Taglines: Some things have to be believed to be seen.
Steven and Diane Freeling live a quiet life in an Orange County, California planned community called Cuesta Verde, where Steven is a successful real estate developer and Diane looks after their children Dana, Robbie, and Carol Anne. Carol Anne awakens one night and begins conversing with the family’s television set, which is transmitting static following a sign-off. The following night, while the Freelings sleep, Carol Anne fixates on the television set as it transmits static again. Suddenly, a ghostly white hand emerges from the television, followed by a violent earthquake. As the shaking subsides, Carol Anne announces “They’re here”.
Bizarre events occur the following day: a drinking glass of milk spontaneously breaks, silverware bends and furniture moves of its own accord. The phenomena seem benign at first, but quickly begin to intensify. That night, a gnarled backyard tree comes alive and grabs Robbie through the bedroom window. While Steven rescues Robbie, Carol Anne is sucked through a portal in her closet. The Freelings realize she has been taken when they hear her voice emanating from the television set that is tuned to an empty channel.
A group of parapsychologists from UC Irvine — Dr. Lesh, Ryan, and Marty — come to the Freeling house to investigate and determine that the Freelings are experiencing a poltergeist intrusion. They discover that the disturbances involve more than just one ghost. Steven also finds out in an exchange with his boss, Lewis Teague, that Cuesta Verde is built where a cemetery was once located.
After Dana and Robbie are sent away for their safety, Lesh and Ryan call in Tangina Barrons, a spiritual medium. Tangina states that the ghosts inhabiting the house are lingering in a different “sphere of consciousness” and are not at rest. Attracted to Carol Anne’s life force, these spirits are distracted from the real “light” that has come for them. Tangina then adds that there is also a demon known as the “Beast”, who has Carol Anne under restraint in an effort to restrain the other spirits.
The assembled group discovers that the entrance to the other dimension is through the children’s bedroom closet, while the exit is through the living room ceiling. As the group attempts to rescue Carol Anne, Diane passes through the entrance tied by a rope that has been threaded through both portals. Diane manages to retrieve Carol Anne, and they both drop to the floor from the ceiling, unconscious and covered in ectoplasmic residue. As they recover, Tangina proclaims afterward that the house is now “clean”.
Poltergeist is a 1982 American supernatural horror film directed by Tobe Hooper. Steven Spielberg wrote and produced, but had a clause in his contract to prevent him from directing another movie while he made E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Therefore, Hooper was selected to direct based on his work on The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. It is the first and most successful entry in the Poltergeist film series. Set in a California suburb, the plot focuses on a family whose home is invaded by malevolent ghosts that abduct the family’s younger daughter.
Released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer on June 4, 1982, the film was a major critical and commercial success, achieving in being the eighth highest-grossing film of 1982. Years since its release, the film has been recognized as a classic within the horror genre and has gained a cult following. Aside for being nominated for three Academy Awards, the film was ranked as #80 on Bravo’s 100 Scariest Movie Moments (The ‘moment’ being the clown attack scene) and the Chicago Film Critics Association named it the 20th scariest film ever made. The film also appeared at #84 on American Film Institute’s 100 Years… 100 Thrills, a list of America’s most heart-pounding movies.
Directed by: Tobe Hooper
Starring: JoBeth Williams, Heather O’Rourke, Craig T. Nelson, Beatrice Straight, Dominique Dunne, Oliver Robins, Zelda Rubinstein
Screenplay by: Steven Spielberg, Michael Grais
Production Design by: James H. Spencer
Cinematography by: Matthew F. Leonetti
Film Editing by: Michael Kahn
Set Decoration by: Cheryal Kearney
Music by: Jerry Goldsmith
Distributed by: Metro Goldwyn Mayer, United Artists
Release Date: June 4, 1982