Poltergeist [Blu-Ray] Tobe Hooper

Poltergeist [Blu-Ray] Tobe Hooper
Like most horror films in the '80s, the impetus of Poltergeist is that of the nuclear family in peril. The frisky Freelings are ex-hippies ― still enjoying the occasional joint ― living in the middle of North American suburbia, selling the dream to buyers in the middle of a booming real estate industry. Household patriarch Steve (Craig T. Nelson) is first shown asleep in front of the television while the National Anthem plays and is later seen reading a biography of Ronald Reagan. Daughter Dana (Dominique Dunne) is visibly older than her two younger siblings, Robbie (Oliver Robins) and Carol Anne (Heather O'Rourke), which indirectly fills in some unspoken family back-story about her likely unplanned free-loving conception in the late '60s. Since time is taken to establish the family unit and interaction, showing convincing breakfast table arguments, joking amongst the kids and some sincere parental interactions, such as Diane's (Jobeth Williams) handling of the death of a household pet and Steve's reassuring talk to Robbie about thunderstorms, we buy them as a real, caring family unit. With this natural interaction and thoughtful characterization in place, along with the necessary political didactics, the impending haunted house horror is that much more compelling and emotional. While there are a few peculiar character decisions ― mainly having the kids nap in their room on moving day after travelling to another dimension to save Carol Anne from the ghosts that kidnapped her within ― the supernatural interactions and practical application of terror sustain the surface visceral component. Even though some of the visual effects come off as cheesy nowadays (primarily the scene where a scientist rips off his face over a sink), this film holds up quite well and looks great on Blu-Ray. Supplemental material is limited to a terrible documentary with a bunch of schizophrenics and goths trying to convince us that ghosts really exist. (Warner)