her horror, her desperation and her heroic side. It's a very nice underrated performance. And Beatrice Strait and Zelda Rubenstein both give richer, more fully realized performances than I remembered.
Who'd have thought--all these years later--that it's the characters of "Poltergeist" that have distinguished it in my mind?
It's time now! We need a Deluxe Version DVD. It's hard to believe 2007 will mark 25 years--that seems a fitting opportunity to honor a film that has stood the test of time. I'll be first in line to upgrade. KGHarris, 9/06."
Poltergeist on blu-ray
E. OMalley | Las Vegas, NV USA | 11/24/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Poltergeist" is one of my favorite horror pictures and I just introduced my 18-yr-old niece to the film with this blu-ray edition. She found it very scary and was stunned it was only rated PG (considering the year it was released). The picture and audio quality of this edition are both wonderful but, as noted by other reviewers, there are no real extras. Because of all the behind-the-scenes drama I have a feeling it will be a very long time before we see an edition which includes some really meaty extras. The book was nice, and had a few facts I wasn't aware of (the change from an "R" rating and the use of real skeletons on set...eww!)
Be aware, however, that like all previous versions the really severe edit between the family kitchen and the neighbor's house is still there - I don't think there can be a clean copy anywhere in Hollywood if this is still going on. I know it supposedly has something to do with Pizza Hut being dissed in the scene, but since it was one line I really think they could've muffled it and kept the complete scene instead of cutting a big chunk.
This is a classic, highly entertaining horror movie and well worth watching again. If you have an older version of the dvd (or even the vhs tape), now is a good time to upgrade it to blu-ray."