Don’t Go Into the Light

“Do y’all mind hanging back? You’re jamming my frequencies.” Thus speaks the psychic medium Tangina as she tries to vanquish the spirits who’ve been terrorizing a suburban family in 1982’s perennial scare fest, Poltergeist. Eight-year-old Carol Anne, whose early warning — “They’re here” — went unheeded by her parents, has been snatched into a fourth dimension. Poltergeist, which will screen Wednesday as part of the Cinema Series @ ExoStage in SoundScape Park, is a movie to which two distinct legends are attached. One states that the tragic deaths of the actresses playing Carol Anne and her sister are the result of a Poltergeist curse. Another is that director Tobe Hooper was a powerless stand-in for the film’s co-writer and producer, Steven Spielberg. While there’s no question that Hooper follows the visual template of early Spielberg — slow, low-ground camera glides toward a source of wonder or danger; a belief that wit and poetry can be found in everyday objects such as toy trucks and TV sets — he surely deserves credit for the wonderfully vibrant performances of his cast, particularly the actors playing the parents. Before the trouble begins, Carol Anne’s folks can be found smoking a joint in their bedroom — they don’t scramble to hide it when one of their kids comes in — and later, as the mother is about to literally leap into the void to save her daughter, the couple shares a kiss that’s startling in its passion. They are the coolest, sexiest horror-movie parents ever, with a sensibility seemingly born in the late ’60s and early ’70s, an era that taught a fortunate few to respond to the unexplainable with awe, not fear.
Wed., Oct. 26, 8 p.m., 2011


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