Another film that was ripe for a rewatching since I last watched it on VHS in the 80s was Poltergeist, the horror film directed by Steven Spielberg Tobe Hooper.


The first thing I noticed was how gorgeous the film looks in widescreen. How I, or indeed, any of us watched the film in pan and scan on video is beyond me.

It’s funny how my opinion hasn’t changed since the 80s though. The film doesn’t seem to know what genre it is. It’s part family film (and very Spielberg with it) but it also feels like a fantasy film and lastly, ironically, horror. It does all three really well but I’m here to watch a horror movie, goddammit!

Hooper scene

The horror sequences are brilliantly executed such as the face peel scene, the clown scare and the apocalyptic scene involving the tree coming to life. Also, the subtle scares such as Carol-Ann talking to the TV that is showing only static is very unsettling indeed. I always think of these as Hooper moments within the film.

Definitely a Hooper scene!

I don’t know where we’re at with the differing accounts of whether Spielberg or Hooper actually directed the majority of the film but it seems to me to be obvious that he did. If this had been primarily a Hooper project, Poltergeist would have been much darker, much scarier and would possess fewer scenes that are of a ‘horror film made for all the family’ vibe. Poltergeist, as it is, is almost unbearably Hollywood, with too much gloss and resplendent with a big bombastic film score.

But, compared to the remake that came out decades later, this original Poltergeist is Citizen Kane. I remember watching the remake in the cinema and actually thinking to myself, ‘I don’t care about a single character in this film!’ Quite a feat. In the original, I thought all of the characters were likeable. And Craig T Nelson is always easy on the eye.

Hottie Craig T Nelson

2.5 stars out of 5


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