UTG’s 31 Days Of Halloween: ‘Poltergeist’

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Of all the holidays celebrated worldwide, no single day is loved by the UTG staff more than Halloween. With October’s arrival, the time has finally come to begin rolling out a slew of features and special announcements we have prepared in celebration of our favorite day.

Now in its fourth year, 31 Days Of Halloween is a recurring feature that will run throughout the month of October. The goal of this column is to supply every UTG reader with a daily horror (or Halloween-themed) movie recommendation that is guaranteed to amplify your All Hallows’ Eve festivities. We’ll be watching every film the day it’s featured, and we hope you’ll follow along at home.

This year, the entire 31 Days series is dedicated to the memory of our friend, Justin Proper. We wouldn’t have a film department without him, and he specifically helped pioneer our involvement in the horror genre. Rest in peace, JP.

Day 31: Poltergeist (1982)

There are two types of scary movies. Ones that offer fleeting fear before quickly disappearing into the ether, and ones that stick with you for years and make you question every creaky floorboard. Poltergeist undoubtedly falls into the latter category.

Directed by Tobe Hooper and written by Steven Spielberg, Poltergeist centers on Steven and Diane Freeling (Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams) and their three children, who have recently relocated to the sprawling California suburb of Cuesta Verda. Things are looking up for the young family of five, until one night when the youngest child, Carol Anne, starts talking to the television. While this in itself would prove reason for concern, it’s just the tip of the iceberg, and before long the Freeling’s find themselves grappling with some very pissed-off ghouls who are hell-bent on tearing their quiet lives apart.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re probably saying to yourself, “But Kyle, this sounds like every other scary movie in the history of ever!” Well, you’re right, but that’s because just about every ghost story from the past three decades has taken cues from Poltergeist, so much so that the term “groundbreaking” doesn’t even begin to do this film justice. From the cutting-edge CGI, to the top-notch cinematography, to the stellar acting all around, this fantastic freakshow laid the groundwork for nearly every genre staple imaginable, and while it may seem slightly dated by today’s standards, it’s legacy is undeniable.

Overwhelming importance aside, Poltergeist has also held up incredibly well despite its age. In fact. when I sat down to write this piece, I was a little taken aback by how intense some of these scares still are. I won’t spoil the fun and rattle them off in detail, but rest assured, there are more than enough of them to keep even the most avid horror enthusiasts at the edge of their seats. Hell, if this movie scared the generation that gave us parachute pants, it’s got to be pretty damn terrifying, right?

There’s certainly no shortage of skin-crawling films out there, but with the exception of a few other gems, I’d be willing to bet that few are as charming as Poltergeist. It has the propensity to garner chills and thrills in a way that transcends time and reason, and has managed to maintain its relevance without the aid of cheap jump scares, pointless buckets of blood, and excessive nudity. Plain and simple, it’s a classic for a reason, and upon your initial viewing, I’m sure you’ll realize very quickly why.

Kyle Florence

Kyle Florence is a proud Wisconsinite, a dinosaur enthusiast, and a lover of all things weird and whacky.
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