The legend of Zelda…
Lots of really weird things occupy and enter a house. Elsewhere there are ghosts as well.
Zelda Runbinstein. A lot of strange things occur during the course of Poltergeist. The uneasy mix of 80s cheese (elderly man falls off bike. Hilarity ensues) and genuine horror (man peels off his own face) for one thing. Seemingly wildly inappropriate jokes about a teenage girl being a slut for another. The suggestion that any parents would buy an absolutely terrifying clown doll and then place it on a chair facing their young sons bed is yet another.
All of this pales in significance though when compared to the strangeness of the character Tangina(!) played by Zelda Rubinstein. About two thirds of the way through she shows up. Four feet three inches. A voice so high pitched that it suggests she is in fact just a really big mouse that can speak. It’s like the writers couldn’t think of an ending so they just took a character from a totally different story and threw her into this. She is, of course, glorious. ‘There is no such thing as death’ is her opening gambit I believe.
On a more serious note childhood heroine Heather O’ Rourke is actually great as focal character Carol Anne which makes O’Rourke’s tragic death at 12 years old all the more heartbreaking. Craig T. Nelson manages to keep what is a pretty wild story on the page grounded in realism with a strong performance as well.
Poltergeist pretty much invented a whole genre on it’s own ( Paranormal Activity, Insidious, Sinister etc all owe it a massive debt) and if it feels clichéd now it is only because Poltergeist pretty much invented a lot of the stuff you have come to expect in a ghost story.