Friday, 10 February 2017
I've Just Seen: Poltergeist (1982)
Director: Tobe Hooper
'Bonkers' is the word that comes to mind when thinking of this film. This is a positive thing, as it acknowledges the ridiculousness of the film's plot, particularly in the strange narrative and tonal shifts the film has. Some moments are genuinely creepy, such as Carol Anne's 'They're here' scene with the television, while others are so over the top that they become funny.
The Freelings are your typical American family, with all the trappings of success - nice house, three children, merchandise galore, the parents even have pot to smoke. However, everything is thrown out of balance when some strange and malevolent beings start living in the house too. You could enjoy this film on several levels: a scary movie, but one with large amounts of humour, a slight satire on Regan's America, or even a scathing critique of capitalism's severe ignorance of anything sacred.
The strange tone of the film comes down to the almost co-direction of the film by Tobe Hooper, of Texas Chainsaw fame, and Steven Spielberg. It is easy to see Spielberg's influence in the many scenes about the family's bond, and the nods to Lucas' Star Wars feel like Spielberg's work too: he is a good friend of Lucas. However, the genuinely gross moments, like Diane's encounter with corpses in the swimming pool definitely come from the mind of a horror director.
One can't talk about the film without mentioning Zelda Rubinstein's medium Tangina Barrons, who steals every scene she is in. She, along with Heather O'Rourke's Carol Anne are the most memorable characters of the film. Rubinstein gets the best speech of the film, and manages to be both trustworthy and suspect as a character.
Poltergeist is an immense amount of fun, its slightly ramshackled storyline only adding to its many pleasures.