4.4 21
Director: Tobe Hooper

Cast: Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams, Beatrice Straight


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With Poltergeist, directed by Tobe Hopper, Steven Spielberg had his first great success as a producer. Released around the same time as Spielberg's E.T., the film presents the dark side of Spielberg's California suburban track homes. The film centers on the Freeling family, a typical middle class family living in the peaceful Cuesta Verde Estates. The father,…  See more details below


With Poltergeist, directed by Tobe Hopper, Steven Spielberg had his first great success as a producer. Released around the same time as Spielberg's E.T., the film presents the dark side of Spielberg's California suburban track homes. The film centers on the Freeling family, a typical middle class family living in the peaceful Cuesta Verde Estates. The father, Steve (Craig T. Nelson), has fallen asleep in front of the television, and the dog saunters around the house revealing the other family members -- Steve's wife Diane (JoBeth Williams), sixteen-year-old daughter Dana (Dominique Dunne), eight-year-old son Robbie (Oliver Robins), and five-year-old Carol Ann (Heather O'Rourke). Soon strange things begin to happen around the house; the pet canary dies, mysterious storms occur, and Carol Ann is summoned to the TV set, where a strange shaft of green light hits her and causes the room to shake ("They're he-e-ere!"). As curious events continue, Carol Ann is repeatedly drawn to the television, where she begins to talk to "the TV people." Soon Carol Ann is sucked into a closet, disappearing from this reality plane. Unable to find his daughter, Steve consults Dr. Lesh (Beatrice Straight), a para-psychologist from a nearby college. Lesh finds that paranormal phenomena is so strong in the Freelong household she is unable to deal with it and sends for clairvoyant and professional exorcist Tangina (Zelda Rubinstein) to examine the house in hopes of finding Carol Ann. Tangina makes a horrifying discovery: Carol Ann is alive and in the house, but is being held on another spectral plane.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Jason Bergenfeld
At a time when horror films focused on a rogues' gallery of masked slashers, Steven Spielberg took the road less traveled with Poltergeist, a classic haunted house tale set amid cookie-cutter homes and under picturesque suburban skies. The film follows the Freeling family's inevitable crumbling as an unearthly force transforms their home into a house of horrors, culminating with the disappearance of five-year-old Carol Anne (Heather O'Rourke, who passed away upon completion of Poltergeist III). Spielberg's original script blends terror with comic relief, and the mind-blowing special effects of George Lucas's Industrial Light and Magic help make the film more than a mere two hours of things going bump in the night. Spielberg even recruited The Texas Chainsaw Massacre's Tobe Hooper to direct a cast of actors then unknown, including Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams. Upon opening in theaters, Poltergeist quickly became a cultural phenomenon, as the sight and sound of television static took on a whole new meaning and little Carol Anne's cry, "They're here!" became the catchphrase for 1982 and beyond.
All Movie Guide
Though directed by Tobe Hooper, Poltergeist is most often thought of as a Steven Spielberg movie, with all of the hallmarks of a Spielberg film: impressive effects, snappy pacing, and a child-like sense of wonder and horror. At the time, the director was juggling the haunted-house project with the more personal E.T., and cult horror director Hooper was called in to helm. Legend has it that Spielberg had his fingers in just about every decision, and even directed some of the scenes himself, leaving the job's technical aspects to Hooper. Spielberg would eventually be credited as co-producer and co-screenwriter. Poltergeist is clearly more akin to Spielberg's E.T. or Close Encounters of the Third Kind than to Hooper's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Eaten Alive. It's a very engaging film, thanks to Jo Beth Williams's solid performance and the slick, chilling effects by Industrial Light and Magic.

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Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Warner Home Video
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Sales rank:

Special Features

They Are Here: The Real World of Poltergeists Revealed; Documentary in 2 Parts: Science of the Spirits and Communing with the Dead

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Craig T. Nelson Steve
JoBeth Williams Diane
Beatrice Straight Dr. Lesh
Dominique Dunne Dana
Oliver Robins Robbie
Heather O'Rourke Carol Anne
Zelda Rubinstein Tangina
Martin Casella Marty
Richard Lawson Ryan
Michael McManus Tuthill
Virginia Kiser Mrs. Tuthill
James Karen Teague
Jane Feinberg Actor
Mike Fenton Actor
Clair E. Leucart Actor
Jeff Bannister Actor
Lou Perry Pugsley
Dirk Blocker Jeff Shaw
Allan Graf Neighbor
Joseph Walsh Neighbor
Noel Conlon Husband
Robert Broyles Pool Worker #1
Sonny Landham Pool Worker #2
William Vail Implosion Man
Philip Stone Football Announcer

Technical Credits
Tobe Hooper Director
Richard Edlund Special Effects Supervisor
Jane Feinberg Casting
Mike Fenton Casting
Cindy Folkerson Stunts
Donna Garrett Stunts
Jerry Goldsmith Score Composer
Michael Grais Screenwriter
Bruce Green Editor
Edward S. Haworth Production Designer
Bob Herron Stunts
Dennis E. Jones Production Manager
Michael Kahn Editor
Cheryal Kearney Set Decoration/Design
Pat Kehoe Asst. Director
Kathleen Kennedy Associate Producer
Ann Lambert Costumes/Costume Designer
Matthew Leonetti Cinematographer
Marci Liroff Casting
Frank Marshall Producer
Steve Maslow Sound/Sound Designer
L.J. Mower Costumes/Costume Designer
Dorothy Pearl Makeup
Craig Reardon Makeup Special Effects
Art Rochester Sound/Sound Designer
Felix Silla Stunts
James Spencer Production Designer
Steven Spielberg Original Story,Producer,Screenwriter
Mark Victor Screenwriter
Chuck Waters Stunts
George Wilbur Stunts
Bob Yerkes Stunts

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Poltergeist 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
Steve_Freeling More than 1 year ago
One of the big events of my childhood was seeing Poltergeist for the first time at 7 years old. I saw it on a 4:3 set on a very old DVD in my parents' bedroom, after my mom had recently come home from the hospital after surgery. One night, my dad came home from the library with some DVDs, and one of them was Poltergeist. I popped it into the DVD player without hesitation because I'd wanted to see it since I was 5. I knew from the moment it started, Poltergeist was going to be a great movie, but little did I know it would become my favorite movie of all time, and I'd want to experience it again and again. Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams star in this classic as Steve and Diane Freeling, who live with their three children, 16-year-old Dana (Dominique Dunne), 8-year-old Robbie (Oliver Robins), and 5-year-old Carol Anne (Heather O'Rourke) in Cuesta Verde, CA, soon learn that their home is haunted, and also that the spirits talk to Carol Anne through their television. Everything seems normal at first. Dana gives construction workers the finger and talks on the phone later than she's supposed to, Robbie is a huge Star Wars fan, and Carol Anne feeds her goldfish an entire tube of food. One night, a tree tries to eat Robbie, but they quickly save him. When the ghosts kidnap Carol Anne through the closet, they are forced to fight the evil spirit that holds their daughter if they ever want to see her again. Well-acted, well-written, and well-directed, with great special effects, Poltergeist is the greatest ghost story put on film. Let's start with the acting. The performances are top-notch. The way lines are said, the facial expressions, body language, everything about the characters feels real. Craig T. Nelson plays Steve, a husband and father who's willing to do anything to save his family, so realistically, nothing about it feels fake. JoBeth Williams plays Diane, a distraught mother, so realistically, you'll believe what's happening on screen is hurting her. Heather O'Rourke gives the best performance by a 5-year-old ever. Zelda Rubinstein is also great. It doesn't even seem like they're acting. The special effects still hold up, because they still look real. The plot is still very original, because it's set in modern suburban America, and it's about a normal family that loves each other, rather than an abusive husband and father. Poltergeist is so well-written that nobody has to die, nor does it have to be gory to keep us on the edge of our seats. Spielberg and Hooper keep it subtle by hardly showing the ghosts. Poltergeist features a great plot, great acting, great directing, and great writing. I can't recommend Poltergeist enough. Poltergeist is a kid's movie, so it's not all that scary, though there are scenes that may scare you or creep you out, but you won't be scarred for life. In the end it really is a fun thrill ride. Poltergeist is a movie every kid must see by the time they're 8 years old. For some reason, I find myself trying, sometimes unsuccessfully, to hold back tears every time I see it. Poltergeist is my favorite movie of all time, it is a timeless classic, and it still holds up after over 30 years because it remains a thrilling, touching, and heartwarming movie experience. Poltergeist tells the story of a family nothing can tear apart. It's a classic good versus evil story, a story of perseverance in spite of your worst fears coming to light, and holding it together in spite of everything seeming to fall apart. It's about never giving up hope. When I watched Craig T. Nelson, I saw my dad on that screen, and I see him on that screen even more now. When I watched JoBeth Williams, I saw my mom on that screen, and I see her on that screen even more now. I know you're probably worried because of things you've read online about it being scary, gory, or boring, but don't be. Gory? Never. Scary? Not at all. Boring? Don't make me laugh. Despite everything that happens, there's a sense of hope, a warmth, that stays the entire movie, and honestly, I think that's what keeps us coming back. Let your kids see it. They'll thank you.
AlchemystAZ More than 1 year ago
After seeing this one years ago, my kids had to be told it was actually fake and called POULTERPUPPY. They slept soundly. If you want to understand it better, watch the DEXTER's LAB program episode FILET OF SOUL, almost the funniest homage and satire ever done as a cartoon.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Even though this was directd by Tobe Hooper it is still in my mind a Steven Spielberg film. It is great scary stuff and the Speicial effects are wonderful.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this is for sure one of my faviorte horror movies of all time/the effects in it are great. i have seen it on cable in the past back in 1983 or 1984/ and i also got the dvd and it looks and sound better/ almsost 2 hours of fearful and scarry excitment.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was Tobe Hooper's best film since Texas Chainsaw Massacre. A great movie about well...a poltergeist. Who would of thought.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I can tell you that this movie is creepy!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
okay so the Poltergeist is not so much of a scary movie i mean the little girl gets stuck into the tv her mom cries out stay away from the light! its a pretty freaky movie but not so sacry i guess kids should stay away from there tv sets LoL Just kidding!
The_Last_Troubadour More than 1 year ago
poltergeist is quite the genuine horror thriller. it pulls u inside its devious mind like the little girl being sucked into the white noise of the television portal. the characters are believable & the suspence hits u stone cold like a heavyweight boxer's right jab. poltergeist is certainly one of the most influential supernatural movies of its generation. if u are a believer like me, the storyline weaves & winds from a subtle to extreme haunting. this is not some hokey, artificial flick that serves as popcorn entertainment. u will be as scared from the moment imagination serves as your guide to the climax. wasn't there a sequel tainted by tragedy? yes that's right. don't mess with the spirit world. poltergeist is well written as well as a real scare. today's horror movies are more gory & apply violence as the main tool of shock therapy. the 80's had alot of substance, style, & originality as well as bad hair daze. luckily, this movie adds to the zeitgeist effect of that decade without the kitsch & soft cheese. anyhow, go return to this movie. you will remember it well. besides, who says there's no such thing as ghosts? maybe u need some sensitivity training. poltergeist will shake your norms & rattle your soul.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
''Poltergeist'' is my favorite horror film for a number of reasons. One is the acting. The parents are excellently protrayed, and the children are not annoying. 5-year-old Heather O'Rourke is really so beautiful and sweet that I wish she were my own child. This film is also very scary because it taps into many parents' worst fear: losing a child. It's quite intense for a PG rating [no PG-13 rating existed in 1982]. Steven Spielberg sure knows how to make an intense, emotional experience of a movie, and ''Poltergeist'' is just that.