Directed by Tobe Hooper and produced by Steven Spielberg, Poltergeist (1982) is a slick, big budgeted, special effects laden extravaganza. It is also a well-written film – now considered a classic - with a sly commentary on the corrupting influence of television, the tribulations of suburban life, colonialism, the ill-treatment of Native Americans, the break-down of the nuclear family unit, and the damaging excesses of capitalism and consumerism.

The influence of Spielberg is overwhelmingly evident in the film’s representation of the all American family, and their pursuit of the American dream. With Hooper in the director’s chair however, these moments appear almost satirical, and cracks soon begin to appear. To the central family’s horror, they realise their white, middle-class American dream is built upon the graves of indigenous people, and their suburban ideal crumbles when vengeful spirits abduct their young daughter, Carol-Anne...

Head over to Eye for Film to read my full review of Poltergeist and the special features available on the Blu-ray it has just been released on.

If you’re interested in reading more about the representation (and subversion) of the family unit in the films of Tobe Hooper (including, of course, Poltergeist), head here and pick up a copy of Diabolique Magazine, issue 20, to read my essay Family Man.


Roman J. Martel said…
Love this movie. It works as a wonderful horror film and as a social commentary all at once. For the most part the effects still hold up really well, but I think that the mood and atmosphere created in the film are what end up making this one still so effective and chilling.

I once read an interesting comparison between this film and "Close Encounters of a Third Kind" as the same stories told from different gender approaches. Close Encounters is the male view (Devil's Tower) and Poltergeist is the female. An interesting analysis that holds up pretty well.

One of the reasons this movie works so well is Jerry Goldsmith's amazing score. The man knew his horror music and he really knocks it out of the park with this one. He does some really disturbing stuff with musical chaos in the film. And of course Carol Anne's theme, so innocent and used to really touching effect in key scenes.

Great review on this one.
Party Slashers said…
This review makes me see Poltergeist in a whole new life. It's been about a decade since I've seen the movie last but I didn't analyze the metaphors the way you did. Excellent review!

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