THE UNITED STATES OF GEEKDOM
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Poltergeist

I sat down to watch Poltergeist for the first time and knew for a first time viewer this movie was either going to be great or be beyond horrible. My generation has been spoiled by CGI and movie effects that are improving by leaps and bounds every year.

This movie is Iconic among the horror genre and I can see why. Half way through I can already see the blueprints laid out for more than half of the horror films that would follow. Any film that involves ghosts, hauntings or the paranormal has borrowed from this film. Whether they knowingly did so or not.

As the movie begins we waste no time in introducing ourselves to the strangeness that will permeate this film. Carol Anne, the youngest daughter of the Freeling family, is seen talking to the TV and then shouting at it saying she can’t hear them and to speak louder. On the Screen all you see is a snow/static covered screen.

Carol Anne’s obsession with the snow screen grows until one night, after the two youngest children have ended up in the master bedroom during a thunderstorm, we see lights come from the TV and the master bedroom shakes like an earthquake has hit. The Freeling’s, Diane and Steven, are awoken by the shaking but did not see the light.

The next morning is when the strange occurrences begin in earnest. First with chairs moving and then being stacked on the table, to Diane being able to map the movement of the chairs and other things in the kitchen, and then even so far as using their daughter to demonstrate to Steven the strange things happening by watching her being pulled across the floor.

That night the tree outside their house, in which young Robbie told his father earlier he was scared of, takes the boy by the branching acting like arms and tries to swallow the boy whole. It was during this event Carol Anne is swallowed by a bright light in her closet.

Now, as I mentioned earlier this movie has set the blueprints for films that followed. Up to this point in the film you can name off all sorts of films that were influenced. White Noise, Paranormal Activity, even parts of Ghostbusters.

Now, after Carol Anne disappears the Freeling family knows something beyond their understanding is going on and they seek the help of Paranormal Investigators. We are never given a name for this group as far as I can tell, but they are led by a Dr. Lesh, who says she is a regular psychologist whose hobby is Parapsychology.

This investigative team is left with no assumptions to where what the family claims is real or not. Immediately they are shown strange occurrences, the largest being the bedroom where Carol Anne disappeared where everything is floating and being tossed about.

Things progress into a more violent and physical manner and later we see lights that are supposed spirits emerge from the children’s bedroom.

Even one of the Investigative crew is assaulted and forced to hallucinate his face coming apart to reveal his skull. He leaves the next day and does not return.

It’s close to this point in the film that We find out that the company Steven works for relocated a cemetery where the house is located and plans to do it again for another development. Steven even says, “Isn’t that scaraligious?” “We’ve done it before in the valley.” That from his Boss, Mr. Teeg.

Dr. Lesh returns with a Clairvoyant who has cleaned many houses of spirits, she says. Steven tests her and it seems to be proven the diminutive woman can indeed do as she claims. She begins explaining to them about spirits and the like and she reveals that the power behind all of this is Satan himself.

She also then tells them of the plan to get their daughter back. The next few sequences are chaotic but the most important pieces are this: they test out the place where Carol Anne went in and find there is an outlet above the living room. They send Diane in to retrieve Carol Anne tied to a rope that extends beyond both ends of the “pocket” of spiritual energies. After Diane goes in Steven hears the clairvoyant speaking and feels his wife is in danger and tries to pull her back out, which only gets him to reel in a huge zombiefied skull that roars at him.

Moments later though Diane and Carol Anne emerge from the other side into the living room and are found to be safe. The Clairvoyant claims, “This house is clean!”

Soon we see the Freeling family packing up to get the hell out of dodge, and all seems well. Steven leaves to finish up quitting his job and the children and Diane are at home waiting for him to come back and then they will leave the place for good.

This is when Robbie is attacked by a stuffed clown he’s feared the entire movie and their closet door starts mutating into an oddly alive looking portal. Diane tries to get into them and is attacked by an unseen force that drags her up the walls and across the ceiling then drops her to the floor after being dragged down the opposite wall.

She escapes from its clutches only the end up thrown down the stairs and confronted by a skull like mutated monster that is almost beyond description. Meanwhile the portal is trying to suck in the children and Diane ends up outside and in the area where they were putting in the pool.

And here is where the inconic scene that everyone knows about. The corpses in the mud. Fun fact: Those were real corpses and were what started the rumored “poltergeist curse.”

Dinae is able to get free of the pool after the neighbor pulls her free, but her incoherent screaming makes them step away and she runs back into the house to save the children. As the portal tries to suck the children in she bursts into the room and after some tug of war pulls them free and runs to the front door where Steven, coming home, finds his house under spiritual attack once more. As he tries to enter and the family tries to leave, a coffin with a corpse shoves through the concrete in their way.

This is when Mr. Teeg runs form his own vehicle having been watching the house and Steven runs into him. “You son of a bitch, you moved the cemetery but lefts the bodies. You left the bodies didn’t you! You moved the headstones but left the bodies!” Aha, a light clicks on and we know why this is all happening now.

Steven gets his family clear and soon they make a mad dash away from their neighborhood. Mr. Teeg watches out front as the whole house is swallowed in a nexus of fury and light.

The family make sit safe to the Hotel, Steven lets them all in and shoves the TV set out into the rain away from them. Thus ends the movie.

It’s no wonder Steven Speilbergs Poltergeist is so iconic. It took just about every haunting legend, myth, and story and combined them masterfully into a chaotic and chilling ride that, for the 80’s, must have been scary as hell.

Another thing I loved was the Star Wars stuff you see on the boys walls and among his toys and bedsheets. This was the HEIGHT of Star Wars and its fandom.

Now, the 80’s and before movies didn’t rely on special effects as much. Star Wars was one of the few films that capitalized of that and was successful. The techniques we see in Poltergeist have been used a thousand times over and whether they originated with Poltergeist or not, this film was what made people realize the potential in normal movie making.

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and now wonder why the hell I never saw it before now. If you haven’t seen it, please do.

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