10/17/10

...And Now The Poltergeist Rant

As far as I can recall, I don’t think I’d seen Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist (1982) since it made its network television debut in the mid ‘80’s. Looking back on it, I recall it being really scary. The tree and the clown doll made a real impression. After all, I related to Robbie. We both liked baseball (yeah, there was a time I liked baseball), and had the same Star Wars sheets (yeah, there was a time when I liked Star Wars). Plus as a kid who had a pretty intense fear of ventriloquist dummies, that clown thing was similar enough. Robbie throws a jacket over it at night when he goes to sleep. That would not have been enough for me. I would not have been happy with that thing until it was in a black trash bag packed up somewhere until it could be sold at a yard sale. I speak from experience. I’d listen to Edgar Bergen on radio shows, but that devil Charlie McCarthy had to go.

I also remember Poltergeist making me glad that I didn’t live in a two story house. There was no way that a tree would get me. They might be able to bust into your house with ther limbs, but there was no way they were going to bend over to do it. Hey, I was nine. It made sense at the time. So anyway, the other day I saw that Poltergeist was going to be on in HD in the middle of the night so I recorded it. Now, I’ll be honest. I usually don’t pay any attention to if things are in HD or not. I can tell a difference, but it just doesn’t matter to me. It’s the same reason I still don’t have a Blu Ray player, but they’re going to trap me with their nifty special features one of these days. I still like video tape best. Well, unless I can get a DVD rip of a video tape (and watch it on a big ass TV) then all the more better.

I’m way off topic here….. Or am I? Would Carol-Ann have even been in any danger now in the world of HDTV cable feeds? When’s the last time you saw a station go off the air for the night? The Key family used to be living the high life off the royalties of Francis Scott’s tune, but now they lead a humbler existence scraping by on sporting event money. They couldn’t be here because there’s always some kind of juicer or skin tonic or guitar lessons from Estaban running no matter what hour of the night it is. When young Carol-Ann woke in the night, she would be in more danger of running across Tony Little’s Gazelle than spirits and demons from hell.

So many things about Poltergeist would have to be different now. A family has a child go missing though a demon portal in a closet? I’m pretty that kind of power also has a side effect of summoning Nancy Grace. This is a blonde American child that’s gone missing. It would be an outrage. People would be marching in the streets protesting ghosts taking babies. People would start running for office on the platform that if elected they would promise to protect our children from the spectral menace. The Ghost Hunters would go from Roto Rooter men by day to Congressmen. Anderson Cooper would do a heartfelt special from their lawn where he would be surprised to find that the guy that played Coach is the little girl’s father. There would even be new legislation drafted (though no one would be able to agree to pass it) called the Spirit of Carol Ann law which forbids any ghost, phantasm, spectre, ghoul, goblin, bodach, or spirit person to exist on any plane within 20 yards of a child. The real problem would come in enforcing it. How does one put the cuffs on a giant head that sticks out of a closet?

I realize that I haven’t really talked so much about the movie, but I really don’t feel like rehashing the Hooper-Spielberg debate, talking about the Poltergeist curse, or reviewing a movie that a lot of you have seen. I don’t know if it came through, but all that absurdity above was me being nostalgic. Weird, huh? That’s how I do it. For all its faults and ups and downs, Poltergeist stands as both a time capsule of ‘80’s blockbuster effects and a perfectly drawn portrait of an average American family around then. To be honest, I just thought it was an average film with some great imagery, but the (let’s face it) Speilbergian touches are what makes it a real and compelling story. If Hooper had been left to his own devices, Robbie would have gotten cut in half by the tree, Carrie-Ann would never be seen again, Diane would have been raped by a ghost, and Steve would have gone mad and ate Tangina. (There is a ‘T’ there, Tangina.) All in all, happy I took another look at it, and still happy that I live in a one floor home.

6 comments:

  1. Great review. The first (and only) time I saw this was on TV back in the 80s. Probably the same airing you saw. I never forgot that eerie clown doll or that dead parakeet that she buries in the backyard.

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  2. Excuse me, but . . .

    JERRY GOLDSMITH RULES THE KNOWN UNIVERSE!!!!!! EVEN FROM THE BEYOND, AFTER GOING INTO THE LIGHT, HE REACHES US IN ASTONISHING WAYS!!!!

    So, there's my Poltergeist rant.

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  3. It's funny you should mention the whole static-air TV time, because I just watched Poltergeist again a couple weeks ago and commented on the same thing.

    You brought up a lot of great points about the changes in culture from the premiere of this movie 'til now.

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  4. What will always make Poltergeist such an effective movie is how it hits both kids and adults: like you said, as a 9 year old, that clown doll under your bed and scary tree in your yard is terrifying. As an adult, it's the horror of losing your child (if you have one) to something you can't identify. Funny how different things affect you with age. Yes, the clown strangling will ALWAYS scare me, but today, it's that tense scene when JoBeth Williams is first talking to Carol Anne and Tangina is telling her there's a presence with her that's bad. It's horrifying to imagine what that must feel like.

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  5. I still adore Poltergeist after all these years. I want to curl up with Jobeth and Craig T and smoke a doobie with them right now.

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  6. I really love those movies, they are perfect for Halloween, and speaking of Halloween I found this website http://www.thatsmyface.com/f/masks that can create a super-realistic mask of anyone from just a photo. Imagine going as yourself, your boss, your favorite celebrity or worst enemy to a Halloween party?!

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