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POLTERGEIST
(25th Anniversary Edition)

Itís hard to believe that a quarter of a century has passed since POLTERGEIST ($20) was released into theaters. POLTERGEIST has been one of my favorite haunted house movies for as long as I can remember and the film remains as potent today as it was, when it was first released. The reason the movie remains effective is the fact that its story is grounded in middle class normalcy, with the supernatural elements layered on top. POLTERGEIST tells the tale of the Freeling family, who are living the American dream in the middle of Californian suburbia. Strange things begin happening in the household, starting with the five-year-old Carol Anne Freeling (Heather O'Rourke) talking to someone or something through static of a vacant television channel.

Other odd things occur in the household, like furniture and other things in the household being moved by an unseen force. However, this is only a preamble to something otherworldly punching a hole into our realm and abducting Carol Anne. Devastated by the loss of their youngest child, whom they can still hear through the vacant television channel, Steven (Craig T. Nelson) and Diane (JoBeth Williams) enlist the help of paranormal investigator Dr. Lesh (Beatrice Straight). Convinced that something truly supernatural is occurring in the Freeling household; Dr. Lesh in turn, brings in clairvoyant Tangina Barrons (Zelda Rubinstein) to help Steven and Diane retrieve their daughter from whatever is holding her on the other side. What follows is a Rollercoaster ride of thrills and special effects, but POLTERGEIST remains grounded in its solid performances, especially Rubinsteinís Oscar worthy turn, which has become one of the most unforgettable aspects of the movie. The cast of POLTERGEIST also includes Dominique Dunne, Oliver Robins, Michael McManus, Virginia Kiser, James Karen and Dirk Blocker.

Warner Home Video has made POLTERGEIST available on DVD in a 2.35:1 widescreen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. Considering the vintage of POLTERGEIST, Warner has outdone themselves with the presentation. In general, the image is sharp and very well defined. Sure, there are the occasional shots that come off as slightly soft, but there really isnít anything worth complaining about. Hues are surprisingly well rendered and flesh tones are pretty appealing. Blacks are deep, whites are crisp and the picture boasts good contrast and better than expected shadow detail for a twenty five year old movie. The film elements appear incredibly clean and the level of film grain remains reasonable. Digital compression artifacts are always well concealed.

POLTERGEIST comes with an upgraded Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. Back in the days of Laserdisc, POLTERGEIST had a pretty great sounding track, and the 5.1 sound mix seems to be very faithful to filmís Dolby Surround origins. As expected, the forward soundstage is dominant, with the rear channels coming to life rather effectively at key moments, but the isnít as tight or lively as todayís fully digital tracks. Still, there is good channel separation across the front for sound effects placement as well. Fidelity is quite good, although there is no mistaking that the recordings are two and a half decades old. However, Jerry Goldsmithís score still impresses. The bass channel is solid enough, although it lacks that fully ground-shaking component. English, French and Spanish Dolby Surround tracks are also encoded onto the DVD, as is a Portuguese monaural track. English, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Chinese subtitles are included on the disc.

Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the two-part program They Are Here: The Real World Of Poltergeists Revealed.

POLTERGEIST is still a potent fright fest and Warnerís classy presentation makes the film look better than I ever remember seeing it. Recommended.

 

POLTERGEIST (25TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION) 


Poltergeist (25th Anniversary Edition) (1982)

ENHANCED FOR 16:9 TELEVISIONS 

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DVD reviews are Copyright © 2007 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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