Given the talents, Poltergeist is an annoying film because it could have been so much better. Certainly, the subject is interesting, a persistent parapsychological phenomenon that defies scientific explanation, yet refuses to go away.
But producer Steven Spielberg and the director Tobe Hooper, don’t really care. They’re fully content to demonstrate how well they can create the physical manifestations, plus a lot of standard sideshow horrors.
But the story is truly stupid, though well-acted. Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams are the parents, living almost wall-to-wall with their neighbors in a suburban development. But when the furniture starts to fly around the room and the big tree in the yard gets hungry for the kids nobody ever seems to notice. Here you have a house in the middle of the street going berserk in Dolby Stereo and nobody calls the cops. But Williams is terrific as the mother, at first amused by the strange goings-on in her kitchen and later terrified when cute little Heather O’Rourke disappears into the walls. And Zelda Rubinstein walks off with the film as the miniature lady who comes to cleanse the house.
1982: Nominations: Best Original Score, Sound Effects Editing, Visual Effects