Saturday, September 08, 2012


When you watch a film that you've seen many times, sometimes the memories come flooding back regarding when and where it was seen first. Such was the case a few weeks ago as I re-watched one of my favorite films from my childhood in the ghost-horror film Poltergeist. I've seen it numerous times, but this was the first time in a theatre since I saw it with my cousin Andi when it came out at a multiplex in Muskogee, Oklahoma. In 1982,  I was 13, she was 14 and many times during the film I felt the grip of her hand clawing into my arm as she was terrified at what was happening on the screen. While I wasn't hanging on for dear life, the movie unleashed a torrent of inner fear that I would hold to for years.

For example, there's no way I would ever stand for a television to be on and full of the static that plays a key role in the picture. Every time I was faced with such a situation, I could swear that I heard the disembodied voices of the lost souls that wandered around in a vortex of the unknown, waiting to come out of the vessel of mass communication the television set provided. Misplaced souls were not welcome where ever I was and its been that way since 1982.

It's been a few years since I've seen it, but I was struck by just how creepy this film still is. Some of the early CGI '82 effects are a little unfortunate, but the actual scenes that are designed to produce chills are marvelously effective thirty years after its release. On multiple occasions I felt goosebumps on my flesh during Poltergeist. Directed by Tobe Hooper [texas Chainsaw Massacre] and co-written by Steven Spielberg, it has his fingerprints all over it with its tale of suburban dread, humor, kids in peril and mainstream pop-culture references. There is a terrific balance between family, humor, paranoia and the scary bits that just flow nicely from one scene to the next throughout the film.

The ensemble cast, led by  Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams, are all up to the task but the film is stolen by diminutive, the high-pitched voice of Zelda Rubenstein as the house's spiritual "cleaner". Rubenstein is funny, strong-willed and extremely believable as this person and adds to the level of creepiness due to her voice and personality. If you haven't seen Poltergeist in a while, check out the clip below with a four minute sequence dedicated to Rubenstein's performance. If you haven't seen the film, I would stop it at the 90 second mark so you don't have spoilers for what comes next. Rubenstein is gold in the movie and she's so wonderful, I would have liked a spin-off film of just her going around ghostbusting houses!

***If you are reading this post via e-mail, the imbedded video in this post might not work with your particular e-mail account. Click on the post title and you will be taken directly to CineRobot to view this wonderfully curated clip.***


hidden staircase said...

never saw it, ha!

Joshua Blevins Peck said...


hidden staircase said...

no...and i won't. i know that staticky tv image though...super creepy.