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Poltergeist (1982)



Average Rating: 7.3/10
Reviews Counted: 55
Fresh: 48 | Rotten: 7

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


Average Rating: 6.6/10
Critic Reviews: 6
Fresh: 5 | Rotten: 1

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



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Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 179,534

My Rating

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



Michael Grais, Mark Victor, Steven Spielberg

Apr 18, 2000

MGM Home Entertainment

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Latest News on Poltergeist

March 7, 2013:
Gil Kenan Hired to Direct Poltergeist Remake
MGM taps the "Monster House" director to trap Carol Anne in the television all over again.
February 28, 2011:
Tobe Hooper Possessed by Djinn
Director Tobe Hooper is attached to helm "Djinn," about a family who must confront a nasty spirit in...


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All Critics (55) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (48) | Rotten (7) | DVD (25)

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

June 1, 2011 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

September 25, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety | Comments (10)
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

September 25, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Hooper and Spielberg hold our interest by observing the everyday rituals of this family so closely that, since the family seems real, the weird events take on a certain credibility by association.

October 23, 2004 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times | Comments (3)
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Poltergeist is like a thoroughly enjoyable nightmare, one that you know that you can always wake up from, and one in which, at the end, no one has permanently been damaged. It's also witty in a fashion that Alfred Hitchcock might have appreciated.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Hooper's direction may lack its usual edgy personality -- apparently over-ruled by Spielberg's script suggestions -- but he puts on a dazzling show, and the intuitive performances are uniformly on the panic button.

September 11, 2013 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

Hooper and Spielberg have worked long and hard to bring the ghost story to its fullest potential. They have succeeded.

September 11, 2013 Full Review Source: People Magazine
People Magazine

"Poltergeist" is a lot more dedicated to its cause than most viewers today are probably used to. It builds to something of value. That may not make it the most profound film of its genre by any stretch, but it does make it one of the most memorable.

June 29, 2013 Full Review Source:

Spielberg, here credited as producer as co-writer, shows the other (darker) side of suburbia in this horror film, made in the same year as the superior E.T.

February 19, 2013 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

Thanks to Poltergeist, more than a few of us still sleep with the lights on: the world has changed, but our closets haven't.

June 8, 2012 Full Review Source: Sci-Fi Movie Page
Sci-Fi Movie Page

A frightening, supernatural horror film that defined a generation.

August 15, 2011 Full Review Source: Cinema Sight
Cinema Sight

One of the all-time great haunted house movies.

January 2, 2011 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media | Comment (1)
Common Sense Media

...a compelling and consistently creepy piece of work...

February 18, 2010 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews
Reel Film Reviews

Spielberg clockwork: great suburbs, great special effects, great abuse of an expositive score, great overuse of the slow push-in, great hot mom, great irrelevant dad, great plucky little kids.

February 22, 2009 Full Review Source: Film Freak Central
Film Freak Central

Think of it more as a fun-ride than a horror movie.

October 11, 2008 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

Twenty-five years on, the film is still looking remarkably good %u2013 and, I'm betting sales of clown dolls have never quite recovered.

December 7, 2007 Full Review Source: Eye for Film
Eye for Film

After a quarter-century, Poltergeist remains one of the most popular movies whose reputation rests almost exclusively on behind-the-scenes diversions.

October 23, 2007 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

It's a highly effective and uncommonly emotional horror film, and in the summer of 1982, I preferred it to Spielberg's more universally admired E.T.

October 18, 2007 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid | Comments (2)
Combustible Celluloid

So darn good it makes me wish Spielberg hadn't given up on the horror genre.

October 12, 2007 Full Review Source: FEARnet

At first this takes the form of your classic poltergeist activity (moved furniture, that kind of thing), but it becomes weirder.

September 25, 2007 Full Review Source: Film4

A surprisingly yet successfully restrained lesson in how to haunt a house.

September 25, 2007 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

A vapid, silly horror movie with occasional moments of promise that ultimately fails due to an overdose of cuteness.

September 25, 2007 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide | Comments (8)
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Audience Reviews for Poltergeist

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.
June 1, 2012
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.
June 1, 2012
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

The first time I saw this was when I was about 7 years old and it scared the everlasting crap out of me. How does it hold up now that my perspective on movies is more mature? It's still incredibly frightening. The film revolves around a normal family whose house is built on a Native American burial ground and the spirits are all pissed. The haunting begins with simple stuff like chairs moving and the pet bird dying, but it's all just build up to what will be the ultimate scares. One night the daughter claims to be able to hear people talking from the TV in the parents room and the parents become increasingly concerned. (Even though nowadays they would've just put her in a straight-jacket and dragged her off to an asylum.) The daughter eventually gets sucked into her closet by the spirits and she disappears. To make things more crazy, a tree outside the house comes to life and tries to eat the son. Now the rest of the movie is focused on trying to rescue the daughter. The thing I like most about the movie is the scares are genuine. There's no jump scares or predictable cliches, it's all about the possibility of the afterlife and the evil side it has. The atmosphere and mood of the movie is really well done too. The setting feels realistic enough and when the characters are in trouble, you actually feel the intensity, confusion and fright behind what is happening. One particular scene that is going to stay etched in my brain is the scene with clown. The son has a really creepy toy clown sitting at the end of his bed and all it does it stares. The kid puts a shirt over it, but I would've taken a more drastic decision. I'd take it, break into a house and plant it in a random kids room. That clown is his problem now, if I don't have to deal with it staring at me, then I'm fine if the other kid has sleepless nights. Well the clown comes to life and attacks the kid. It is still a really scary scene. To start, we've all had to deal with a scary looking toy we don't like at least once in our life. For me, it was a Chucky doll my dad bought to mess with me when I was 9. (Things didn't improve when he put it in my bed when I was sleeping and I had to wake up to it staring at me.) Another thing scary about the scene is the tension. We don't immediately see the clown come to life, we just see it has moved from where it usually sits. We know the clown is alive and somewhere in the room, and the suspense is just perfect. Another terrifying scene is when one guy is looking in the mirror and he starts to tear apart his face. It may have looked really good back then, but now it looks fake. Still, you have to appreciate the special effects guy for not relying on CGI for the scene. Most horror movies today overuse CGI and try to make it look scary, when really it just sucks. Puppetry and animatronics are the way to go. This will be remembered as one of the scariest movies of all time, it's also influential for pop culture and other horror movies. Poltergeist had a couple sequels, but I still like to remember it as a lone film because it's just that great.
May 2, 2012
Tyler Robertson

Super Reviewer

It's scary, tense and filled with memorable characters and lines. Poltergeist most intriguingly never fails to break it's eery feeling once the ghostly activity begins despite it's utter silliness.
March 7, 2012
Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

    1. Carol Anne: They're here!
    – Submitted by Dutch E (16 months ago)
    1. Steve: [shouting in Teague's face] You son of a bitch! You moved the cemetery, but you left the bodies, didn't you? You son of a bitch, you left the bodies and you only moved the headstones! You-only-moved-the-headstones! Lies! Lies!
    – Submitted by Bria M (2 years ago)
    1. Tangina: This house is clean.
    – Submitted by Marian R (2 years ago)
    1. Steve: Look, something's funny going on here next door. Something.
    2. Diane: We were wondering if maybe you had experienced any disturbances.
    3. Tuthill: What kind of disturbances?
    4. Diane: Oh, you know, like dishes or furniture moving around by themselves.
    – Submitted by Gregg G (3 years ago)
    1. Diane: Now reach back into our past when you used to have an open mind, remember that? Just try to use that for the next couple of minutes.
    – Submitted by Gregg G (3 years ago)
    1. Diane: It's like another side nature, that you and I aren't qualified to understand. When you overreact, it makes what happened much to important.
    – Submitted by Gregg G (3 years ago)
View all quotes (7)

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