Ghosts, Killers and Zombies-Oh My! Part 2!!

This past weekend, Paranormal Activity 3 opened and ruled the box office.  As of the writing of this post, it had already raked in $54 million in just two days.  Pretty impressive stuff.  The original PA, shot in San Diego on a low-budget, actually got this trilogy started using some of the oldest and best tricks in the book: suspense, suspense and more suspense. Is it any wonder that it was one of the more underrated auteurs of suspense actually led to the original’s purchase and distribution to the public at large? Can anyone guess who watched this in his home theater and went about purchasing the rights the next morning…?

Yep – Steven Spielberg.

So, it should come as no surprise that my favorite ghost story of all time was written & produced by the same man: 1982’s Poltergeist.

Honestly – I don’t know if two words could have creeped me out any more than “They’re here.”  I must have watched this movie almost 100 times, and there are so many reasons to love it too … from a star-making turn by the young Heather O’Rourke to the dreaded “Poltergeist Curse.”  Let’s review some of the highlights:

The Score.  After so many viewings, one cannot help to appreciate the bookend opening and closing music. These contrarian compositions strike the perfect ironic balance to the fright that we are about to and just witnessed.  Credit the great Jerry Goldsmith for this dynamic and beautiful film score.

Zelda Rubinstein.  At an overpowering 4’3″, Ms. Rubinstein absolutely chews up the scenes she takes part in.  As the quirky Tangina Barrons, she is there to be large and in-charge and pulls it off despite the phenomenal performances by…

Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams. Honestly, as a kid, I don’t think I had ever viewed a cooler depiction of parents to that point in my young, movie-going life.  They let their kids curse, they smoked pot, and they loved the heck of their children.  It went against everything I had ever known as a young, Catholic-school kid from New Jersey.  Really – these two performances is what grounds the film and keeps us vested as an audience.

So, this Halloween, as I do every year, I will be plugging in my word down DVD of Poltergeist.  I only mentioned a few reasons why I love this film, because the more I write, the more I just want to watch it again.  I would love to hear from you – what is your favorite thing about this movie?  Do you have another favorite film about ghosts?

Stay tuned for my final installment of Zombies, Ghosts and Killers – Oh My sometime next week!

[Flickr Photo by Mykl Roventine and used under the Creative Commons license]

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2 thoughts on “Ghosts, Killers and Zombies-Oh My! Part 2!!

  1. Love the scene where the sister shows up after her date and sees the house getting ready to implode screaming, “What’s Happening,” while at the same time her brother in the car (seeing the sister) is screaming, “Drive Away Dad, Drive Away!”

    • Agreed! There is a ton of well-placed humor throughout – which is a typical Spielberg trademark. Even at the end, when they arrive at a highway motel, enter the room and close the door … you think it’s over…until the door opens, and the Dad forcefully rolls out the TV and then slams the door again. Love it! Thanks for the comment, Maggie! I hope you keep reading!!

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