Director: Tobe Hooper
Craig T. Nelson/Steve
Heather O'Rourke/Carol Anne
The Freelings are your typical suburban American family. Things start getting abnormal when furniture starts moving by itself and everything goes to hell when the youngest daughter of the family, Carol Anne (O'Rourke) disappears somewhere in the house. And let me tell you something, she isn’t hiding under the bed, she’s on the other side amongst evil spirits who have no intention of letting her go. Bring on the ghost experts! We got a poltergeist.
Probably the best ghost movie I have ever seen. The movie has everything going for it. Start with the characters. The Freeling family feels like a true one. The chemistry between all those who compose the unit is astounding. I swear to god I really believed Craig T. Nelson was married to JoBeth Williams…damn…I still do! The film establishes its character from the first frame and we really get to care about these people.
The film’s interpretation of suburban life is on the money. From the football game gathering, the remote control wars (funny stuff) and the parents smoking a little bit of that sweet cheeba on the side. The humor in the film flows naturally and never feels forced. The setting feeling so familiar makes the grisly events more horrifying. The film takes mundane, harmless childhood fears that we can all relate too and turns it against us. Be it the closet light, the creepy toy clown, the loud storm outside or the spooky tree out the window.
Every time you think the film can’t go any further in scaring the crap out of you…it does. This film is far from predictable and keeps on surprising you. Add to that, strong emotional moments, suspense, chills, excellent visual effects and a heart pumping ending and you got yourself a classic.
My only complaint about the film is that after the first ghost event is resolved they stay in the house, separate from each other, welcoming yet more spirit havoc. I mean if I went through what they went through I’d be out of that house before you can say sequel. But this minor flaw is easily overlooked and when it’s all said and done, you know that this film is a keeper. They’re here…
Guy ripping his face off, a slithering steak, creepy ghosts, an evil, kid chomping tree and lots of cadavers. Wonderful.
I’ll make this very simple. The whole family unit is dead on and you will grow to love them and root for them. I don’t think I ever got this attached to characters in a film. Great work guys. Zelda Rubinstein (Tangina) delivers a kooky and honest performance as the psychic who’s trying to help. I liked her in this one.
T & A
None, but I will say that JoBeth Williams is one sexy woman and she charmed the hell out of me. Craig T. Nelson is hot too.
I know there’s controversy on who directed this gem. Some say Steven Spielberg had lots to do with it (he produced and came up with the story for the film) and that he overpowered Hooper. Whoever is responsible for the directing, he did a wonderful job. The film looks great, is very moody and grounded in reality. They do great things with the lighting (loved the TV flashing), pacing, directing actors and scares. I did notice a few bad editing cut though and did they have to make that "Cheetos" product placement so obvious? I’m just busting…The movie is very well directed.
A remarkable score by Jerry Goldsmith. Adore the "Carol Anne" theme…Wow!
I know most of you have seen this movie already (I hope). Compare this film to the recent ghost movies: The Haunting or House On Haunted Hill. It blows em away. This film is solid like a rock. If you haven’t seen it, stop reading this review and go rent it. If you have seen it, finish reading this review and see it again. This film is what American horror cinema should be about today.
The film is strikingly similar in many ways to a Twilight Zone television episode entitled "Little Girl Lost" that may have inspired the movie. In this episode a little girl falls through a porthole to another dimension in her bedroom and can be heard calling to her parents from different locations in the house to come rescue her.
While the on-screen director's credit goes to Tobe Hooper there is a wealth of evidence to indicate that writer/producer Steven Spielberg was responsible for most of the creative decisions in the movie, with Hooper merely responsible for the mechanics of shooting scenes.
Movie on the TV in an early bedroom scene is A Guy Named Joe (1943), a film about a pilot who returns to the world as a ghost. It was later remade by Steven Spielberg into Always (1989).
The hands which pull the flesh off the investigator's face in the bathroom mirror are Spielberg's.
The house that gets sucked into a black hole at the end was actually a model about 4 feet across. The model took several weeks to complete. The scene was shot as follows: camera placed directly above model, which was mounted over an industrial strength vacuum generator (the front door was facing directly up, straight at the camera). The model also had about 100 wires attached to various points of the structure. These wires went down through the back of the house, and down through the vacuum collection sack. The camera was turned on, and took 15 seconds to wind up to the required 300 frames per second. When ready, the cameraman gave the cue. The vacuum was turned on, the wires were yanked suddenly, and several SFX guys blasted the house with pump-action shotguns. The entire scene was over in about two seconds, and they had to wait until the film was developed before they knew if they would have to do it again. When played back at 24 fps, would take approximately 12 seconds for the house to collapse. Luckily, they got it right on the first go. The finished scene was sent to Spielberg, who was on location shooting E.T. He gave it to a projectionist, who assumed it was just the "dailies" from ET. The scene came on, and the projectionist said "Holy shit! What was that?" Spielberg had the remains of the model encased in perspex, and it is now sitting on his piano. The model itself was worth well over $25,000.
Mrs. Freeling's line "Mmmm... smell that mimosa" is taken directly from The Uninvited (1944). The sign at the Holiday Inn reads, "Welcome Dr. Fantasy and Friends." Dr. Fantasy is a nickname for producer Frank Marshall (I).
O'Rourke, Heather, who played the little girl Carol-Anne, and Dominique Dunne who played the teenage daughter, are buried in the same cemetery: Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles. Dunne was strangled into brain-death by her boyfriend in 1982, the year of the film's release. Six years later, O'Rourke died of intestinal stenosis.
The film was originally given a "R" rating, but the filmmakers protested successfully and got a "PG" rating.