Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Day 7: In which Carol Anne comes to the light

"Carol Anne! Mommy's here, baby!" Yeah, that doesn't get really old, really quickly.

Whereas The Shining is a haunted house story that terrifies, Poltergeist is a haunted house story that entertains. Tobe Hooper gets the directing credit, but Spielberg's influence is obvious (he wrote the story/screenplay, was the producer, and did some of the editing). It follows the basic Spielberg pattern: introduction to the daily lives of the main characters, rise and defeat of the monster/antagonistic force, and a tidy resolution in which the family remains intact. Of course, we are treated to a good measure of awe and wonder along the way, courtesy the special effects department. [Others that follow the pattern: Jurassic Park, Jaws, War of the Worlds, E.T., etc.]

If there is only one thing to be said about Poltergeist, it's that it is definitely entertaining. Said special effects may be archaic, but they also carry a certain novelty and charm. The movie is also sufficiently chilling at times, featuring what is possibly the creepiest closet monster of all time. Social commentary is kept to a minimum (it's a real stretch to say that this film speaks to the evils of suburbanization or excessive TV watching), and there is light-hearted humor sprinkled throughout to keep things from getting too serious.

When it's all said and done, we're left with a fun, well-produced romp that stands the test of time. This is "family" horror, if there is such a thing. Way to go, Spielberg.

Tomorrow: Psycho.

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