Poltergeist

  • Review Date: October 12, 2005
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 1982
  • Running Time: 114 minutes

Common Sense Media says

One of the all-time great haunted house movies.
  • Review Date: October 12, 2005
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 1982
  • Running Time: 114 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Despite frightening ghostly activity, the dedication the parents show to saving their children still stands out as positive.

Positive role models

The children are brave and the parents committed to saving their family.

Violence

A character rips the flesh from his face (though eventually we see that he's hallucinating). A young boy is attacked by a ghost-inhabited tree. Near-constant sense of fear and peril.

Sex
Not applicable
Language

Mild swearing.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The parents are seen smoking marijuana and are apparently regular users.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie touches on many things that are frightening to kids (and some adults), including scary shadows in the dark, monsters in the closet, and separation from family. A character rips the flesh from his face (though eventually we see he's hallucinating). A young boy is attacked by a ghost-inhabited tree. A girl is taken from her parents and held in a netherworld where she's menaced by a character it's intimated is evil. The parents are seen smoking marijuana, and are apparently regular users.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Written and produced by Steven Spielberg, POLTERGEIST is one of the all-time great haunted house stories, as a family's "perfect" suburban home becomes the target of a ghostly invasion. Steven and Diane Freeling and their three children are happy in their new home in a California housing development built by the company Steven works for. They don't notice at first that 5-year-old daughter Carol Ann is receiving messages from voices that speak to her through empty channels on the television set. But Diane soon begins to see more physical evidence of a ghostly presence, one that moves things around the kitchen. The unseen beings grow more malevolent, inhabiting a tree that attacks son Robbie. And when they take Carol Ann away, the Freelings call in a team of experts, including a diminutive psychic who holds the key to the other world.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

The story of a family assaulted by ghosts is still compelling. Well-written characters played by a strong cast make up for once top-of-the-line special effects that now look a bit cheesy. Kids raised on movies of the '90s, with their seemingly limitless digital effects, probably won't be too terrified by the ghosties on display here, which look dated by comparison.

But the most frightening parts of the movie arise from our empathy with the characters. Everyone in the family is sympathetic, likable and believable, which helps involve us emotionally in the movie. And the film doesn't abuse the fact that we've come to care about them: We're scared at the ordeal they face, but they all come through OK, saved by their love for one another.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what makes this movie so scary. Are the effects, the ghosts and other things that you see, that are so frightening? Or is the situations?

  • Did you identify with the little girl who was taken away? What about the little boy attacked by a tree?

  • Did this movie make you think of the times when you were little that you thought there were monsters in the closet or under the bed?

  • Why do people like watching movies that frighten them?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 4, 1982
DVD release date:January 25, 2000
Cast:Cindy Williams, Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams
Director:Andrew Adamson
Studio:Warner Bros.
Genre:Horror
Topics:Monsters, ghosts, and vampires
Run time:114 minutes
MPAA rating:PG

This review of Poltergeist was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Written byAnonymous March 13, 2012
AGE
11
QUALITY
 

Good "starter" horror with a theme of family courage and loyalty

Moral: nothing is more important than family love and family loyalty. The family is realistic and imperfect, yet they fight fiercely to keep their family together. The parents are seen smoking pot, which may be considered an illicit drug by some families and no big deal by others. Tweens will definitely know what pot looks like so be prepared to talk about it. As a magic-using family, I appreciate how the heroes use positive paranormal skills to help resolve the conflict (as opposed to assuming that ALL spiritualism and paranormal skills are evil.) Good "beginner" scares, a happy ending - and no one dies! I find the lack of death VERY important, as we can talk about what each character learned and what they may do with their lives after the events are over. Parents can reassure kids that just like the parents in the movie, we will always courageously protect our children. My two girls (10 and 12) enjoyed it and wanted to watch it again the very next night. However I imagine that anyone over the age of 14 would probably find it old-fashioned. Scary movies are just so much more shocking and fast-paced nowadays.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 15 years old Written byTheSuperman765 April 17, 2011
AGE
10
QUALITY
 

second to best horror movie ever, frst is insidious and paranormal activity

this movie touches on many things that are frightening to kids (and some adults), including scary shadows in the dark, monsters in the closet, and separation from family. A character rips the flesh from his face (though eventually we see he's hallucinating). A young boy is attacked by a ghost-inhabited tree. A girl is taken from her parents and held in a netherworld where she's menaced by a character it's intimated is evil. The parents are seen smoking marijuana, and are apparently regular users.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Kid, 12 years old March 7, 2010
AGE
9
QUALITY
 

Ok

People say this is "scary" but in my opinion, not at all. sure maybe for younger kids, but to tell u the truth, it really isnt. most special affects r cheesy, but i hav 2 say its an inbetween ok & pretty good movie.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 12 years old March 8, 2010
AGE
10
QUALITY
 

ok movie but brillent acting by Heather

This movie was ok but not really all that scary im not sure y common sense gave this 5 stars. But Heather o' Rorke definetly deserved 5 stars for her brilient acting. Heather is the girl on the cover she was born in 1975 and died in 1988 when she was 12 due to her intestintes exploding and being very sick. The movie was ok overall especailly for the time it was made in. And again great acting heather! We all miss u!
What other families should know
Too much violence

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