As much as I enjoy a good horror movie with blood, guts and gratuitous sex, supernatural films really freak me out. I can handle strange people and their even stranger families, but introduce a supernatural element and I won’t be sleeping that night, or venturing into my basement for that matter.
That being said, in my opinion, the scariest movie of all time as of this writing is Poltergeist. I know the majority of horror film buffs would choose The Exorcist, but Poltergeist parallels my own life to some degree.
When the original film was released in 1982, I was only 2 years older than its child star, the late Heather O’Rourke. If all these awful things could happen to my peer Carol Anne, why not me? As a kid, that’s a frightening prospect.
Carol Anne’s brother Robbie had an encounter with a hungry tree in the movie. Outside my bedroom window, all the way in the back of the yard, stood a tree that looked like it had a face on its trunk. The tree was creepy before I saw Poltergeist, seeing the movie did nothing to alleviate the general unease I felt toward it. In fact, I grew to dislike that particular tree even more.
Poor Robbie was also attacked by a clown in his room, and I had such a clown in my own room as well. Clowns are not something that normally bother me, but if they’re trying to drag you under your bed, that’s another issue entirely.
Lastly, my neighbor’s house was huge, it had been converted from a funeral home. It also had an in-ground swimming pool. The Freelings had a pool filled with corpses at the film’s conclusion. If I remember correctly the home was built on a graveyard, where the head stones were removed but not the bodies.
To this day, a fuzzy television bothers me. It’s not enough to simply turn the volume down and wait for the picture to reappear, I have to turn the set off and keep checking back on the picture.
Poltergeist may not be everyone’s choice for the scariest movie, but until I get possessed and spew pea soup, I can relate to Carol Anne much more than Regan.