[Podcast] Poltergeist (1982) – Episode 106 – Decades of Horror 1980s

“They’re Here.” Carol Anne Freeling (Heather O’Rourke) becomes an iconic character in the history of horror. Poltergeist sent shockwaves through audiences when it premiered 35 years ago. Taking the traditional suburban landscape and sending ghosts through it. Giving a whole generation fears of trees, TV sets and clowns. The nightmare fuel is palpable to this day, as Poltergeist still has the type of imagery that resonates. Now, Poltergeist is getting the Decades of Horror treatment, as the show celebrates its one-year anniversary with another Tobe Hooper film. Well… whether or not it’s that is up for debate.

Decades of Horror 1980s
Episode 106 – Poltergeist (1982)

Poltergeist has a pretty solid pedigree. Written and produced by Steven Spielberg, the 1982 ghost story was made concurrently with Spielberg’s directorial effort E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. To the point where Drew Barrymore got her role in the latter by auditioning for the former. Then again, who could possibly see Poltergeist without Heather O’Rourke as the adorable Carol Anne? Or Craig T. Nelson and Jobeth Williams as the endearing heads of The Freeling family? The entire cast makes for an incredibly convincing family unit, one whose struggles with the paranormal are made all the more terrifying by finding them investing. Even the paranormal investigative crew manages to have emotional resonance. Beatrice Straight grounds the investigation with a quiet sense of wonder and Zelda Rubinstein gives an authentic sense of authority that proves “size matters not.”

This Poltergeist episode also means the first year anniversary for Decades of Horror 1980s! A year ago, Doc Rotten, Christopher G. Moore and Thomas Mariani covered Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre II. Now, they’re debating if Mr. Hooper even had anything to do with this one! There’s definitely plenty of Spielbergian touches, but Hooper occasionally peeks his head in for the more technical aspects of the haunts. Yet, Hooper doesn’t seem as capable of capturing the afterlife’s sense of wonder as Spielberg. Or the tight nit grounded family dynamic. Or the suburban solidarity that gets torn apart by the titular spectres. Whoever did end up directing, the results can’t be denied. Poltergeist is still one of the most popular films of the decade and no amount of sequels, TV shows or remakes can recapture the unique blend of the original.

We want to hear from you – the coolest, most gruesome fans:  leave us a message or leave a comment on the site or email the Decades of Horror 1980s podcast hosts at thomasmariani@decadesofhorror.com or docrotten@decadesofhorror.com.

Doc Rotten
Editor-In-Chief / Founder / Podcast Producer at Horror News Radio
Doc Rotten is the founder of Gruesome Magazine. He is also a film critic for Gruesome Magazine and the podcast host & producer for Horror News Radio, Monster Movie Podcast, Decades of Horror: 1970s, The American Horror Story Fan Podcast and Hannibal Fan Podcast. He is also co-host of the Dracula podcast on TV TALK and is a contributing reviewer for HorrorNews.Net and Widescreen Warrior.

Doc a lifelong fan of horror films, sci-fi flicks and monster movies first discovering Universal Monsters and Planet of the Apes as a young child in the 1970's searching out every issue of Famous Monster of Filmland (and, later, Fangoria). Favorite films include Jaws, The Car, The Birds, The Tingler, Vampire Circus and The Exorcist. Still a huge fan of horror films from the 70s, Doc continues consuming horror films to this day for the site, for the podcasts and for the fun of it all.