Poltergeist

Screening on Film
Teens
$5 Weekend Matinee Admission or Free with Cambridge Public Library Card
Directed by Tobe Hooper.
With Jobeth Williams, Craig T. Nelson, Beatrice Straight.
US, 1982, 35mm, color, 114 min.
Print source: Warner Bros.

Directed by Tobe Hooper, produced and written by Steven Spielberg, the film often seems like signature Spielberg—including the middle-class family dynamic and a focus on children that lends a softer, but no less scary, edge to the disturbing events suddenly taking place in the Freeling home. A horror film crafted to scare viewers of all ages, Poltergeist barely earned its PG-rating because of a single scene of surreal gore. With special effects that have aged relatively well, the film is now a compendium of iconic phenomena—Carol Anne’s hands on the television, the carnivorous tree tapping against the bedroom window, the possessed clown doll, Zelda Rubinstein’s indelible medium—ingrained in pop culture’s psyche. Despite touching on modern problems such as suburban alienation, rampant homogenous development, missing children, desecration of sacred land, media messages, and of course, the power of television, the film and its family always maintain a certain positivity and lightheartedness, perhaps because realizing so many primal fears in one movie requires a little more levity than your average poltergeist can provide. 

Age recommendation: 15+

Part of program

Read more

Weekend Matinee

Current and upcoming programs

Read more

The B–Film Low–Budget Hollywood Cinema 1935–1959

Read more

Cinema of Resistance

Read more

Make My Day. The Cinematic Imagination of the Reagan Era

Read more
actor at desk with microphones in front and tv monitor in back

The Shipwrecker

Read more

Cinema of Resistance