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Poltergeist
BLU-RAY disk
Nov 8, 2010 By: Jason Adams
Poltergeist order
Director:
Tobe Hooper

Actors:
Craig T Nelson
JoBeth Williams
Zelda Rubinstein

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A family learns the hard way not to build their house on top of a graveyard.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I've somehow managed to go my entire life without seeing POLTERGEIST. (I know, I know.) As popular as it was, I was keenly aware of the pop culture elements ("They're heeere!") and the gossip (the alleged POLTERGEIST curse, the rumors that Steven Spielberg ghost directed it). But finally watching it as a whole film, I can see what the fuss was all about; POLTERGEIST is classic, scary fun.

It's not one of the scariest movies ever made, but it has a lot going for it as a horror film, mainly a spooky atmosphere and a solid group of characters. Director Tobe Hooper does a great job building up the tension and frights, from the eerie (the self-stacking chairs) to the horrifying (homeboy ripping his own face apart). By the time the end rolls around and all hell breaks loose, you're already on edge for the family and sucked in to the chaos. And thank God for practical effects. Even if some of the effects seem dated, they're still quite effective. Even the potentially sillier set pieces, such as the tree eating or the closet black hole. add a sense of more tangible terror because it's real, in-film effects. Plus you have the added bonus of Jerry Goldsmith’s classic score escalating everything.

The filmmakers also realize the importance of the characters, and take their time setting up the the family as real people before they go all batsh*t. (Love the mom and pop smoking pot after the kids go to bed!) Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams both put in solid, believable work as the parents, especially when things get more emotional after the disappearance of their daughter. Even the kids are pretty decent actors, even if the oldest daughter was pretty pointless as a character. All in all, the film presents a nice combination of mystery and a sense of escalation.

And to credit the conspiracy theorists, there are a ton of Spielbergian touches from, certain framed shots to overarching themes. Not saying the rumors are true, but you can bank on the fact that it's a well put-together movie no matter who's responsible for it.
THE EXTRAS
They Are Here: The Real World of Poltergeists: I suppose this half-hour documentary on real life hauntings is fairly interesting, but it has a very superficial connection the film itself. And granted it's the only special feature on the disc, it's a bit of a copout. Although given the "curse," perhaps no one involved wanted to cooperate.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
As a new victim of POLTERGEIST, I can see why it's fondly remembered and referenced over 25 years later. It's got a decent story and real character to back up all the spooks and scares. The Blu Ray has a good transfer of the film, but don't expect any real bonus material.

Extra Tidbit: The shot of the chairs rearranging themselves and balancing on the table was actually done in one take with a little practice.
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