Poltergeist is an American classic. The 1982 story of the paranormal forces that haunt a suburban family is a collaboration between two of the most famous horror filmmakers, director Tobe Hooper and producer / writer Steven Spielberg. Forty years after its premiere, the film has permeated our culture and has become one of the main haunted fairy tales in cinematic history. Although we often remember him for the ominous phrase “He’s here…”, his evil clown and his creepy conclusion, Poltergeist is a movie full of strong female characters.
Three women, Diane Freeling (JoBeth Williams), Dr. Wool (Beatrice Straight), and Tagina (Zelda Rubinstein) join forces to save Carol Anne’s youngest daughter (Heather O’Rourke), who is trapped in a kingdom between the living and the dead. But the title of the film is slightly misleading. While poltergeist activity terrorizes the Freeling family, they are also haunted by a malicious force known as The Beast, whose power stems from the foundation of greed and insidious corruption.
Stephanos (Craig T. Nelson) and Diane Freeling live the American dream. They have a beautiful home in a rising new suburb they share with their three happy children, Dana (Dominique Dunne), Robbie (Oliver Robbins), and Carol Anne. Steve is a successful real estate salesman responsible for filling half the homes in the neighborhood and celebrating his accomplishments by installing a backyard pool. After a series of storms, Freeling’s house is invaded by naughty spirits who pull Carol Anne into an alternative dimension through a gate in her bedroom closet. Although still alive, it can only communicate through open channels on television. Steve enlists the help of Dr. Lesh, who brings her team to study paranormal phenomena. With scientific tools and recording technology, they discover a multitude of ghosts trapped inside the house. Dr. Lesh in turn seeks help from a powerful medium called Tangina, who guides them in freeing Carol Anne from the demonic figure hiding inside the house.
Diane and Carol Anne Freeling are the first to embrace the supernatural. In the first moments of the film, Carol Ann falls asleep downstairs and begins to speak with invisible spirits who will come to call the television people through the static of an open channel. Diane first meets the spirits through her dining room chairs. Mysteriously pulled from the table, she turns her back for a moment only to find them skillfully stacked on top of the table when she returns. Later that night, Diane is excited to tell Steve about the paranormal patterns she has found. He practically drags him from the street on a path that has been marked on the kitchen floor from which the spirits pull objects. She and Carol Anne have even experimented with traveling the trail. Diane seems to be thriving as the disorders progress, practically shining in contact with the spiritual energy. Even when she is desperate to find her missing daughter, she accepts the metaphysical kingdom with a miracle and the charm lost by her skeptical husband.
Steve is terrified of what is happening in his house. He sits on the floor in shocked silence as Diane explains that he is being pulled by invisible hands and quickly grabs his daughter as she is projected onto the tiles. Seeking to control the unexplained, he forbids anyone to enter the room until he learns what is happening. Seconds later, the tree outside Robbie’s window pops up and drags the child out, the spirits seem to mock his attempts to control their activity. As the story unfolds, Steve’s appearance worsens. His eyes have black rings, his smoking increases and he avoids telling his boss that he has the flu, a lie that is fully supported by his sloppy appearance. Struggling to stay in control, he is resistant to paranormal activity and is reluctant to accept Tangina’s advice. He is emotionally withdrawn from his family and seems to wear out more with each passing event.
Feeling helpless, Steve approaches Dr. Lesh, a psychologist who studies paranormal phenomena as a hobby. She calls herself irresponsible for this devotion, but it is the bridge between spiritual and scientific. The bond he creates with Diane Freeling is necessary to save Carol Anne. Ryan Technicians (Richard Lawson) and Marty (Martin Casella) makes up its team. It’s an inspiring female leadership system that will be repeated throughout the horror, especially by Lin Shaye in Sneaky privilege. After observing the shocking level of poltergeist activity at Freeling, Dr. Lesh explains the difference between this type of disorder and a traditional gambling. Poltergeist activity is usually associated with a living person, in this case Carol Anne, while a haunted person revolves around a specific place. As the story unfolds, both types of turmoil will mix and endanger the entire Freeling family.
As soon as Dr. Lesh realizes the unprecedented extent of paranormal activity, and after Marty receives a nasty sting while trying to get into the closet, he brings outside help. Tangina is a powerful and insightful tool, able to sense the activity in the alternative dimension and locate Carol Anne in the house. He explains that spirits are confused by the strong vital force of the child. Born at home, Carol Anne exudes a light similar to the one they must pass through to reach the next dimension. They are attracted to her, but also frustrated and angry in their confusion. Although they cause pain and destruction, it is simply the unhappy spirits of people trying to understand the new state of their existence. Tangina also identifies the existence of another being, the Beast, a malicious force that feeds on this chaos and holds Carol Anne captive. It is the element associated with the home, taking advantage of the poltergeist activity that the child is attracted to.
Tangina’s plan involves entering the closet door to find Carol Anne coming out with the child through a separate door on the living room ceiling. Diane ties a rope around her waist and enters the gate with Steve holding the other end and vowing to never leave her. In the midst of this search and rescue mission, Tangina begins to summon the spirits that haunt the house, bringing them to light. Her plan is to “clean” the house by helping them move on to the afterlife, while Diane finds Carol Although he brings her back outside. But Steve panics and starts pulling the rope, urging the Beast to retaliate. A giant skull roars through the closet door causing Steve to fall off the rope in terror. Fortunately, Dr. Lesh and Ryan hold the other end in the living room. They pull Diane through the exit gate holding Carol Ann in her arms.
Tangina leaves the reunited parents with their child and proudly declares that the house is now clean. This has long been an apple of contention among many viewers who point out that because of the film’s scary conclusion, Freeling’s house is anything but. Days later, the Beast reappears. On their last night at home, a new fleshy gate appears in the closet and tries to suck Robbie and Carol An. Spectral monsters torment Diana and try to stop her from saving her children. As it falls into the muddy backyard pool, decaying corpses begin to emerge from the ground. It turns out that the housing development company, Steve’s employers, moved a cemetery to build the new neighborhood. Hoping to save money, they moved the tombstones, but not the bodies lying below. The corpses are the earthly remains of the people of television, who can not move on from the busy life that disturbs their last rest. Their caskets protrude through the floorboards of the house, their skeletons spilling out into Diane’s escape path.
This is the work of the Beast and the source of the bet. Tangina has cleansed the house of the spirits that cause the poltergeist upheaval, but their bodies remain. Maybe this corruption was what the Beast was pulling all this time. Without knowing the former location of the cemetery, Tangina can not be held responsible for the greedy actions of the company. Steve is actually the face of this corruption. Although he did not know the corpses when he took his family home, this indifference to the transition between life and death is in line with his efforts to control paranormal phenomena. While Diane Freeling is at the door of the closet looking for Carol Anne, Tangina reminds Steve not to pull until she gives him the signal. In a moment of panic, she ignores her instructions so the Beast shows his face. Maybe if he had followed the plan, Tangina would have defeated the Monster as well as the restless spirits. But nothing Tangina does in the house can change the fact of its awful foundations. The source of corruption is under its floors, not inside its walls.
A funeral for the Tweety family pet bird in the first scenes foretells the horrible end of the movie. Diane Freeling plans to rinse the tiny body, but Carol Anne demands more respect. She asks her mother to do a funeral for Tweety, placing his body in a cigar box along with a family photo and amenities for his journey to the afterlife. The women of the family, Dana, Diane and Carole Anne, bury him in the backyard garden, while Robbie climbs a tree and Steve fights with his neighbor over control of the TV. Subsequent scenes show the box being disturbed by the construction of a swimming pool, a giant excavator tearing it from its landfill. Tweety’s remnant of earthly relics is a microcosm of Freelings’ different approaches to life and death throughout the film. Sensitive Carol Anne is attracted to spirits while Robbie wants to stay away. Steve is unaware of what is happening in his house, while Diane comforts her grieving child. They are his wives Poltergeist who are the true heroes of the story. Embracing the spirituality and mysteries of what lies beyond, they are able to overcome the monster they control and save the next generation of the living.