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  • Gareth Crook

Poltergeist (1982) - 9/10

Continuing my classic horror catch up with Poltergeist. I’ve got quite high expectations for this one going in. It’s certainly on the higher end production wise. Carol Anne (Heather O’Rourke) is an adorable little blond girl with a cute smile and a creepy habit of talking to static filled televisions. She lives with her family in picturesque small town middle America. New homes, BMXs, white folks everywhere. It’s writer Spielberg’s America from ET with a 15 rating. Cookie cutter parents that smoke weed and read Reagan biographies. On the surface all is normal, aside Carol Anne. Before long the voices in the TV break free as she declares to shocked parents in a vibrating bedroom that “They’re here!”. They being the quickly christened ‘TV People’. Mum (JoBeth Williams) doesn’t seem phased by this. The poltergeists seem fun and she embraces the magic trickery. Dad (Craig T. Nelson) doesn’t seem that concerned either… considering. That’s all about to change though with trees grabbing children through storm shattered windows and Carol Anne being sucked into a white void through the closet. As they all frantically run around the house shouting “baby where are you” they soon figure it out. She’s in the TV! It’s a cracking opening act and quite honestly as we roll into act two, with the so called paranormal experts brought in by the family, I’m totally gripped! Williams and Nelson are brilliant. Broken parents on the surface delivering whip smart gags for the audience. As is Dr Lesh (Beatrice Straight) as the lead expert helping them navigate the supernatural. It pulls the deft trick of tugging several emotions at once, from creeping fear to utter joy as they try to coax Carol Anne back to them and away from something sinister on the other side. Bloody hell I’m close to tears at one point. Oh hell I’ll admit it, several points!! The effects are of the day, but still effective. It’s pure fantasy of course (sorry believers) but it works so well, it feels totally natural. Just a family looking for their lost child. Well aside some freaky visions that see people trying to tear their own faces off. It’s beautifully written as you’d expect and brilliant put together. Getting the balance between character, story and blockbuster excitement spot on. It even manages to plug most of the plot holes you find in films like this in this era and of course even manages to tick the cult classic box, I suspect almost instantly. Thanks to things like one liners from clairvoyant Tangina (Zelda Rubinstein) “Would y’all mind hanging back, you’re jammin’ my frequencies”. In a film with so much to love, it’s remarkable that she wanders in with only half an hour to go and steels the show. She’s the driver in a rip roaring sequence that had me glued to the screen. It’s not over though. Poltergeist is a brilliant rollercoaster that just keeps going. Expectations well and truly met.



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