Poltergeist Revisited

It seems that my blog of October 28 has ignited the greatest controversy of Clapperboard Junkies’ long and illustrious history, all stemming from a description of Poltergeist as a nice, scary movie that “wouldn’t traumatize you.”  The sheer volume and intensity of this has left me a little shaken.

Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration.  Described more accurately, I had to answer to my wife, who, upon reading that line, said, “Won’t traumatize you?  Why do you think half of our generation is afraid of clowns?”  (I have a sneaking suspicion she was referring to one person from our generation in particular.  And that would be one who lives in our house and is not me.)  My sister, separately, said pretty much the same.  “That movie freaked me out.”

Was I wrong about this “happy” little horror movie?  I had to admit that I haven’t seen it since I was in my early teens.  Maybe it was scarier than I remembered.

I hadn’t really planned on re-watching it.  I had taken out a number of movies for the weekend but, with viewing time limited, I had Case 39 with Renee Zellweger and Darkness with Anna Paquin as my top priorities.  But now I was intrigued.

When I saw Paranormal Activity, I actively defended myself against death from fright by watching it in broad daylight on a Monday afternoon while eating a big bowlful of Cheerios.  With Poltergeist, I did the exact opposite: I put it on at almost 11:00 p.m. on Halloween night, sitting upstairs, alone in a dark room.

And it was . . . just as I remembered it. 

Poltergeist is a fun movie filled with scares, screaming, and a more-than-generous amount of goo.  A man picks his face down to the bone and a little boy almost gets eaten by a tree.  Such scenes, however, are alternated with plenty of sunlight, family sweetness, and humor; this latter essentially bookends the movie.  And so it all ends with a smile.

If you’re thinking that those were a lot of 2011 words expended on a 1982 movie, you’re right.  But sometimes it’s worthwhile to look back and see what influenced not only the entertainment industry or even a particular genre, but our own tastes and perspectives.  Thanks for the indulgence.

Oh, and about that clown? 

He was pretty creepy.

Leave a Reply