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May 18, 2012

The Mike's Top 50 Horror Movies Countdown: #34 - Poltergeist

Previously on the Countdown: Number 50 - Happy Birthday to Me  Number 49 - Prince of Darkness  Number 48 - House on Haunted Hill  Number 47 - The Monster Squad  Number 46 - Hellraiser  Number 45 - The Fog  Number 44 - Creature From the Black Lagoon  Number 43 - Zombie  Number 42 - Tales from the Crypt  Number 41 - Bubba Ho-Tep  Number 40 - Phantom of the Paradise  Number 39 - Dog Soldiers Number 38 - Pontypool  Number 37 - Dark Water  Number 36 - Army of Darkness  Number 35 - The Legend of Hell House
(1982, Dir. by Tobe Hooper.)
Why It's Here:
When I talked about "classic" haunted house movies in that last post about The Legend of Hell House, I was talking old-fashioned stuffy stone foundation haunted houses.  I was not talking about them "Oh hey, it's a modern house that's got some haunting going on!" situations, like the one in Poltergeist.  The collaboration of Tobe Hooper and Steven Spielberg - if that's what it was....we may never know - brings haunting to a new generation.  And it does so in pretty darn fun ways.
The Moment That Changes Everything:
There are a lot of great moments I could mention here....the swimming pool (YOU TOOK THE HEADSTONES BUT YOU DIDN'T MOVE THE BODIES!), the good ol' "They're here.", or even the wacky sliding across the kitchen floor in a football helmet gag that reminds us that this is the happy '80s and that even hauntings have their happier moments.  But the clown doll and the old gnarly tree are really what get me.  
It Makes a Great Double Feature With:
Considering how successful Poltergeist was, you'd figure there would be some decent imitators that followed it.  But, you'd pretty much be wrong.  Seriously, there just aren't a lot of movies quite like Poltergeist out there.  I guess it'd play pretty well with A Nightmare on Elm Street, the other darling of the early '80s that sets its horror in a very '80s neighborhood with very '80s people and dads with receding hairlines.
What It Means To Me:
I never really quite know what to make of Poltergeist.  Part of me's all like "Hey man, nobody gives Poltergeist much credit, probably because it's all commercial and stuff". Then part of me's like "Dude, you're only putting Poltergeist at 34? What's wrong with you? It's iconic and everyone's gonna laugh at you!" Such is the conundrum of Poltergeist. I'm not wildly in love with it, I'm not gonna be some pervert who goes around websites trolling and talking about how much I love Heather O'Rourke's dead corpse, but I'm also not gonna dismiss it and usually when it's on I'm not gonna change the channel. It's a paradox of horror goodness, but when you get down to it it's basically just a darn good horror movie.


Alex Jowski said...

There's no shame in liking Poltergeist because "it's all commercial and stuff." You're right, it's a DAMN good horror movie. Those sequels on the other hand - not so much.

Michele (TheGirlWhoLovesHorror) said...

"A darn good horror movie"? Pfft. It's the BEST HORROR MOVIE EVER. At least to me it is... it's my absolute favorite. Don't get me started, I could go on and on about the amazing awesomeness of Poltergeist!

John said...

This is a very beautiful and interesting article
The most glamorous one i have read today!

GED Online

: said...

Would be very interested to hear your thoughts on POLTERGEIST 2, Mike. In some ways, I like it more than the original . . .

. . . nahh, I can't quite go that far. Forget I said that.

I *will* say, however, that POLTERGEIST 2's Reverend Kane is one of the the creepiest villains in horror movie history. And the "tequila creature" that comes out of one character about halfway into the film might just be the most disturbing image from any 80s horror film . . . damn, that thing is nightmare fuel.


The Mike said...

James, I've been meaning to revisit Poltergeist 2 forever. I think the last time I saw it was on an episode of Monstervision!

BUT - I still vividly remember Reverend Kane. That is some haunting stuff there.

Gonna have to get to it soon.