[Movie Review] Poltergeist (1982) ★★★★★

Carol Anne talks with the tv in Poltergeist 1982

Poltergeist delivers a fantastical haunting tale for the horror fun loving family.

Poltergeist is a supernatural fantasy horror film about the Freeling family who has to deal with creepy and dangerous hauntings. Although it’s a horror film, it has a lot of fantasy elements, with great emphasis on the loving family, with a story that almost plays out as a dark fairytale. It’s a fight between good and evil where love triumphs, which makes it a good but sometimes scary watch for the whole family. 

Poltergeist has a classic eighties vibe, that shines through all the horrific events making it more playful. The endearing Freelings win you over immediately, before the special and practical effects take over, turning the film into a fun horror spectacle. 


The Freeling family, Steve, Diane and their kids Dana, Robbie and little Carol Anne move into a new development home. But soon strange things start to happen, like a chair moving all by itself over the kitchen floor, quite innocent. Unfortunately these occurrences start to take place more frequently and take a more sinister turn. 

When Carol Anne disappears and is seemingly trapped in the tv in another dimension, Diane calls in the help of a scientist and paranormal investigator, Dr. Lesh and her assistants Marty and Ryan and medium Tangina Barrons. An epic battle begins to free Carol Anne and to get rid of the evil spirits and to defeat a terrifying demonic being from another dimension.

Why you should watch it

This film radiates eighties magic and fun. The playfulness of the Freeling family, the way Steve and Diane interact with each other, smoking a joint in bed, makes it fun. But also how Diane deals with the first poltergeist activities, finding it interesting and fun, even playing with it with Carol Anne, is a joy to watch. 

The cinematography is very dynamic and playful as well, the flying objects, the moving objects and the floating bed. The practical effects and the special effects, the malicious tree, the menacing clowns doll, the skeletons in the yard, the melting face, the floating ghosts, and of course The Beast and much more are part of the eighties horror fun. 

The fantasy vibe is high as is the sentimental element without becoming too overly sentimental. It’s just sweet, loving, caring and about being brave and stand together to fight evil. Very Spielberg-like. It makes it all the more enjoyable. It doesn’t focus on the graphic horrors or gore but rather on the alluring spectacle overcoming evil. 

It’s a simple story that knows how to entice and entertain, mixing horror with fantasy and a loving family. The structure, developing from playful and fun to more sinister and threatening to an epic ending is well-crafted, and the music adds to the fantasy vibe. The hauntings are imaginative and original and brings in fun and entertainment and keeps you guessing what’s next for the Freelings, which bizarre and weird things are going to happen to them now. 

What makes this a more unconventional haunted house story, is that their house is a new development home, not an old creaky house where ghosts dwell and wait to torment the new owners. Nothing happened there yet, at least not in the house itself. The family doesn’t have problems either. They are a normal and loving family. And finally the ghosts nor The Beast are bound to the house, but to Carol Anne. These unconventional elements break some haunted house rules, making the story more interesting, but maybe also more scary; it can happen to everyone, everywhere. Even more so by using childhood fears that linger hidden in everyone of us. 

My favorite part

Tangina Barrons is a wonderful eccentric character. She steals the show and makes it all the more interesting. She’s a great addition to the story as to the family. But so is E. Buzz the dog, who’s brave and helps out where he can, and is a real part of the family. Even better, he does not die.

The poltergeist activities are the showstoppers. And there are a lot of them. The clown is a great example of childlike fears, but the tree is a whole different piece of terror. Original and horrifying, never was a tree so evil. The vortex deriving from the ceiling and the roaring Beast are creative. And the excellent brave solution to free Carol Anne is an example of ultimate motherly love and bravery. 

But also the fun Diane and Carol Anne have on the kitchen floor is brilliantly funny. In short, everything is just great about this film. It’s the ultimate fantasy horror film, very watchable with the whole family and a perfect gateway horror. The eighties vibe makes it even more fun and engaging, resulting in a classic fantastic fantasy must see horror.


Rating: ★★★★★

Epic factor: ★★★★☆

Scare factor: ★★★☆☆

Entertainment factor: ★★★★★

Cast and crew

Poltergeist is directed by Tobe Hooper and written by Steven Spielberg. It stars Craig T. Nelson (Steve), JoBeth Williams (Diane), Heather O’Rourke (Carol Anne), Dominique Dunne (Dana), Oliver Robins (Robbie), Zelda Rubinstein (Tangina Barrons), Beatrice Straight (Dr. Lesh), Martin Casella (Marty) and Richard Lawson (Ryan).

Duration: 114 minutes. Music by: Jerry Goldsmith. Cinematography: Matthew F. Leonetti. Edited by: Michael Kahn. Produced by: Frank Marshall, Steven Spielberg. Production company: SLM Production Group, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Distributed by: MGM/UA Entertainment Co.

Check the trailer below

Support BHG:


Dear reader, you can support me by making a small donation to let BigHorrorGuide grow and make more content and to keep the site ad-free. Your contribution will be very much appreciated!

Dear reader, you can support me by making a small donation to let BigHorrorGuide grow and make more content and to keep the site ad-free. Your contribution will be very much appreciated!

Dear reader, you can support me by making a small donation to let BigHorrorGuide grow and make more content and to keep the site ad-free. Your contribution will be very much appreciated!

Choose an amount


Or enter a custom amount


Thank you so much

Thank you so much

Thank you so much

DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly