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Poltergeist (1982) - Page 2

post #51 of 97
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Ripoll View Post
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a Great film (capital G), and it's Great first and foremost because of it's direction. He's been coasting on that film his whole career (though, to be fair, it's not like he's a world-renowned film director, just a director of a world-renowned film) but it's a hell of a film to coast on.
It hasn't aged well for me. I hate every single one of those fucking kids so much that I want to kill them myself. It's not a bad film by any means, it just doesn't work now like I'm sure it worked in the 70's.

I'm not about to stick up for the remake or anything, 2 is the only TCM film that I like.
post #52 of 97
Can you direct a great movie by accident? Tobe Hooper can.

I actually watched Poltergeist again last month. I enjoyed the hell out of it. What surprised me was how much seemed fresh and new again, considering how many times I've seen it before. It had just been about six years, and it was totally rewarding. The speeches in the middle are great too. Well written and well acted. Craig T Nelson is quite good in this too. If that guy wanted a big character actor career now, I can't imagine why he couldn't have it.
post #53 of 97
Just about every random Nelson appearance in the last 10 years or so, he's been great. I'm still confused why that guy isn't doing a hell of a lot more work based on The Incredibles alone.
post #54 of 97
Agreed on so many points here that I won't echo any of them, but I have to point out what I think is the funniest moment: When Steve and Diane are smoking up, and Steve is talking dirty in his Donald Duck voice, Robbie wanders into the room and immediately Steve stiffens up and gives him a "Hey, partner." I'm laughing just thinking about it.

Also, not for nothing, the film gives CLOSE ENCOUNTERS a run for its money in the "staring awestruck into the lights" close-up department.

And Goldsmith, um, yeah. Nevermind 1982 as a year for film, how about it as a year just for JG? First Blood, NIMH, Poltergeist and The Challenge, not to mention Horner's Wrath of Khan (hi-yo!). Justin hit the nail on the head about Carol Anne's theme, one of the most flexible pieces of music he's written.
post #55 of 97
The great thing about Carol Ann's theme is that it's such a counterpoint to the darkness of the film, yet it's juuuust sweet enough to go around the bend into creepy. And the way he uses it in the opening credits sequence is downright Williams-esque -- that whole credit sequece, from the music to the way it's shot, just screams Spielberg to me.
post #56 of 97
When the children's choir sings the theme at the end of the film it's downright terrifying, particularly when they laugh at the end of the end credits. There's just such a brilliant duality to the whole thing - Carol Anne's theme works as a beautiful lullaby but also as suspense; the horror music is appropriately horrific but is also quite gorgeous in its gothic way.
post #57 of 97
After spending a lot of time in this thread yesterday, I went home last night and fired up the Potergeist DVD. What a great movie.

As for Dickson's suggestion that Dana is pregnant (which I'm not sure I buy), he's right that she's eating in virtually every scene she's in. But, except for the bag of potato chips, she's always eating celery and veggies and stuff. I always took this to mean that she's dieting, trying to fit into her Jordache jeans or whatever. However, in support of his theory, I note (1) her mumbled comment that she's familiar with the Holiday Inn on I-74, and (2) she's got a huge hickie on her neck during the climax of the movie. So, if she's not pregnant, she's probably a slut.

With regard to Nelson, he's great in this movie, as is Jo Beth Williams (she's also MILF-tastic here). I'm struck, however, by just how ineffectual his character is. It's Diane who is the mover and shaker in the film. She's the one who, at least initially, isn't afraid to explore the paranormal effects of the house. She's the one who Carol Anne communicates with (absent the scene when Stephen yells at Carol Anne). She's the one who saves Carol Ann. She's the one who saves the children when the Beast returns at the film's climax. Stephen, on the other hand, doesn't do much except drink, grow haggard, and yell, "You moved the tombstones, but you left the bodies!" In fact, he screws up the one task he's given: feeding the rope into the portal. One of the film's themes seems to be the power of family in the face of evil. If that's the case, I would have liked to see Stephen in on the final escape from the house: perhaps he returns to the house in time to see what's happening, runs up stairs and becomes the anchor of the chain pulling the children and Diane away from the closet portal, thus reinforcing the concept of the family as strength.

Minor gripes, though.

Oh, and I apologize for being a score ignoramus, but is "Carol Ann's Theme" the one with the children's chorus? If so, yes, it's amazing.
post #58 of 97
All the males in the film are pretty ineffectual.
post #59 of 97
I'm not sure I buy the ineffectual males idea. I always thought the reason he isn't present at the end is to make the family more vulnerable. To a kid, Dad is pretty much the last line of defense, and Spielberg mines that. Plus, Nelson pulls his son out of the tree's maw, which is badass.

And the whole quote is "You moved the tombstone, but you left the bodies! Aaaaaaaagggh! Aaaaaaaaggghhhhh!"
post #60 of 97
I thought he was shouting "Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?!?! Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?!?!"

And maybe ineffectual isn't the right word, but they certainly don't seem as in tune with the supernatural as the women in the film. Stephen, even in the face of his daughter vanishing into thin air, still thinks Tangina is a quack, Robbie is plain frightened of everything, and as for the two male assistants, they seem to look at the whole thing from a technical point of view more than a spiritual one. And the one guy flips out and leaves after his hallucination (not that I blame him too much for that).
post #61 of 97
Well that's Craig T. Nelson's character, he represents the Ronald Reagan readin', suburb worshippin' 80's man. That's what makes those themes work, that he's not only a white male living in the suburbs, he pretty much MADE the suburbs what they are, with his keen sales technique.
post #62 of 97
No denying that the women are the ones connected to the spirit world in this. It's impossible not to notice the ghosts focus on Carol Ann, it's JoBeth's love and mother instincts that allow her to enter the closet, and the two brilliant ghosts experts are women. The men (or Nelson, and the black guy) are pretty much only used as muscle.

In some regards, this movie really underlines the nuclear family ideas about gender roles. Dad earns the money and uses his strength to protect his brood from the world, while Mom is the one to dole out love and wisdom.
post #63 of 97
And the kids are almost sucked into a giant vagina.
post #64 of 97
That's true. There's lots of room for interpretation in this film, but thing was a vagina.
post #65 of 97
I wonder if Poltergeist, and it's demon cunt, played some role in making me gay.
post #66 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mattioli View Post
As for Dickson's suggestion that Dana is pregnant (which I'm not sure I buy), he's right that she's eating in virtually every scene she's in. But, except for the bag of potato chips, she's always eating celery and veggies and stuff. I always took this to mean that she's dieting, trying to fit into her Jordache jeans or whatever. However, in support of his theory, I note (1) her mumbled comment that she's familiar with the Holiday Inn on I-74, and (2) she's got a huge hickie on her neck during the climax of the movie. So, if she's not pregnant, she's probably a slut.
Must run in the family. According to Stephen his wife is 31, but Dana's 16. "Shotgun wedding and a stain on my shirt..." A few years ago I started a thread about it, talking about how they're depicted as the all-American family yet they're smoking pot, getting knocked up at 15, etc.

Thinking about it now, though, I think part of the point of the movie is to show how the idea of the "all-American" family had changed as the baby boomers/ex-hippies were having kids but at its core were still the same values.

ETA: I meant to add some shit about JoBeth Williams and giant vaginas which I was going to expertly tie into my point about the changing landscape of the American family, but I forgot.

Quote:
Oh, and I apologize for being a score ignoramus, but is "Carol Ann's Theme" the one with the children's chorus? If so, yes, it's amazing.
Indeed it is.
post #67 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arjen Rudd View Post
I wonder if Poltergeist, and it's demon cunt, played some role in making me gay.
This is the same film that features the Jo-Beth Williams magic panties reveal. You're gay in spite of Poltergeist.
post #68 of 97
Hippie boomers were becoming parents around that time, so definately. Another impressive thing about it is how evocative of that moment in history it is. I know that's Spielberg's whole thing at the time, but I think it plays better here than in Close Encounters or ET.
post #69 of 97
While it doesn't hold a candle to the original (since it makes too much of an attempt at backstory, forgetting that explaining a mystery makes things so much less interesting or scary), there are still a few things to like about Poltergeist II. Tequila vomit worm beast, to name one.
post #70 of 97
More than any other franchise, save maybe Jaws, I try to forget the sequels ever happened. The first one is so good as a one-off, and trying to impose such bullshit mythology to it all kills what worked so well. The first one is uncanny, the second is turgid. But the tequila worm is kinda cool.
post #71 of 97
What IS HR Giger doing these days?
post #72 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jakespeare View Post
Am I the only one that's just never been impressed with Tobe Hooper as a director at all? I've seen The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1 and 2, Poltergeist, Toolbox Murders, and most of Crocodile and I don't find his work that impressive outside of TCM 2 which is hysterical and Poltergeist if he really did direct it. Yes, I am aware I'm the one guy on this Earth who loves horror but doesn't like TCM. It's a stance I'm willing to take.
No, there are two of us. Stand behind me, I know how to take a punch.

On subject, I feel the urge to rewatch this more often than any other horror film. This despite the fact that I think the final act flies just the tiniest bit off the rails once the shit hits the fan. It's just a little too much. I prefer the earlier creepy business to the "running from special effects" finale that so many big-budget horror films adhere to. Thank god Goldsmith's score sells it all so well.

This thread's analysis about gender roles is very interesting. I'd only vaguely thought about it all before (except for the giant vagina, which is pretty obvious, and a little Cronenbergian), but it's a good excuse to pop the movie in yet again.
post #73 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arjen Rudd View Post
I'm not sure I buy the ineffectual males idea.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg David View Post
This thread's analysis about gender roles is very interesting. I'd only vaguely thought about it all before (except for the giant vagina, which is pretty obvious, and a little Cronenbergian), but it's a good excuse to pop the movie in yet again.
Well, we all know how broken-home Spielberg feels about "Dad" from watching ET and CE as well. Him and Tim Burton have exorcised alot of demons up on the screen.
post #74 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jakespeare View Post
Am I the only one that's just never been impressed with Tobe Hooper as a director at all? I've seen The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1 and 2, Poltergeist, Toolbox Murders, and most of Crocodile and I don't find his work that impressive outside of TCM 2 which is hysterical and Poltergeist if he really did direct it. Yes, I am aware I'm the one guy on this Earth who loves horror but doesn't like TCM. It's a stance I'm willing to take.
LIFEFORCE!
post #75 of 97
We all know the real reason we dig Lifeforce. Let's not pretend. We're bigger than that.

I'm referring, of course, to Henry Mancini's score. What did you think I meant?
post #76 of 97
Tobe Hooper deserves a little respect, especially from horror fans. TEXAS CHAINSAW is an all-timer. (Should be) Undisputed. And he'll always have the SALEM'S LOT mini-series---frightened a generation of kids with that one.
post #77 of 97
This is one of my favorite scary movies, and one of the ones that I think absolutely does hold up after all these years.

"It lies to her. It tells her things only a child can understand. It's been using her to restrain the others. To her, it simply is another child. To us, it is The Beast." Gives me the chills every time.

Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams were fantastic in this. Diane's reaction while trying to get Carol Ann back is just gut-wrenching: "She just moved through me! My God, I felt her, I can smell her. It's her. It's her. Smell my clothes! It's her, she's all over me. It's her. She's on me. It's her. I felt her. It's her. It is. It's... it is... it's my baby. It's my baby. She went through my soul."
post #78 of 97
Between this, Close Encounters and A.I., I really wish Spielberg would write more.
post #79 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Dickson View Post
Between this, Close Encounters and A.I., I really wish Spielberg would write more.
I wish he would've put the video games down and saved some of his pixie dust for INDY 4.
post #80 of 97
I've always had mixed feelings on Poltergeist.

I like the first half. Mixes atmosphere, comedy and horror nicely, and does a good job of building everything up. The tree's a little weak, both as an effect and the way the family seem to calmly forget about it, but things otherwise work well.

The scientific researchers aren't bad, either. They're somewhat stolen from earlier films (The Entity, Legend of Hell House; but especially The Stone Tape, which I might add outdoes this film on every level bar visual effects. Mind you, it does that for most horror I could name), but work well enough.

My problems are the medium, who merely comes across as unintentionally comical, partly because she seems to have succumbed to Omen syndrome (Large quantities of entirely nonsensical dialogue delivered far too seriously. I always felt sorry for Peck and Troughton, who were clearly doing the best they could) and the finale.

The finale's impressive, yes, but it throws in so many different special effects that it becomes difficult to sustain any kind of tension on any of them. Because so many different threats pop up in sich quick succession, the whole thing feels more like a lightshow than anything genuinely frightening.

Still like the film, but I do think it loses its way a little towards the end.
post #81 of 97
Just to echo something Rippoli has said many times: the scene cut from Diane first showing Stephen the kitchen phenomenon to them standing at the next door neighbors' is easily the most jarring I've ever seen. I'm almost tempted to think it's unintentional, that's it's some editing flaw that's never been fixed. It actually cuts off dialogue mid-word. So weird, and I never really noticed it until the other night.
post #82 of 97
This has been brought up twice before but I am still wondering what is with that jump cut in the first act? it almost makes you think the DVD has skipped.
post #83 of 97
I think the characters and tone are compelling enough to make it interesting today. It feels like a real suburban family affected by an other-worldly horror. It taps into several childhood fears like toys that look scary at night, dark closets, and gnarled trees scratching at the window. We're used to today's color desaturated, fake-CG horror films starring pretty people, so Poltergeist feels quaint (at first). I like the visual effects and how they feel grounded in reality, including the ghosts.
post #84 of 97

This analysis prompted me to revisit Poltergeist recently. Wow, I love watching movies from my childhood through the eyes of an adult.

 

If there's any doubt about the daughter being pregnant, notice that she's eating pickles and ice cream during the scene when all the men are watching football at the beginning. Otherwise, it is a fascinating film from all angles, but the feminist perspective is very engaging. Yes, the two big speeches about the afterlife slow the 2nd act down a bit, but they serve a purpose: the first is necessary exposition that builds up sympathy for the ghosts, and the second subverts that sympathy by revealing the beast's machinations. We must never forget the poltergeist is a threat (notice the scene after the ghosts are caught on film, the "so alone" scene, is immediately followed by the mother trying the door to Carol Anne's room and being screamed at)! 

 

The end is kind of a hard scratcher; there's lip service given to the children taking a nap if they get tired, but then the scene plays out like they're lying down to sleep for the night. This reeks of a forced contrast to the earlier scene when the boy threw the jacket on the clown and when Carol Anne is sucked into the closet, which wouldn't be as effective if they aren't in their pajamas. Still, it feels like a leftover from an earlier draft when they weren't immediately moving out. 

 

Good stuff.

post #85 of 97

One of my favorite movies and definitely one of Spielberg's best.

 

What's up with that remake?

post #86 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Dickson View Post

I thought he was shouting "Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?!?! Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?!?!"



YA ONLY MOVED THE HEADSTONES!!!  YA ONLY MOVED THE HEADSTOOOONES!!!!!!

post #87 of 97

Does anyone else have an overwhelming sense of nostalgia during the beginning of this movie, as if it's a vision of suburban Americana that we will never see again? The opening shots of the houses, kids playing, fathers watching football, all scored with that beautiful music makes it feel almost like a requiem for an age that is long gone. There's a sadness to the end of the movie that I can't quite place but seeing the family left homeless because of the machinations of the greedy corporate executive feels almost prophetic of the fate that has befell so many hard working and upwardly mobile families in American because of Wall Street.

 

 

post #88 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Hamster View Post

Does anyone else have an overwhelming sense of nostalgia during the beginning of this movie, as if it's a vision of suburban Americana that we will never see again? The opening shots of the houses, kids playing, fathers watching football, all scored with that beautiful music makes it feel almost like a requiem for an age that is long gone. There's a sadness to the end of the movie that I can't quite place but seeing the family left homeless because of the machinations of the greedy corporate executive feels almost prophetic of the fate that has befell so many hard working and upwardly mobile families in American because of Wall Street.

 

 

 

Yeah the movie is pretty much a visual metaphor of the degradation of the middle class by corporate America.
 

 

post #89 of 97

But it's not really all that idyllic a setting.  People live in houses mere feet from each other, yet barely know their neighbors.  It really is the anti-ET in that sense, since ET's suburbs seem much more welcoming and friendly (which they'd have to, to make the eventual "invasion" by the government agents seem that much more frightening and intrusive).

post #90 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Dickson View Post

But it's not really all that idyllic a setting.  People live in houses mere feet from each other, yet barely know their neighbors.  It really is the anti-ET in that sense, since ET's suburbs seem much more welcoming and friendly (which they'd have to, to make the eventual "invasion" by the government agents seem that much more frightening and intrusive).


I totally disagree.  Diane was real friendly to the construction worker who stuck his head in her window and tasted her sauce (that sounded dirty).  I find that amazingly tolerant.  If that happened today, they'd probably sue the construction company.  In ET, the family never even interacted with neighbors, just the kids and their friends were seen hanging out, which is pretty standard these days.

 

post #91 of 97

Plus, Mr. Freeling seems to have a healthy relationship with a bunch of folks in the neighborhood, if that football watching scene is any indication.  It's just the one, dickhole neighbor that he doesn't get along with, and who can't relate to that?

post #92 of 97

I haven't seen Poltergeist front to back. This thread has shown me the error of my ways. I have to rent it ASAP.

post #93 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bartleby_Scriven View Post

This analysis prompted me to revisit Poltergeist recently. Wow, I love watching movies from my childhood through the eyes of an adult.

 


Great article. I really need to see this again.

 

Poltergeist was probably one of THE movies of my childhood.  Having a mum who was a massive paranormal enthusiast, the policy on horror movies was always fairly relaxed, and this movie hit just about every button I had. There's the procedural/investigative aspect, which appealed to my own love of the paranormal. Also, as much as the film advances The Beast as a villain, it's oddly sympathetic towards the spirits in general. There's a genuine wonder and beauty to the 'ghost procession' scene, and the way that the investigator and Zelda talk about the 'other side' with such reverence really struck a chord with me. I think a lot of it was being raised Catholic and having that emotive perception of life after death; while the film doesn't endorse any specific faith, it finds real beauty in the idea of crossing over even when we see this other world at its most dangerous.

 

Looking back, the ending does feel tacked-on, but now that you lot have gone and persuaded me to watch it again I guess I'll see how it comes across! 

post #94 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ambler View Post

One of my favorite movies and definitely one of Spielberg's best.

 



LOL - tell that to Tobe Hooper. Though apparently he was so stoned during the shoot he may agree with you.

 

Agree with the idyllic tract housing vibe. Very odd positive atmosphere around new developments back in the day. And yeah, everybody knew everybody bar the occasional prickly type (or in our street the practicing Christian family, who had their own community thing going on somewhere else). ET seemed to be more about houses full of crap and indoor activities despite the bikes and the Halloween bit. Loved the parents lighting up a casual joint in their room and the way the wife is having fun with the early phenomena like it's just this cute oddity.

 

But think Spielberg was throwing a lot of ideas at the wall and it feels incongruous at times.

 

 

post #95 of 97

Revisited this film again tonight. Just a great, great film, at least up to Carol-Ann's rescue. It really struck me this time how much the score, dialogue and sound design (Which is stunning and incredibly underrated) paint a picture of the situation that is far more effective and evocative than the effects-fest the climax resorts to. You can almost see the spirit world simply from how the characters speak of it, and the sounds that slip through into the living world. The film trades on ideas rather than tricks, which is what makes it feel so timeless. OK, it takes a dive into Goofyville when HellVag shows up, but that last shot is utter perfection.

 

One nice detail I never noticed before now: the other cigar box Steven and Diane own, which they keep their pot in. Makes you wonder what they were using that first box for, and maybe a sign what the smell was that Tweety didn't like... 

post #96 of 97

I almost turn the film off once Carol Anne is rescued.  Doesn't shit the bed nearly as bad as the last part of Explorers, but it's still very weak stuff.

post #97 of 97

Love this flick to pieces.Great atmosphere and hard not to want to see Carol Anne out of danger now that I'm a parent of a little girl myself. Always thought the sequel was pretty scary but don't remember a thing about the 3rd. Will have to revisit these soonish.

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