“They’re Here…” Looking back on 1982’s “Poltergeist”

Today, I want to review Poltergeist (1982) and share some buffoonery as well. Do you have buffoonery? Know where you can get some buffoonery? Then shaddap! See what I did there?!

Ok, 1982. I had a crush on my classmate Samantha. I was a husky dork who was in sixth grade and in our third year at our house. The house was big and it had a basement bathroom that scared everyone in the house, because it had no lights and was like a prison bathroom. You didn’t dare use it unless it was an extreme emergency! It had an Amityville vibe. Anyway, let’s talk Poltergeist…

My sisters decided we should go to the movies and see something called “Poltergeist.” I hadn’t heard of it yet, didn’t know what the word meant and was up for it, as long as it wasn’t like the time they convinced me to see Xanadu.

The film is about a family that buys a house built on burial grounds, which unleash the agitated spirits through the television, among other things. Well, there are about to be a few problems…

The spirits start messing with the family and at first, it seems cheeky and light-hearted. This doesn’t last as they try to swallow the brother Robbie via a gnarly tree outside of his window during a thunderstorm. Meanwhile, they get Carol Anne while the parents are saving Robbie. Carol Anne has gone into the other dimension, but can be heard from periodically. Kind of like that relative that periodically contacts you on Facebook. Brother Robbie also clowns around with his clown doll, as it tries to strangle him. Carol Anne returns as her Mom goes into the other dimension and pulls her out with the help of the Dad. They didn’t do it because they missed her. They did it because she knew how to mess with the tv and get free cable!

For a short, short time, everything seems okeydokey. But the spirits come back with a vengeance and hell breaks loose! The house falls apart, there’s unwanted undead guests in the pool, and rather unpleasant things lurking around every corner!! Arghhhhhhhh! Ok,ok. That’s a blitzed and blurry overview. Now, let me give you my feelings. Tobe Hooper directed this film and Steven Spielberg had a heavy hand in the project as well, as writer and producer. It really had that “carnival ride” feel that Spielberg was so good at delivering in the late 70’s early 80’s. Things were spooky and gross and yet retained a “tongue in cheek” feel. “Poltergeist” had everything needed to make it a blast – horror, humor, action, fantasy. I enjoyed it very much upon my first viewing and love revisiting it, every now and then.

About that first viewing…

My three sisters and I piled into the air craft carrier sized brown Buick, given to them by or Grandma. It was a giant car. You’d pull into a parking lot with the front end and the back end would arrive a week later!!

We got to the now defunct Boulevard Mall Cinema and got all the concession stand trappings we could carry. Poltergeist was a scream! Everyone in the audience shrieked or laughed during the action. Like I said, it had that “carnival ride” feel. When the film was over, we had to get to the Buick. It was raining so fast and furious, it was like to storms at once. We exited the theater and five seconds later, we were soaked from head to toe. We managed to get to the car and slowly make our way home. When we got there and I was in bed, I couldn’t ignore the massive thunder and lightning storm that was lighting up my room. My room, that had a very large and gnarly tree just outside of the window. I hate to go out on a limb, but to my young impressionable mind, it seemed slightly possible that I might have the same problem as brother Robbie. I was counting between the lightning and thunder strikes and praying the tree would LEAF me alone.

Oliver Robins and Monstermatt
Oliver Robins and Monstermatt

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