Box art for Poltergeist


horror, sci-fi & fantasy

When Steve Freeling moves his family into a new house in the development and it looks like things are going well for him and his family. But as his wife and his children begin to unpack and settle in, strange things start happening.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

PAUSE for kids age 12
0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
3 out of 5
2 out of 5
Positive messages
1 out of 5
Positive role models
1 out of 5
0 out of 5
3 out of 5

One of the all-time great haunted house movies.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that this movie touches on many things that are frightening to kids (and some adults), including scary shadows in the dark, monsters in the closet, and separation from family. A character rips the flesh from his face (though eventually we see he's hallucinating). A young boy is attacked by a ghost-inhabited tree. A girl is taken from her parents and held in a netherworld where she's menaced by a character it's intimated is evil. The parents are seen smoking marijuana, and are apparently regular users.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about what makes this movie so scary. Are the effects, the ghosts and other things that you see, that are so frightening? Or is the situations?
  • Did you identify with the little girl who was taken away? What about the little boy attacked by a tree?
  • Did this movie make you think of the times when you were little that you thought there were monsters in the closet or under the bed?
  • Why do people like watching movies that frighten them?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    reviews counted: 1
    see all Poltergeist reviews
  • Audience


Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: So darn good it makes me wish Spielberg hadn't given up on the horror genre.

- Scott Weinberg, FEARnet, Thursday, June 24, 2010

Audience Reviews

4 stars

Poltergeist opens on a Sunday in your run of the mill suburb in California. It's one of those sub divisions where the houses all look alike and the neighborhood flows from one day into the next. We finally stop at the Freeling house with the typical '80's nuclear family: Steven (Craig T. Nelson) is the patriarch, driving the station wagon to and fro to bring home the bacon,his wife Diane (JoBeth Williams), trying to run a household with their three kids, teenage Dana (Dominique Dunne), Robbie (Oliver Robins), and Carol Anne (Heather O'Rourke). This is suburbia at its finest. But Steven Spielberg and Tobe Hooper aren't going to leave it that way. You see, weird things are going on. First Carol Anne talks with the television in the middle of the night. Should it be strange? Kids sleepwalk. Hell, I once hovered over my cousin in the dead of the night for no reason other than I didn't know I was doing it at the time. Next the chairs start to move by themselves, prompting more excitement than terror over this unique gift. It's a parlor trick, tried and true. The thing is that things deteriorate quickly to the point that an old tree outside tries to eat Robbie in a ruse for whatever spirit has infected this house to take Carol Anne to another dimension and use her has their guide into the "light". The remainder of the film revolves around bringing Carol Anne back to the cul de sac. The question is does Poltergeist classify as a horror film. Or is it a thriller? Or is it social commentary? Maybe it's a hybrid of all those things. Maybe it isn't. The great thing about Poltergeist is that it uses a formula similar to Night of the Living Dead fifteen years before it. It takes the most typical and comfortable situation, this time being the families own home, and sends it plummeting into hell. The supermarket groceries and Star Wars toys are all set dressing as the family is dragged from suburban bliss to pure terror. Poltergeist achieves this desired effect. Your comfort zone is shattered. There is no safe place to go anymore. Hell has entered the front door and there's not a damn thing you can do about it.

- sononothing, Thursday, July 29, 2010

3 stars

I watched this long time ago. This was so good. R.I.P Heather O'Rourke. A lot of people also died who was in it. R.I.P to all.

- 3niR, Friday, June 4, 2010

4 stars

While it's not really scary or suspenseful by today's standards (even then it had to compete with The Shining and other masterpieces), it can still be enjoyed for the fact that it is so odd and campy. Full of bizarre effects, midgets and moving trees it's one crazy ride. It also has to be appreciated for tackling the subject of ghosts in a unique way. While there are some reputable elements to this film, it's mostly Tobe Hooper's sense of a family friendly horror movie that I find interesting.

- ythelastman89, Friday, April 2, 2010