Poltergeist (1982)



Critic Consensus: Smartly filmed, tightly scripted, and -- most importantly -- consistently frightening, Poltergeist is a modern horror classic.

Movie Info

With Poltergeist, directed by Tobe Hopper, Steven Spielberg had his first great success as a producer. Released around the same time as Spielberg's E.T., the film presents the dark side of Spielberg's California suburban track homes. The film centers on the Freeling family, a typical middle class family living in the peaceful Cuesta Verde Estates. The father, Steve (Craig T. Nelson), has fallen asleep in front of the television, and the dog saunters around the house revealing the other family … More

Rating: PG (adult situations/language, violence)
Genre: Horror
Directed By:
Written By: Mark Victor, Michael Grais, Steven Spielberg
In Theaters:
On DVD: Apr 18, 2000
MGM Home Entertainment


as Diane Freeling

as Steve Freeling

as Dana Freeling

as Robbie Freeling

as Carol Anne Freeling

as Tangina Barrons

as Mrs. Tuthill

as Teague

as Pugsley

as Bulldozer Driver

as Jeff Shaw

as Woman Buyer

as Husband

as Pool Worker No. 1

as Neighbor

as Pool Worker No. 2

as Implosion Man

as Implosion Man

as Implosion Man

as Football Announcer

as Football Announcer
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Poltergeist

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Critic Reviews for Poltergeist

All Critics (56) | Top Critics (6)

The film delivers honest special-effects shocks without forfeiting its good nature.

Full Review… | June 1, 2011
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

Given the talents, Poltergeist is an annoying film because it could have been so much better.

Full Review… | September 25, 2007
Top Critic

Though the shocks are well conveyed, it's the sweetness that lingers, making this the first cute and cuddly entry in the genre.

Full Review… | September 25, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

It is consistently redeemed by its creator's dazzling sense of craft.

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

One of the 1980s' most distinctive and important horror movies.

Full Review… | October 25, 2014
Antagony & Ecstasy

The buildup is slow and deliberate, creating a vivid sense of love and warmth within the family who share the harrowing adventure.

Full Review… | October 7, 2014
Christian Science Monitor

Audience Reviews for Poltergeist

Poltergeist represents horror at it's top form in the early 80's. It's not the best horror movie out there, but it definitely deserves it's high praise. Relying on the cast and practical effects to drive this ridiculous story, "Poltergeist" becomes far more impressive than it should be. I loved Poltergeist almost to the point that it has become one of my favourite horror films, however, I am not too much of a fan of how off-the-rails it goes towards the end of the film. I liked leaving everything to my imagination. I jumped, felt the pain, and I was scared for the parents in this film. Every good element that a horror film should have is present here. With a great cast, a lovable and insane premise, everything about this film just feels right, as far as this genre goes. "Poltergeist" is one hell of a thrilling horror flick that I can watch anytime. Highly recommended to the horror junkies.

KJ Proulx
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

When researching Horror films, you will undoubtedly come across, "Poltergeist". You'll also notice that the film is often showered with adulation. I have no idea why. The attraction to this movie has always been lost on me. I didn't think it was scary when I was a kid, and after a recent viewing, I still can't establish a connection to the film. If anything, the recent screening caused me to dislike "Poltergeist" even more. The film's biggest weakness, is that all of the scares are derived through special effects. For me, this style always comes up lame. Although state-of-the-art at the time, 30 years certainly hasn't done the effects any favors. There isn't any tension or atmosphere to make the viewer uncomfortable, so once the special effects are rendered useless, all you're left with is annoying characters and poor acting. Speaking of the acting, it may unintentionally, be the most horrific part of the whole spectacle. What also makes "Poltergeist" suffer, is the fact that the film seems very impressed with itself. That's actually common in Spielberg movies, so it's not a surprise here. It also carries a constant hint of optimism, that ends up detracting from the horror. "Poltergeist" is corny nonsense. It might beat today's paranormal efforts, but that doesn't say much.

Jason Calvin
Jason Calvin

Super Reviewer


A suburban home is invaded by an evil presence which befriends the family's young daughter and draws her into its spirit realm. Although Tobe Hooper is credited as director of Poltergeist, producer Steven Spielberg's fingerprints are all over it. Hooper's pedigree within the cult horror fraternity as creator of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is combined with Spielberg's consummate skill as entertainer to create a hybrid that contains many of the horror standards including living trees, evil clowns, self mutilation and corpses aplenty but maintains its mainstream crowd-pleasing sensibilities. It shares a lot of ingredients with Close Encounters Of The Third Kind but this snap shot of likeable suburban America is disturbed by something far less benevolent. The special effects have actually dated surprisingly well considering and there are some great moments, particularly the disturbing kitchen scene and a great finale when coffins literally start erupting out of the ground. Kind of like Jaws for ghosts, Poltergeist is warm and funny plus creepy and chilling when it means to be and succeeds at everything it sets out to do. One of the classic family-orientated horror films.

xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

Poltergeist Quotes

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