They’re here, Carol-Ann? Are they? Well, send them back!
I think that for the most part I’ve been going through the motions this month, watching horror movie after horror movie, operating under the happy delusion that – because I hadn’t really been scared by any of the movies I’d seen, dismissing one after another as “scary enough” – maybe I’d, without my knowing it, grown up to be scared-proof. As a kid I was this whimpering, little coward, leaving my closet light on for weeks after I read something that frightened me in a “Goosebumps.” But, at 22, I had become this strong, strapping, horror-movie loving lad, a man who laughs in the face of impending cinematic danger. Ho ho, ha ha!
And then the last thirty minutes of “Poltergeist” happened. If I had to put my level of fright on a scale of 1-10, than “Blacula” never breached a 1.5. “The Fly” got to about a 5. “The Thing” to maybe a 7. At its scariest moments, “Ghost Story” got to maybe an 8, mostly because the lights were off and I was all worked up. The climax of “Poltergeist” got me to a full-on ten. Granted, as a kid, I could get to 13 or 14, but a 10 was still pretty ridiculous. I was sitting bolt upright, my arms wrapped around me, gasping “Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god…” over and over.
“Poltergeist” tricked me. I watched it on AMC, and I got through most of the movie with moderate scares (the tree, the mirror-scene), right up to the point where the movie seems clearly to be over. Commercials throw off your perception of this. I accepted, as the family peacefully readied to move out of their haunted house, that the movie was over. Carol-Ann was safe. Their were no loose ends to tie up. I had no reason to disbelieve the movie when it announced proudly that “This house is clean.”
But I was upset. I was almost certain that “Poltergeist” had a scary clown scene. I was almost positive, and this movie had a clown, but it hadn’t done anything out of the ordinary.
This is how certain I was that the movie was over: I was getting visibly angry at AMC for editing out the movie’s most famous scene to make it fit in their time slot. I was swearing off ever watching AMC again. I thought this was a travesty.
And then, as I though these angry, righteous thoughts, the movie kept going. Mom put the kids to bed, she got in the bath, and then… this happened…
And from there, it was just delirium. Ghost rape. Spider ghost. Corpses in the pool. Corpses popping from the ground. The house shattering into a black hole of it’s own making.
My eyes popped. This was relentless. The movie, which had been a fairly restrained family drama which treated specters and the afterlife with a mix of Speilbergian wonder and a little bit of the menace of “Jaws,” suddenly lost its mind and skeletons (real skeletons!) were just floating into view, getting their deadness all over our protagonists. I could barely watch.
It was awesome! I’m so glad I got to be that scared. Some may question that it was “Poltergeist” that elicited that reaction from me. After all, though this movie does get pretty insane, it must be said that not a single person dies in this film. Not even the black guy! (So now we’re at Convention 1, Black Guys 3, so yay!) But this film deals heavily in depth, and it handles dark stuff with a deft, light touch that I just loved.
This was, by an inch, the favorite of the horror movies I watched this month, both because it scared me the most and because it moved me the most. What do you think? Have you ever seen “Poltergeist?” Am I a wimp for liking it? Or did it freak you out too?