Overview: How Poltergeist Changed Horror and Our Relationship with Technology
From its exploration of childhood fears and the afterlife to its commentary on the suburbs and technology, Poltergeist remains a horror classic that continues to resonate with audiences. This article delves into the themes of the film and its impact on the genre, from its use of television as a terror to its metaphorical exploration of birth and death.
Poltergeist is a horror classic that serves up scares with a side of suburban commentary. But it’s not just ghosts haunting the Freeling family’s new home – it’s a tangled web of buried secrets and questionable development practices.
At the heart of it all is TV – the instigator of unease in this film. It’s hard to avoid, and in Poltergeist, it’s the gateway to the afterlife. And let’s be real, who hasn’t been scared of their TV malfunctioning or feeling like it’s watching them?
The suburbs are also a co-star in this horror flick. They’re supposed to be safe and predictable, but in both Poltergeist and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, they’re a false floor hiding supernatural horrors. And let’s not forget about the greed and over-consumption that can come with suburban living, as the Freelings willingly show off with their new swimming pool and TVs everywhere.
And then there’s the burial ground. The development company relocates the headstones and leaves the bodies behind – a disrespectful move that sets the stage for the haunting of the Freelings. Carol Anne’s bright life force and the scary tree that watches them only add to the terror.
But despite all the explanations and theories, it’s the things we don’t know and can’t avoid that add to the Poltergeist’s sense of dread. And let’s be honest, we’ll never look at a TV or suburban home the same way again.
Fun fact: The film’s abrupt cut scene in the Freeling’s kitchen was supposedly due to a negative reaction by Pizza Hut. Who knew pizza could be so scary?
Yes, you read that right. Pizza Hut apparently didn’t like the idea of their food being eaten in a haunted kitchen. But who can blame them? Pizza tastes better when it’s not accompanied by ghostly whispers or poltergeists.
And let’s not forget about the family dog, Eboz, who serves as a clever camera device at the start of the film. He visits each family member while they sleep, but there’s a bit of a goof when someone walks in front of Dana’s door right before Eboz enters. Oops.
But the real scare in Poltergeist comes from the haunting itself – the playful ghosts that turn into malevolent spirits, the tornado that marks the turning point, and the repeated debates about whether or not Carol Anne should go into the light. It’s enough to make you want to avoid TV, suburbs, and burial grounds altogether.
But in the end, it’s Diane who saves the day (and Carol Anne) through a repeat birth in the bathtub. It’s a visual metaphor that peaks with the scene in the tub, and leaves us with the feeling that the suburban dream is well and truly over.
Poltergeist may be a horror classic, but it’s also a commentary on our relationship with technology, suburbia, and the afterlife. And it’s a reminder that buried secrets have a way of coming back to haunt us – quite literally. So, if you’re ever house hunting and the development company says they relocated the headstones but left the bodies, just say no. It’s not worth the haunting.
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