8:00 PM, 11th October, 2013
This is a film for all of those who are a little bit ‘weird’. If you’ve never seen Tim Burton’s classic 1988 dark comedy (with a little bit of drama and a thin smear of scary bits) – you really should NOW! If you’ve seen it before – SEE IT AGAIN!! An all-star cast headed by Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Michael Keaton and Winona Ryder. There’s also a strong supporting cast of famous ’80s comedy faces including Jeffrey Jones and Catherine O’Hara.
Adam Maitland (Baldwin) and his wife Barbara (Davis) die in a car accident in their picturesque Vermont town but remain as ghosts in their old house. While struggling to come to grips with their ‘passing’, the Maitlands are shocked by the rich, yuppie Deetz family that moves into their home and the deep isolation and sorrow of their goth daughter Lydia (Ryder).
The Maitlands try their incompetent best to scare-away the Deetzes, but only succeed in attracting interest and attention from them and their pretentiously stylish hangers-on. In an act of desperation, the Maitlands call-in professional ‘haunter’ Beetlejuice (Keaton) – but at what cost?
This film is a sheer joy, Keaton’s Beetlejuice steals every scene with machine-gun dialogue and madcap slapstick. Burton’s surreal visions of the afterlife and the ‘undead civil-service’ are a wonder to behold (even if the Harryhausen-esque model-work looks a bit dated by today’s standards). The Harry Belafonte tunes really top-off a gem of a film.
9:47 PM, 11th October, 2013
The Freelings are your average early 1980s family – Dad (Nelson), Mum (Williams) and three kids. It's even sort of adorable that the youngest daughter, Carol Anne (O’Rourke), has started talking to the TV. Until strange events start taking place – items spontaneously breaking, furniture moving on its own… and soon Carol Anne is missing, and it becomes obvious that malevolent ghosts are at work. With the assistance of Tangina (Rubenstein), a skilled medium, the Freelings have to fight to get their daughter back.
Poltergeist brings the haunted house movie into ’80s suburbia – into ’80s Spielberg suburbia, in fact (the director credit on this film is particularly controversial, but it's undeniable that this does reflect Spielberg's style more than it does Hooper's). But this also reflects some of the malevolent side that Spielberg got away with during the early ’80s – between this (which was, astonishingly, rated PG in its original release), Gremlins and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Spielberg is responsible for quite a degree of childhood terrors for those of us who were of the right susceptible age. And thirty years later, it's still a scary night in the cinema.