Poltergeist

 
(i)

 

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

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.

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

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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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Teen, 15 years old Written byTheSuperman765 April 17, 2011
 

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
 

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
Adult Written bywonder dove July 5, 2013
 

I get chills every time I watch it!!!

Best horror movie ever created! This movie is insanely good! It's fun, scary and super entertaining...never a dull moment. The effects were done really well for the 80's and the whole atmosphere of the film is really dark and eerie, which really sets the mood for a good time! Characters are likable - the parents are very protective and loving to their children. When strange things start happening around the house, little Carol Ann can hear voices coming from the TV set whom she calls "the TV people". The mother soon learns that there is some paranormal activity going on and convinces her husband that something's not right. One stormy night, when their son is taken by a possessed tree outside his bedroom window, they scram to save him while little Carol Ann is left alone in her bed when evil forces try to "get" her. She ends up missing and the family soon discovers that the poltergeists have taken her. With the help of some experts, they must all try to figure out how to get her back in one piece. Lots and lots of action, scariness and it's even a little sad & heartwarming in a spiritual sense. Some say the film is cursed because the two kid actors (Carol Ann and her big sister) died in real life after the movie was made, and strange things happened to Stephen Spielberg while filming the movie! Violence is extreme for a PG (should be PG-13 now) with scary monstrous creatures, objects moving & flying violently, people including children being terrorized, a clown attack, tree attacks a child, man rips his face off, frightening hallucinations. Language is very mild. Sexual content has grown men flirting with a teenager by whistling at her and other brief comments. Drug use includes one scene, pot is rolled and smoked by the parents (not too graphic). Okay for 14+ viewers. Fun fact: Did you know the skeletons used in this movie are real? :O
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence

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