Modern horror movie-makers could learn a lot from watching Poltergeist
. For here, you'll find no loud music, no insistence on showing you absolutely everything, and no cast of screaming, nauseating teenagers. In its place is deliberate pacing, some very simple, yet effective, chills, and characters who you actually care about as the tension gets ratcheted up.
It's surprising too just how effective Poltergeist is at its job and this is over a quarter of a century after it was first released. It's not a perfect film, although few would ever have argued that it was, suffering from a slightly flabby running time, and a narrative that has to stretch to cover it. Yet it's as good an example of a haunted house movie as Hollywood has mustered in the past few decades, and it still has the power to send some very unsettling chills up the spine.
Time has dated Poltergeist a little, as you might expect. But it is better for it, and far more effective, resulting in a genuinely unnerving way to lose the best part of two hours. Furthermore, it's never had the chance to look better in the home, thanks to the glisten of a 1080p video transfer on the Blu-ray release. After all, if you want to be scared witless, you may as well be haunted in the best possible quality. --Jon Foster
Produced by Steven Spielberg, this hugely successful horror flick apparently came under his directorial control, as well, despite the official credit being given to Tobe Hooper. Things start going bump in the night in a suburban home, much to the consternation of its resident family. When the youngest daughter gets sucked into the television screen, her parents call in an eccentric psychic for assistance.