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Poltergeist (1982) Review

Poltergeist is a 1982 horror movie directed by Tobe Hooper and produced by Steven Spielberg. It’s insane popularity throughout the 80s persists today and it sets up unfair expectations for me on this first time watch.

The Freeling family lives in a model and upscale suburban neighborhood with a home courtesy of Mr. Freeling’s employment with the land developers of the neighborhood. Everything seems idyllic and normal for this well to do family. The friends are great, their neighbors are annoying, and the kids play in the streets. Everyone is safe and happy. That is, until strange things start occurring in the Freeling household.

Objects start to move of their own accord. Doors open and close sporadically. Everything is playfully innocent and astounding until it takes a dark turn and the youngest Freeling, Carol Anne, is abducted by the mysterious forces and disappears into the family television set. Desperate to get their daughter back, the Freeling’s hire a group of paranormal investigators to help.

I had just listened to the 70MM pod episode about Poltergeist and decided to give it a shot. I had never seen it before, but like so many other movies, I’ve seen the spoof version before the original and pretty much knew how it went. The Amblin vibes are EVERYWHERE in this movie and it was tough to watch at times because I wanted it to be scarier. It felt like a haunting guide for kids.

I can forgive dated effects and CGI (of which there was plenty) but the story itself was just bonkers at some points. Why was Carol Anne not reported missing by her school? Why was their son allowed to just hop into a cab and go on his merry way at the age of 8? The spectacle of it all must have been greater in 1982 to make audiences forget about those basic questions. Or maybe I’m coloring it too much with my up bringing as a kid born in 1997 and raised in a much more “dangerous” world. On top of all that, half the dialogue is painfully whispered or shouted almost incoherently.

Poltergeist is available to stream on HBO Max.

Dylan M.
Dylan M.

Dylan created Movies Not Films as a fun project to stay occupied during the start of the global COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. He started with a simple movie diary on a spreadsheet and eventually transformed it into MoviesNotFilms.com with a robust catalog of reviews, suggestions, and ranking lists. Currently living with his now-fiancé and two dogs, Dylan has a full time career but still makes time to watch all the latest movies and most of the new TV shows.

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