As the spirit of Halloween creeps upon us, we would be remiss not to mention a few of the terrifying classics which dominated our twisted hearts and left many a whimpering, quivering jellyfish in their wake while still managing to be fairly accessible to younger members of household clans everywhere. While parents should use their own judgment surrounding whether or not they feel their offspring are ready for such an entertaining endeavor, here’s the first in a series of demonic films that can keep your little meatlings twisting (and squirming) the night away. First up in the Scary Family Movies series is Tobe Hooper’s ever-popular Poltergeist.
Poltergeist – Why I Like It
What’s not to like? A supernatural horror film that proved itself to be cutting edge in many different ways, it was among the first widely publicized horror films which featured a strong, stable family at its center, set against the horrifying backdrop of suburbia (although, this time, suburbia is horrifying in a supernatural way). Indeed, part of the terror of Poltergeist rests in its setting – for far too long, the suburbs were considered sanctuaries to flee to in the midst of a crazy world where nothing made sense. The suburban household had been fairly synonymous with a safe-haven, which is one of the big reasons that Poltergeist is so effective. The supernatural forces literally assault a family and invade their home, and it’s only later that we realize that the Freeling family, and others like them, are the true and unwitting trespassers – as the entire development was built on a disregarded gravesite.
Why Some Kids Will Like Poltergeist
The film is full of childlike humor and fascination as the Freeling family first realizes that there is a supernatural presence in their home – the kids and the entire family are easy to relate to. The love that the family displays throughout the hardships and terrifying moments is something that all families, hopefully, can strive toward. With this evident love come the positive messages of hope and strength in the face of great adversity (Poltergeist was, after all, produced by the king of family fare, Steven Spielberg). It also helps that the movie has been rated PG and sparked one of the most notorious one-liners of cinematic history – “They’re here.”
Why Poltergeist Might be Too Scary for Others
Despite its family-oriented spirit, there are several scenes that might prove too much for anyone under age ten. The supernatural abduction of the Freelings’ youngest daughter, as well as an infamous scene involving a mirror, a misbehaving light bulb, and two self-mutilating hands tearing at the flesh of one’s own face are still fairly intense. And don’t think that the clown/puppet will get lost on many of the kids – there are still adults who can’t fathom a look at a demonically possessed clown, cinematic or otherwise.
The Bottom Line…
Poltergeist is a well-written classic horror movie mixed with humor, full of heart-warming characters and admirable special effects. If you deem the kiddos mature enough to handle the movie’s darker nature, then it’s time you had them sit down and cut their teeth on arguably one of the strongest suburban horror stories creeping out of the 80s and a great Halloween flick.