Continuing our countdown of the top five haunted house horror movies of all time:
2. Poltergeist (1982) Dir: Tobe Hopper
Everyone’s favourite director of power tool related massacring films knocked it out of the park with one of the most recognisable family haunted house films, Poltergesist.
The film follows a family as they move into a new house unfortunately built on an Indian burial ground-I’d be asking for a new conveyancing solicitor! The ghost like presence in the house focuses on the youngest child played by Heather O’Rourke who unfortunately passed away some years later.
The tension is built methodically with minimal activity at first building as the house takes hold of the family. Where Poltergeist is so effective is the use of a family unit, the threat of the destruction of the family through the torment of the spirit is every parents nightmare especially with centring the attention on the younger child, Carol Anne.
The film, tightly directed by Hooper became the subject of much speculation that the films producer, Steven Spielberg had actually took over directing duties. An unfair comparison when looking at Texas Chainsaw Massacre and how tension is handled in that film compared to Poltergeist, both have a lingering under tension, an ongoing sense of imminent destruction and a break down and rebuilding of a family unit. If anything the slickness of the look of the film makes it look more Hollywood when perhaps it would have been even scarier had Hooper done it on a no budget.
Either way Poltergeist remains the pinnacle for haunted house films in modern Hollywood both for its handling of rising drama and its use of the archetypal American family to engage the audience.