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Poltergeist

Tobe Hooper

A family’s home is haunted by a host of ghosts.

“Poltergeist points to intense middle-class insecurities in the Age of Reagan, with growing fears of unemployment, losing one’s home, and losing control over one’s life and possessions. It contains a panorama of fears in the face of corporate power and greed, an economy out of control and rapid cultural change. It reproduces the fears of disintegration of the family exploited by Reagan and the New Right, as well as fears of television, and losing control over one’s children. It reveals the Age of Reagan and Bush to be an era of fear and trembling for both the middle and working classes, who are faced with intensifying threats to their livelihood and well-being.

Poltergeist thus presents an allegory concerning contemporary American nightmares. It achieves its power by drawing on fears of falling, which it presents in symbolic form that allows people to experience their subconscious anxieties in the safe medium of film in an ideology machine that smoothes over and tranquilizes their fears by showing the family pulling through. Although Poltergeist hints that corporate capitalism is rapacious – destroying the earth, exploiting people, and even threatening human survival – the real source of contemporary anxieties is displaced onto the occult. Hence, although Poltergeist and other recent horror films contain allegories about contemporary anxieties, the audience is directed by the film toward spectacles of occult horror rather than the horror show of contemporary life in the United States.” The Hidden Foundation: Cinema and the Question of Class

“As well as the corrupting influence of television, Poltergeist provides a sly commentary on the tribulations of suburban life, colonialism, the ill-treatment of Native Americans, the break-down of the nuclear family unit, and the damaging excesses of capitalism and consumerism.” – James Gracey, Eye For Film

“For beneath the surface of an otherwise straightforward haunted house story is a critique of the myopic pompousness of capitalism and the plausibility structures of our modern, Western inheritance. Poltergeist confronts us with powers that exists beyond the circumscribed limits of our socially constructed lifeworld and drives home that we are not the lords of this planet.” – Ian Olson, Reel World Theology

Showing

  • 4/5 | 8:00PM
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