Poltergeist (1982 franchise)

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Scene from Poltergeist (1982 franchise)....

The original franchise consisted of three films (Poltergeist, Poltergeist 2: The Other side, Poltergeist 3), with a planned fourth film canceled after the star's untimely death. A short-lived (and generally unrelated) TV series appeared in the late 1990s, and a reboot/remake/sequel to the original film was made in 2015.


"It knows what scares you." A family is haunted by a host of malevolent spirits.


  • Release Date: 1982-2015
  • Country/Language: US, English
  • Genres/Technical: Horror (American Gothic), Fantasy
  • Setting: 1980s small-town USA
  • Starring: Heather O'Rourke, Oliver Robins, JoBeth Williams, Craig T. Nelson, Dominique Dunne, etc.
  • Director: Tobe Hooper, etc.
  • Writer: Steven Spielberg (story and screenplay), Michael Grais and Mark Victor (screenplay), etc.
  • Producer/Production Co: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Amblin Entertainment, SLM Production Group
  • View Trailer: (link), (link), (link), (link), (link), (link)
  • TVTropes Page: (1982 & 2005), (1986), (link), (series)
  • IMDB Page: (1982), (1986), (link), (series), (2015)


MPAA Ratings

  • Rated: PG (mild Violence, Adult Content)

Tentacle Ratings

A rough measure of how "Lovecraftian" the work is:

  • S____ (One Tentacle: Debateably Lovecraftian; has almost no direct connection to Lovecraft's work)

Not directly "Lovecraftian", though the "ghosts" in the original film (and the sequels) have more in common with the traditional tales of Faeries that inspired Arthur Machen's fiction, which was influential on Lovecraft's work. A Tentacle Monster does appear near the end of the film, emerging from the bedroom closet. The haunting in later films is revealed to be the work of a doomsday cult which died in a cavern under the family's haunted house. The "other side" might be thought of as an alien dimension, reached by entering the sorts of bizarre mathematical arcs or angles that Lovecraft's witches and such could travel through, or perhaps equivalent to a nightmarish version of the Dreamlands. Though he never appeared on-screen, H.P. Lovecraft was hypothetically a character in the television series (as were a number of other famous Weird Fiction and Gothic Horror personalities); apparently adaptations of "Dreams in the Witch House (fiction)" and "The Music of Erich Zann (fiction)" were considered for the TV series, but the series was canceled before this could happen.

Note: This rating is not intended as a measure of quality, merely of how closely related to Lovecraftian "Weird" fiction the work is.


Review Links:

  • (review needed)


 Spoiler Section (Highlight to Read)

POLTERGEIST (1982) - Strange and creepy happenings beset an average California family, the Freelings -- Steve, Diane, teenaged Dana, eight-year-old Robbie, and five-year-old Carol Ann -- when ghosts commune with them through the television set. Initially friendly and playful, the spirits turn unexpectedly menacing, and, when Carol Ann goes missing, Steve and Diane turn to a parapsychologist and eventually an exorcist for help. POLTERGEIST 2: THE OTHER SIDE (1986) - The Freelings have escaped their haunted house, which is now being studied by paranormal investigators, including shaman Taylor. When Taylor realizes that the Beast, masquerading as the Rev. Kane, knows where young Carol Anne Freeling now lives, he goes to warn the family that their daughter is in danger again. To protect Carol, her father, Steve, and the rest of the family must plot to take down the Beast. POLTERGEIST 3 (1988) - Psychically attuned youngster Carol Anne is sent to live in Chicago with her Uncle Bruce and Aunt Pat. But that doesn't mean that she's escaped the apparitions that have haunted her in the past. When she starts experiencing terrifying visions, her school psychologist believes that they're figments of her imagination. But this becomes hard to believe when ghostly foes start inhabiting the mirrors in her relatives' high-rise apartment. POLTERGEIST, THE LEGACY (1996-1999 TV series) - A group known as The Legacy battles the forces of evil and the paranormal in an effort to keep humanity from being destroyed. The team is made up of various members, including brilliant scholar Dr. Derek Rayne, psychiatrist Dr. Rachel Corrigan, researcher Alexandra "Alex" Moreau and former Navy SEAL Nick Boyle. The members of The Legacy search for and uncover a secret world of terror while trying to defend the world against evil and darkness. The first three seasons aired on Showtime before moving to Sci-Fi Channel for its final season. POLTERGEIST (2015) - All seems well for Eric Bowen, wife Amy and their three children as they move into their new house in the suburbs of Illinois. Soon, youngest daughter Maddy begins talking to an imaginary friend, or so the family thinks. It's not long before sinister spirits wreak havoc in the home, holding Maddy captive and forcing the parents to consult a team of parapsychologists who engage the supernatural entities in a battle for the girl's freedom.


Comments, Trivia, Dedication

  • Poltergeist III was not intended to end the way it did, but the ending had to be changed due to an insufficient budget, last-minute changes prompted by Executive Meddling due to an unsatisfying ending, and due to the sudden, unexpected and untimely death of Heather "Carol Anne" O'Rourke, the child star of the film franchise. More information can be found here: (link)

Associated Mythos Elements

Keeper Notes