Since my vcr finally kicked the bucket the other night, I've had to forgo two movies I was looking forward to watching, Wes Craven's The Hills Have Eyes and George Romero's The Crazies. This saddens me as I have been growing particularly fond of 1970's horror flicks as of late, so I was eagerly awaiting their viewings. Thankfully, however, Poltergeist happened to be in at the library yesterday, so I was able to give that a second chance instead...
Plotline: A suburban family begins to experience weird events in their home. Their daughter begins speaking to a staticky television, things start moving around the house, and soon enough, some sort of hole into another dimension appears and sucks their youngest daughter into it. The parents must find a way to get her back...
Scariness factor: This movie is a Steven Spielberg flick through and through. Not necessarily a COMPLAINT, but it surely does have that Spielberg feel (and despite the fact that Tobe Hooper directed the thing, you probably wouldn't be able to tell even if your life depended on it). It's slick and Hollywoodish, and the special fx vary from the super-lame (giant demon-head erupting from closet, fake "smoke") to the awesome (shit moving around the house, people being sucked towards the closet, etc.), but it has some good scary moments if you can look beyond some of the hokier special fx.
Originality: There's some originality to it, but it makes a lot of familiar horror-movie moves throughout. However, there is a "dragged up the walls" scene in it that must've inspired (or at least given ideas to) A Nightmare on Elm Street, although the latter does it FAR creepier. All in all, the movie is a ghost story that throws in the notion of an "alternate dimension" that living beings can be sucked into as well--nothing TERRIBLY original, but at least a bit of a twist on a classic.
Complaints: I was left confused about a few things--in the movie, the notion of a "poltergeist" is expounded upon--the parapsychologists stress that the problem may not be a haunting (which has to do with a PLACE) and may be associated with a PERSON (presumably their daughter). And, of course, the movie is CALLED Poltergeist. And yet, I'm left wondering whether we're supposed to ASSUME it's a poltergeist given that it looks like a regular old haunted house to me (especially since much energy is put towards explaining that the weird events are due to the fact that the house was built on an old cemetery)--the fact that there are sequels probably says that it IS a poltergeist (if the damn events keep following the girl around), but though it's perhaps a picky point, the fact that they spend a good chunk of dialogue emphasizing the idea of the poltergeist when, in reality, it doesn't ever seem to BE a poltergeist was a bit confusing to me. Anyways, other than just basic moments of faltering logic, my only big complaints were that a) it has that dude from Coach in it (though surprisingly, he was much less irritating than I expected), and b) it has some DAMN awful special fx--I mean, really, how hard is it to get a good-looking ghost-fog going? I mean, if you can make a guy peeling his own face off look convincing, is fog really THAT much more difficult? Also, the little girl irritates me. I don't know why. But she does.
High Points: Despite them also being a complaint, some of the special fx are also a high point of the movie as well. There are some really lame-ass special fx. But there are also some really cool ones as well. And the movie is a lot of fun and definitely entertaining, so that makes it worthwhile as well.
Overall: I always thought this movie was really lame (I think partially because I didn't see it when I was younger, and I think a lot of its creep-factor comes from the fact that it's gotta be blood-curdling to see as a child) but having given it a second chance, I was entertained. I am still not quite sure why it's a "classic" horror flick, per se, but it definitely was a fun ride.
(Check out Five Dollar Beer's Review for a second-opinion)
Labels: B movies