A Family in a newly-built California housing estate is terrorized by strange goings-on in this early-80s classic horror film.
Directed by Tobe Hooper and produced by Steven Spielberg — although if the rumours are true, Spielberg had a lot more to do with it than just producing.
It’s one of those classic horror films that has eluded me till now. Now, I finally got around to watching it.
When I saw the 15 certificate I knew not to expect too much by the way of graphic horror — although I was pleasantly surprised by a couple of the scenes. One in particular where a person starts to peel their own skin and flesh off.
In retrospect this is probably on the same level of horror as the face-melting-Nazis at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. However, given the horror context that this scene was in, felt more graphic to me. Which was good.
The visual effects were great — of course they are of their time, but to my eyes they still do the job really well. Give me physical effects over digital any day of the week. The creature effects in particular were really cool.
So too were the set-piece effects. Like when one of the family ends up being dragged up the wall and across the ceiling. All done before the use of digital effects too. I found myself trying to work out how it was done, which I think I’m correct in imagining. The end result is as stunning as no doubt it was back in 1982.
I remember one shot in particular that I loved — and it was one of the calmer moments of the film. It was just the boy of the family sitting up in a tree, looking out as storm clouds approached the neighborhood.
It made me think back to the matte painting backdrop at the end of The Terminator, as Sarah Connor is driving out towards the mountains in her jeep.
I’m gonna show my age here, but its shots like that that make me think that they just don’t make ’em like that anymore. These older films just feel so much more tangible; so much more closer than their modern polished equivalents.
While watching this, I remember getting vague reminiscent feelings of Videodrome, for the obvious reasons of the TV being the catalyst for the horror that follows. And then later I got feelings of the film Don’t Look Now — specifically remembering the odd sisters from that film, when the para-psychology crew and Tangina turn up later on.
I would definitely recommend Poltergeist for any horror fans.