“Some people believe that when you die there is a wonderful light. As bright as the sun but it doesn’t hurt to look into it. All the answers to all the questions you want to know are inside that light. And when you walk to it… you become a part of it forever. Now, some people die, but they don’t know they’re gone…”
Poltergeist is brilliant and beautiful. The events in the 1982 film almost seem like they could truly happen, and perhaps they have without the world knowing. Set in perfect suburbia, five year old Carol Anne Freeling awakens her family one night, yelling into the static of the television.
Little does the Freeling family know that Carol Anne, having been born in their perfect house in Cuesta Verde, has a light within her that is a gateway to the afterlife. A light which will let the spirits, or the “tv people”, into our world – starting with two little words:
The scares in Poltergeist come from subtle everyday occurrences or objects that turn menacing and horribly frightening. The believability and natural ease of the actors that portray our main characters, and our commonplace landscape, make everything that much more awesome.
It’s these little everyday things made to be terrifying that make Poltergeist so damn good. Here are a few of them to note:
- It all begins with little Carol Anne. Talking to the tv, answering unheard questions.
- How often do we see children talking to themselves or to an imaginary friend? Carol Anne’s answering questions being asked of her by an unseen entity is spooky because it is incredibly realistic.
- Older brother Robbie is awkward and has a sweet room decorated with numerous Star Wars toys, posters and sheets, an Alien poster and a clown doll. That f***ing clown doll…
- How many of us had some sort of toy as a child that looked far more menacing than it really was? The use of this doll is brilliant in this respect. Something so inanimate can take on a life of its own with the right mindset.
- Diane Freeling blames her daughter’s activities first on sleepwalking, as she herself did it when she was 10 years old.
- Again, how many of us have experienced this? Apparently my mother found me many times in our kitchen, staring at a wall. If she tried to nudge me to go back to bed I’d either start talking to her in incoherent message “I have to get toys for the boys” was one line, or I’d walk in circles. I remember nothing of this.
- Diane and Steve are seen smoking pot before all of the weird occurrences begin.
- While this isn’t a common everyday thing for most people, the idea that they’re “bad” parents by doing drugs is something to note. Perhaps their “troubles” could be seen as stemming from this act.
- The creepy tree. Steve tells Robbie to not be afraid, it’s just an “old tree” that has been around since before the company he works for built the neighborhood. He tells Robbie the tree is there to protect him. Robbie’s response? “It looks at me. It knows I live here.”
- Trees ARE creepy. If you stare at a tree long enough, its bark inevitably becomes a tough skin, any knots or holes become a face. And perhaps it is just sitting there, waiting to eat you.
- The closet is the portal to the other side. It opens up and sucks Carol Anne inside.
- Come on, do I have to explain the disturbing nature of closets?
- Ebuzz, the dog, is seen barking at the wall, ultimately bringing a toy to an unseen playmate. And he sits, patient, waiting as Diane nervously looks on.
- I have two cats that will suddenly both stare at the same spot in the room. No, there was no sound, there is no bug, there is nothing there I see that could cause them to do so. Maybe it is movies like Poltergeist that bring attention to something more malevolent that could be taking place, or it could be that Poltergeist is making something out of nothing. Either way, it’s great.
- THE SWIMMING POOL! After Carol Anne is sucked away while the family is distracted by Robbie and the tree, Diane’s first instinct after a furious search is the pool.
- I’ve had many moments very recently while watching my nieces and nephew where I turn around and they’re gone. Where are they? Where did they go? Immediately a mothering mind goes to the worst case scenario in that brief second. The idea of an open watery grave in the backyard is simple and terrifying.
- The entity, the Beast, tricks Carol Anne, speaking to her, as Tangina states, as a child. Confusing her to the point that she thinks it is another child.
- How often in real life are children lured in some way by someone who can speak on their level? Predators do this in many forms – more prominent now with the internet – with the ultimate wish of harming the innocent child in some way.
- Steak. Something as innocent as steak is made to be terrifying. Marty just wants a snack and well, that steak is a bad choice. He feels sick and runs to the bathroom…only to tear his face off.
- I don’t know about you, but the steak still grosses me out to this day. And following it up with the face scene? Sheesh. It’s a reminder to not eat raw meat and to never look in the mirror when on hallucinogenics. Not that I take hallucinogenics…
- In the end, we learn that a greedy Mr. Teague is to blame, ultimately. He removed the headstones from the cemetery that Cuesta Verde was built on, but did not remove the bodies. “It’s just people. We’ve done it before.”
- Greedy bastards. They’re everywhere. And they’re just another simple occurrence shown in Poltergeist that are just a reflection of everyday life.