Poltergeist (1982)

Rating 15

Length 1Hr 49

Release 16.9.1982

About Strange and creepy happenings beset an average California family, the Freelings — Steve (Craig T. Nelson), Diane (JoBeth Williams), teenaged Dana (Dominique Dunne), eight-year-old Robbie (Oliver Robins), and five-year-old Carol Ann (Heather O’Rourke) — when ghosts commune with them through the television set. Initially friendly and playful, the spirits turn unexpectedly menacing, and, when Carol Ann goes missing, Steve and Diane turn to a parapsychologist and eventually an exorcist for help.


  • The music is what immediately stands out for me. Jerry Goldsmith provides a rather upbeat score for the movie. It’s surprising how unsettling it is as an audience.
  • I really enjoyed how the dog was used to track through the house and introduce us to everyone.
  • Being centred around the tv in the home and its connection to ‘the other side’, I loved the back and forth between the neighbours over the placement of the tv and their remotes.
  • There are plenty of things that visually work and that is largely to do with the use of practical effects. The pyramid of chairs being done in one shot is incredible.
  • Both Beatrice Straight and Zelda Rubinstein steak the show for me. Straight, I was unsurprised to discover was primarily a stage actress. She gave an incredible speech to Diane. Rubinstein was just a great presence and I only wish she’d arrived sooner.


  • I found I had a massive disconnect with this film. There was nothing about the family that I liked or engaged with. I didn’t find that they gelled well as a ‘family’.
  • There was a lot of scenes that I didn’t find interesting (the dead bird, the parents talking in bed smoking pot) and there was a really odd mid-scene cut about 30 mins that makes the film feel amateurish.
  • It takes way too long to get to the bulk of the movie so it feels really bloated. It happens again at the end when we get a false resolution. We don’t need all that time spent with them packing.
  • So many illogical plot choices. Why on earth would a kid who is petrified of the tree be seen climbing the fucker all the way to the top at the start of the movie?! Who the fuck bought the creepy assed clown for the lad who clearly is petrified of it.
  • The reveal of the graveyard being what the houses are built on comes a little too late and appears a little forced.

Final Thoughts

It’s a solid story, but the pacing and editing is way off kilter for it to be a repeat viewing affair.

One thought on “Poltergeist (1982)”

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