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Poltergeist (25th AE)
DVD disk
10.23.2007 By: Quigles
Poltergeist (25th AE) order
Director:
Tobe Hooper

Actors:
Craig T. Nelson
JoBeth Williams
Beatrice Straight

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Nice family. Mean ghosts.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
On my absurdly long list of films under the category of "Why the hell haven't I watched this yet?" POLTERGEIST was right up near the top. Having now finally seen it, one thing struck me as odd: isn't this film supposed to be scary? It's highly entertaining, to be sure, but there's so little tension before the lunacy hits, you won't even have a chance to get frightened. Maybe that didn't matter 25 years ago, back when the effects weren't quite so dated (albeit still cool-looking), and seeing bizarre occurrences in a house was already enough to shock the pants off kids, but those days are over. What's left is a film that, while not being able to deliver by way of frightening horror, certainly delivers with plenty of supernatural fun.

Whereas most "ghost" horror films involve teens going off to haunted houses and the like, this film works because it avoids these kinds of clichés. It's merely about a normal suburban family in their normal suburban home, which just so happens to be buried on top of dozens of desecrated corpses. Whoops. Naturally, the lingering spirits are the vocal type, and all hell breaks loose. In other words, it's like a cheerful and cutesy family film that's been had its way with by THE HAUNTING.

Hopefully you're fond of kids, because most of the events that take place in POLTERGEIST involve the two youngins in the family (the little blonde girl in particular—"They're heeere..."). Between this, E.T., and WAR OF THE WORLDS, it would appear Spielberg has an affinity for screaming children. Not that I'm implying anything.

Despite this being my first experience watching the film, POLTERGEIST's place in cinema history has given way to so many imitations and pop culture references that seeing it now gave me déjà vu. From the tree attacking little Robbie to the mom entering the spirit realm to save her daughter, there are an endless amount of memorable sequences. It's the type of movie you sit back and admire, quietly thinking to yourself, "Well that's cool." I wouldn't say it's earned itself the ranking of a classic, but it's definitely one of the earliest films (next to GHOSTBUSTERS) to handle the "ghosts and ghoulies" premise in such an enjoyable way.
THE EXTRAS
Prepare to be let down. The best thing about this DVD is the restored and remastered video/audio. The special features, meanwhile, offer only one featurette, and it's not even a good one. What a jip (especially considering the film's controversial history).

They are Here: The Real World of Poltergeists Revealed (31:00): This 2-part featurette is nothing short of laughable, though still amusing for that very reason. It features "real-life" psychics and ghost hunters discussing their professions and occasionally the film (which apparently delivers a realistic interpretation of what they do! wowzers!).
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Dear Warner Bros.,

I speak to you not as a diehard fan of POLTERGEIST, but as somebody who cares enough about their DVD collection to know when they're being swindled by a half-assed "Special Edition" release. There's so much rich background to this film, the lack of extra material is obscene. Maybe next time you'll try a little harder giving consumers more bang for their buck (on top of just improved video/audio). For now though, kindly go f*ck yourselves.
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