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.


Treat

  • 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.

Trick

  • 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.

The Thing (1982)

Rating X/18

Length 1 hr 44

Release 26.8.1982

About In remote Antarctica, a group of American research scientists are disturbed at their base camp by a helicopter shooting at a sled dog. When they take in the dog, it brutally attacks both human beings and canines in the camp and they discover that the beast can assume the shape of its victims. A resourceful helicopter pilot (Kurt Russell) and the camp doctor (Richard Dysart) lead the camp crew in a desperate, gory battle against the vicious creature before it picks them all off, one by one.


Treat

  • This is a near perfect film for me. There’s a perfect and smooth introduction to the cast. It’s not clear at the beginning who is the protagonist, and even when you consider Kurt Russell’s Mac your main man, the film throws I doubt your way. Even if movie logic tells you that he can’t be the Thing, your breath still catches.
  • Speaking of Kurt Russell, he is perfectly cast and I love the initial progression of his character from the reluctance to fly to Norway’s camp to insisting they have to go a second time. Also, he has such pretty, pretty hair. While many blokes might not appreciate it, but as a woman with little else in the film designed to engage me (Other than a fucking awesome plot), I’m going to pick up on his god damn pretty hair.
  • There’s no women in this film. I’m not saying the absence of women is the treat, but the way in which its handled is. Not only are there no women cast, there’s not naked posters objectifying women. In fact, there’s no mention of women at all. The only thing that’s presented is when Palmer turns off a game show to play porn and even that is done in a tasteful way; we hear it, but at no point to we get a shot of it.
  • The music is terrifying. I’ve never found a score more effective than the rhythmic beat from this theme. It’s almost that its simplicity is what makes it so terrifying.
  • The effects of this film are still as gory and horrific As I’d imagine they were back in the day. Yes, some of the transformations make the human features look ‘fake’, but I feel that actually adds to the horror of it all, especially when it comes to THAT scene. There’s no CGI that could make that crawling head freak me out more.
  • The tension in this film is constantly evolving, but it never lets up and the key to that is how the film uses ambiguity and suspicion to tear the group apart.

Trick

  • The opening shot is very similar to the once scene in Predator. By that I mean the childlike corner drawing of the Earth and the spaceship entering the atmosphere. Something that I feel is a little pointless other than letting you know height from the get go its aliens. Plus, Earth in the corner?! No wonder we all grew up popping the sun on the corner of our page when we painted as kids.
  • I would have liked a mention of life beyond the camp. There’s no mention of having people ‘back home’ and I think that might have added emotional weight and give at least one of them something to fight for.

Final Thoughts

A film that is well made, well cast and scary as hell. Not so much the creature itself, but how easily man turns on itself and the fear of the ultimate unknown.