POP GOES THE DECADE- A totally rad look back at the glorious 80's and all the flicks, fashions, tunes, and TV shows that made the decade so cool and memorable in the first place. Like, for sure!

Sunday, August 28, 2011


       I was ten years old when I first experienced "Poltergeist".  I went to a friend's house to watch it because it had just hit HBO- this would have been... oh 1983.  I had been told that I must see this movie immediately.  I was dying to see it anyway.  Needless to say, I was completely blown away by what I was seeing on the screen in front of me.  "Poltergeist", directed by Tobe Hooper (although let's be fair here- this movie has Steven Spielberg's stamp all over it...), literally scared the hell out of me, but it was so much fun- a non-stop roller-coaster ride that never lets up for one second. It's completely entertaining on all levels.  Besides being a top-notch thrill ride, it has the added bonus of some great writing and even greater acting.

Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams, and the kids are sensational in their roles- they're 100% believable and even though the film boasts some astonishing special effects, the acting is what makes "Poltergeist" work. On top of the great family, we're treated to the wonderful Beatrice Straight and Zelda Rubinstein.  This was every family I knew in the 80's.  I lived this.  I completely identified with every single frame of that movie.  I was Robbie- terrified of the shadow on my closet door by the tree outside my window at night.  I also had a super scary clown, I just chose not to keep it.  "Poltergeist" was the second, big haunted house movie I had seen- the first being "The Amityville Horror".  As much as I enjoyed "Amityville", "Poltergeist" seemed real to me at the time.  It really made you think that it could happen to anybody, at anytime.

       "Poltergeist" is hands down one of the greatest haunted house movies ever made.  Besides having the talents of  Tobe Hooper and Spielberg involved, we get the delicious and chilling score by Jerry Goldsmith and one of the most well-known and parodied lines from any movie... "They're heeere.....".  "Poltergeist" is Steven Spielberg's vision of a haunted house/ghost story, and a great one at that.  For some reason taking the haunted house out of the gloomy, cobwebbed mansion and bringing it into contemporary suburbia only made it all the more scary.  It became the standard for haunted house movies to come. The film is making a comeback of sorts, it seems.  I see it talked about more and more on horror blogs in the past couple of years, and next year (2012) will be the films 30th anniversary.

     "Poltergeist" was one of the biggest and most influential movies of my youth, and it's impossible not to think of this movie when you talk of the 1980's.  I know I had never seen anything like this before.  It quite literally blew my mind.  Sadly I did not get to witness this on the big screen, so I can only imagine the effect this had in that environment.  Just watching it on a dark, rainy afternoon on a reasonably large tv as I did was extremely powerful.  It was like "E.T." sort of... only scary.  And as unbelievable as it all is- Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams, Oliver Robins, Dominique Dunne, and Heather O'Rourke firmly make you believe every second of it. This movie, like so many from the 80's, never fails to entertain me.  It's just such a huge part of my childhood.  Luckily, I've never outgrown it, because it's still a hell of good movie.  Maybe slightly dated because of the whole channels signing off at midnight thing, but overall it's still as sharp and witty as always, with the banter between Nelson and Williams priceless.

 "Poltergeist" was so successful and popular it would start not only a franchise, but an undying urban legend about the so-called "Poltergeist" curse that is slowly and methodically killing off all involved with the films.  The film would garner 3 Academy Awards, and ranked # 80 on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments and #69 on AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes for "They're Heeere...".  "Poltergeist" would gross over $78 million dollars and become the highest-grossing horror film of 1982.  It has become a bona fide horror classic, and well deserved at that.  This was some serious nightmares for many kids my age, and I know of a few who are deathly afraid of clowns because of it.  But overall, it's still such a fun movie to watch.  I love this movie.  Dearly.

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