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Poltergeist (1982)

PG | | Horror, Thriller | 4 June 1982 (USA)
A family's home is haunted by a host of ghosts.


, (uncredited)


(screenplay), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
1,578 ( 203)

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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 4 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Diane Freeling (as Jobeth Williams)
Martin Casella ...
Lou Perryman ...
Pugsley (as Lou Perry)
Clair E. Leucart ...
Bulldozer Driver (as Clair Leucart)
Jeff Shaw


A young family are visited by ghosts in their home. At first the ghosts appear friendly, moving objects around the house to the amusement of everyone, then they turn nasty and start to terrorise the family before they "kidnap" the youngest daughter. Written by Rob Hartill

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The first real ghost story. See more »


Horror | Thriller


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

4 June 1982 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Juegos diabólicos  »

Box Office


$10,700,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$6,896,612 (USA) (4 June 1982)


$76,600,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (original cut)

Sound Mix:

(35 mm prints) (as Dolby Stereo)| (70 mm prints)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The scene in which Diane opens the bedroom door and is met with a fearsome scream was the first to be filmed. See more »


When Dana looks out the window at Steven rescuing Robbie from the tree, it is raining against the window and dark. In the next shot, she runs outside to witness the tornado vanishing and the rain has stopped and it is much brighter outside. See more »


[first lines]
Carol Anne: Hello? What do you look like? Talk louder, I can't hear you! Hey, hello! Hello, I can't hear you! Five. Yes. Yes. I don't know. I don't know.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The initial end credits has the closing shot of the Holiday Inn as a backdrop. See more »


Referenced in The Omen Legacy (2001) See more »


Twisted Abduction
Strings and Percussion Arranged by Chris Boardman
Written, Music and Performed by Jerry Goldsmith
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Scary, chilling haunted house thriller makes for an exciting spookfest
15 December 2016 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Horror films centering on ghosts haunting an average American family have dated back to the early age of Hollywood, arguably during the silent film era. Ever since then, many Hollywood directors have tried emulate the effective scare factor in films dealing with a family fighting against evil spirits. Some attempts have prevailed, others have fallen victim to dull, unscary duds. This haunted house horror flick directed by Tobe Hooper, the man behind the legendary 70s horror flick 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' is not only far from the latter category but still manages to hold up it's scare hallmark to this day. In this stellar 80s horror film, Hooper maintains a helping hand from legendary filmmaker Steven Spielberg who not only serves as the screenwriter but also a co-producer with his frequent collaborator Frank Marshall to bloom a spine-chilling supernatural film that leaves you scooting at the edge of your seat. This film follows a family living in a suburban California neighborhood, the family consists of Diane Freeling (played by JoBeth Williams), her husband Steven (played by Craig T. Nelson), and their three children: 16-year old Dana (played by Dominique Dunne), middle child Robbie (played by Oliver Robins), and their youngest Carol Anne (played by Heather O'Hourke). When the family is unexpectedly visited by evil spirits and the youngest child is subsequently abducted, the family must acquire the help of an expert parapsychologist Tangina Barrons (played by Zelda Rubinstein) to save her.

When Tobe Hooper made 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' in 1974, he proved to have more than the potential to establishing a nerve-wracking atmosphere without feeling the need to rely heavily on gratuitous gore and stock characters; both of which made major trademarks in the horror genre during the 80s and 90s. Instead, he preserves a scary atmosphere not only through spooky imagery including a tree in the background that springs to life in a malevolent manner, and a sinister clown doll (though not with the scary facial features as Chucky in 'Child's Play') but also through effectively building suspenseful gravitas. And he successfully accomplishes this without relying on contrived jump scares. From the opening minutes of the ghost terrorizing the family, to the loud, hair-raising climax following the full-scale paranormal invasion of the house; the emotions of the characters can greatly be felt. Straight-out spook scares along with a grotesquely gruesome hallucination sequence in a bathroom are all Tobe Hooper has under his belt, he gracefully offers a few tongue-in-cheeks to deflate at least some of the horror. In terms of performances, the cast gives some alright performances as the Freeling family, but perhaps the most top-notch is the emotionally chilling portrayal of the parapsychologist Tangina Barrons by Zelda Rubinstein who provides some chilling substance and fear as the helping hand in their unpleasant predicament.

Poltergeist is an astonishing horror film achievement by Tobe Hooper, a heart-stopping horror flick that makes for an honest scare experience. Children are in danger throughout the picture, there is an explicit sense of terror that pushes it's PG-rating far over the edge (and possibly the PG-13 rating), and there are plenty of moement to make an average child (and teen) struggle to go to bed at night. Calling the horror film of the decade may feel a bit of an overstatement as it doesn't quite touch the pinnacle of the 80s horror genre. Nonetheless, it is a solid supernatural thriller that really works even to this day.

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