Poltergeist (USA, 1982) - Color, Director(s): Tobe Hooper
MPAA Rating: PG
Approx. 114 min.
Z-rating: 5 stars out of 5
Cheese Factor: 2 stars out of 5
Fun fact: Did you know the PG-13 rating wasn't introduced until July 1984? That would explain how this movie gets away with a PG rating despite some pretty graphic and intensely frightening scenes. Tobe Hooper (Texas Chainsaw Massacre) is at the helm of this movie that's co-written and co-produced by Steven Spielberg. Due the fact that real skeletons were used as props, it is believed there is a curse associated with these films because a few people involved with this film died prematurely. There's no denying how significant this film's influence has been. The first ever Simpson's Treehouse of Horror ("Bad Dream House") episode makes a couple references to this film, the house was built on an Indian burial ground and the house implodes at the end like the one in this movie. Family Guy had an entire episode dedicated to parodying this movie (Season 4 Episode 26 - "Petergeist"). Troma Entertainment produced a movie called Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead that obviously references this movie, a fast food restaurant is built on top of an Indian burial ground that causes the spirits to manifest as chicken zombies. Scary Movie 2 also makes a few references to this movie.
Craig T. Nelson plays Steven Freeling, a real estate agent whose house was built on top of a cemetery. Now the spirits of the desecrated graves are pissed off. The disturbances start out small like chairs stacking on their own and things moving around by themselves. They actually seem pretty excited about it at first, that is until a tree breaks through the window and takes their son! While the family is busy getting the son down from the tree, their youngest daughter (Carol Anne) is sucked into another dimension through the closet. A team of parapsychologists are called in to investigate. You can tell the movie has a sense of humor when one of them is bragging about how he captured a hot wheels car moving across the floor over a span of seven hours. Craig Nelson opens the door to Carol Anne's room and everything in the room is levitating through the air. Those funny moments lull you into a false sense of security because the next thing you know, a fucking steak is crawls across the kitchen counter and a drumstick that someone was eating is suddenly infested with maggots.
Gore: There's a scene where one of the paranormal investigators starts ripping his face off and we see chunks of flesh fall into the sink. Even though it's a quick scene, it's pretty disturbing.
Awesome: Very. From what I understand, the premise for this movie was based on the history of Cheesman Park in Denver, Colorado. Originally a cemetery where vagrants and criminals were buried, a crooked undertaker landed a government contract to relocate the graves when they decided to turn it into a park. Instead of ordering new coffins for the bodies, he was ordering child-sized coffins and chopping the bodies into pieces to fit. Sometimes it would take up to three child-sized coffins to fit a body. After the undertaker fled with the money, a lot of bodies were left behind. There are an estimated 2,000 bodies still buried beneath the park. Supernatural occurrences have been reported every since. This is one of the most terrifying supernatural horror movies ever made. I know someone who still refuses to watch this movie to this day because of how much it scared them as a child. Zelda Rubinstein was fantastic as the paranormal medium, she will be greatly missed. There were two sequels and a TV series that followed, none of which were as successful as the original. There's also a reboot in the works, slated for a 2015 release.