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Poltergeist (1982)


History has recalled Poltergeist as a Steven Spielberg film, as most viewers don’t remember that Tobe Hooper, famed director of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, was behind the camera. (Spielberg wrote and produced.) Hooper’s skill with gore combined with Spielberg’s ability to sanitize anything into family-friendliness makes Poltergeist a smash horror hit –and it’s rated PG. (Barely, it was a hard-fought PG.)

Pardon the cliche, but the story does for TV what Psycho did for showers. Carol Anne (Heather O’Rourke) says ‘They’re here…’ and with those two words, let the haunting begin, as a ghost/demon/Indian spirit abducts Carol Anne into some vague ethereal plane, and mom (JoBeth Williams) and dad (Craig T. Nelson) do anything to get her back, via scientists and mediums alike. As scary as the film was in 1982, I found it 10 times more horrifying today… now that I have a three year-old whose voice is uncannily similar to O’Rourke’s.

The new 25th Anniversary Edition DVD includes a documentary on the making of the film and the ‘real world of poltergeists’ as well as restored and remastered video.