Thursday, June 30, 2011

Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments:#80-Poltergeist(1982)

By Eric Polk-
Let's face it. The 80s belonged to one Steven Spielberg. I challenge any Reapling who has not seen his output from that decade either as director, producer, or both. Which with this classic 1982 film, he was, despite it being credited to Tobe Hopper.

Steve and Diane Freeling live a quiet life in  Cuesta Verde, where Steven is a successful realtor and Diane who cares for their children Dana, Robbie, and Carol Anne. Carol Anne awakens one night and begins conversing with the family's tv, which has started transmitting static.  The following night, a violent earthquake strikes the house, to which Carol Anne announces "They're here."

Bizarre events begin to occur the following day, such as glasses and utensils that spontaneously break or bend and furniture that moves on its own accord. The phenomena seem benign at first, but quickly begin to intensify. The gnarled tree, which stands in the backyard, becomes animated and grabs Robbie through the bedroom window. While Diane and Steven rescue Robbie, Carol Anne is cornered and sucked through a portal in her closet. The Freelings realize she has been taken when her voice emanates from a television.

A group of parapsychologists from UC Irvine—Dr. Lesh, Ryan and Marty—come to the Freeling house to investigate and determine that the Freelings are experiencing a poltergeist intrusion. They discover that the disturbances involve more than just one ghost. Steven also finds out in an exchange with his boss, Lewis Teague, that Cuesta Verde is built where a cemetry was once located.

After Dana and Robbie are sent away for their safety, Dr. Lesh and Ryan call in Tangina Barrons, a spiritual medium. Tangina states that the spirits are lingering in a different sphere of consciousness and are not at rest. Attracted to Carole Anne's life force, the spirits are distracted from the real light that has come for them. Tangina then adds that among the ghosts inhabiting the house, there is also a demon known as the "Beast", who has Carol Anne under restraint in an effort to manipulate the other spirits.

The assembled group discovers that the entrance to the other dimension is through the children's bedroom closet, while the exit is through the living room ceiling. Diane passes through the entrance tied by a rope that has been threaded through both portals. Diane manages to retrieve Carol Anne, and they both drop to the floor from the ceiling unconscious. As they recover, Tangina proclaims afterward that the house is now "clean".

If you know a person novice to the horror genre, I would let them watch this first. Plenty of hide-under-the-blanket moments. Some gore and psychological tension, but not so bad it's pretentious.

1 comment:

Marvin the Macabre said...

Scariest moment from Poltergeist? My vote goes to Zelda Rubenstein's monologue where she reveals the nature of the haunting. "So much rage, so much betrayal... to Carol Anne it simply is another child, but to us, it is the beast." Never fails to give me chills.

The funny thing is, as I child, I thought it was scary as hell. Now, as a parent, it's 10 times worse. Flawed? Sure. But a classic in so many ways.