Craig T. Nelson as Steve Freeling
JoBeth Williams as Diane Freeling
Heather O’Rourke as Carol Anne Freeling
Zelda Rubenstein as Tangina
(Kind of) directed by Tobe Hooper (with an uncredited assist by Steven Spielberg)
Synopsis: the Freeling family lives in a nice, new development in California. Beautiful house, lovely yard being prepped for a swimming pool. Steve likes to stay up late watching TV and usually leaves it on past sign-off. That’s when the “TV people” chat with Carol Anne and invite themselves into the house. At first they’re fun, but eventually things get a little crazy. The beginning of the supernatural horror genre (at least for me).
Holy CRAP is this movie fun! I’d totally forgotten about it from the last time I saw it, about 10 years ago-ish. It’s very innocent in its creepiness, probably because the main character is 6 years old, and the score helps to underline that fact. The effects are very hokey, but for 1982, they were pretty amazing; they almost stand up to the test of time. What was awesome, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you:
• The kitchen creep show. Paranormal Activities 2 and 3 make sense now…I see where they got the idea. The best is that JoBeth Williams absolutely LOVES what happens; she even puts a football helmet on her kid for safety purposes so the spirits can drag Carol Anne around too! Crazy lady.
• The last 15 minutes of the movie. So cool. Love the swimming pool…hate that the bodies were real. I’d have sued.
• Zelda Rubenstein. Ohmygoodness is she fabulous! Incredible voice, but she can really mean business when it comes down to it.
• The “Poltergeist curse”. Not sure if I believe it, but crazy stuff happened to people associated with this movie franchise. People DIED. I remember having a magazine that featured Heather O’Rourke prior to her death. Seemed strange that a little girl would die after being in a scary movie…but her older sister on screen died and is buried in the same cemetery…creeptastic!
A really enjoyable movie. One of the first scenes features the parents smoking pot in bed while one of their kiddos has a panic attack about the tree outside his window. Sign o’ the times…Hey, that was in Paranormal 3 as well! Uh oh…might have to re-review that one.
Scream Meter: 1/10 Not really scary, just creepy. The effects do their job. Ectoplasm is gross.
Man Meter: 4/10 That whole “I’m a guy so I don’t get scared at scary movies…just try me” ego thing might come into play. Craig T. Nelson’s pretty cool too.
Overall Rating: 6/10 There are definitely better scary movies, but this one is kinda special…and the second one is WAY creepier. At least an 8.