KAMN Show #31: Poltergeist

Welcome to Show #31!

Feature Discussion: Summer, David and Brian join forces to discuss Poltergeist, a 1982 offering from Steven Spielberg and Tobe Hooper. Despite the fact this movie is now 25 years old, there is some disagreement on whether this movie can rightfully be called “classic”.

The Ninjas talk about a few elements of daily suburban life that are obviously dated (TV channels going off air), the sharp contrast in tone between the first part and the second part of the movie, and whether or not the movie and it’s special effects can stand the test of time. There’s some disagreement, but it’s all in good fun.

The next KAMN show will cover “War for the Oaks” by Emma Bull. She lives in Arizona now, so you never know who may make a guest appearance on the show.

Listener Feedback: Give us some! You can leave comments here for the show.

Movies mentioned:

Promo: Heaven, Season 3: Earth


Related posts:


  1. jonathan says:

    In this episode you asked a question. Why kids today are afraid of clowns. Some people say it is for “It” but most kids don’t read 2000+ page books. I beleave it comes from one thing. Scooby Doo. The old school kind not the modern crap. Not just once but twice they were attacked by the evil things. I know I hate them, but thats for several reasons I won’t bring up.

  2. Spider-man vs Poltergeist 40 years from now and Summer thinks people will know about Poltergeist? Summer, Summer…come one! Spider-man has been around since 1962 and the movie is very much a part of that now. There is no way 40 years from now that people will not know about Spider-man. And there are already people who don’t know about Poltergeist at that came out in 1982. I love ya, Summer, but no way.


  3. CarrieP says:

    drooooling over the upcoming Quantum Leap episode.

    Poltergeist ep was fun. Never saw the movie (fairly young + strict parents = lack of first-hand 80’s knowledge) but it was an informative and engaging discussion.


  4. Walter, I never said no one would know about Spiderman. I just don’t think the movie will hold up over time as much as Dave seems to think it will. Same thing with the first X-Men movie, as much as I love it. The lasting impact of the comic books is a different and unrelated story.

    And yes, I think Poltergeist will become a cult classic, much like Amazon Women on the Moon… most people have never seen it, but you know they’ve heard about it!

    Unfortunately, the same can be said for Liquid Sky. Many people have heard about it, and it still won’t vanish from the face of the planet.

  5. Summer, I don’t think the police in E. T. were updated with modern technology. It’s more pernicious. They were altered so that they were holding walkie-talkies instead of guns. The whole alteration was political correctness run amok. (“We can’t show guns in a children’s movie!”) It’s the same impulse that led to Greedo shooting first, actually, in another famously altered film.

  6. Thanks Wiz!

    I knew something had been changed, but I didn’t remember that he’d completely erased the guns and replaced them with walkie-talkies.

    Han shot first, dammit.

  7. Poltergeist = cult classic? Time will tell.

    ET: guns turned into walkie talkies = ugh.

    And damn straight Han shot first!

    Thanks for the replies Summer!

  8. i saw poltergeist in the 80s with a friend & it scared the willies out of me. i spent years afterward hoping for no thunderstorms & i’m pretty sure i evicted all my sisters’ clowns!

    i could take or leave (mostly leave) et back then & care even less now. i suspect i was clouded by the crap way that the et people treated starlog magazine back then.

    speilberg is no lucas but let’s not forget he gave his blessing to the excreble episode 1. at least he didn’t stop at 2 great films.

    people don’t have to be intimate with pop culture source to use pop culture references. people often use the reference unknowingly. there are several famous aussie tv commercial quotes which have entered the lexicon but the original product or what was being promoted completely forgotten.

    & really guys (not summer!), judging the ‘crappy’ sfx through the filter of 2007 technology. get over it! you can’t bag granny for not emailing in 1956!

    crap sfx through modern eyes? have you *seen* star wars or empire (the good ones, not the tinkered ones) lately?


  10. Hi, just listened to the Poltergeist show. I’m 21 years old now, so while I’m not old enough to have actually seen either Poltergeist or E.T. in their theater runs, I can still attest to collective unconscious surrounding E.T. I don’t feel like Poltergeist has that same aura, either to me or to my friends around my age. I’ve never seen either movie all the way through, but despite that, I can name four or five iconic scenes from E.T., and not a single one from Poltergeist. As for the “They’re here” line, I didn’t even realize it was from this movie, and the only time I can even remember seeing that clip was from a single TNT “New Classics” montage. Meanwhile, it seems to be a law in Hollywood that every Academy Awards montage most contain at least three clips from E.T. So, sorry Summer, in terms of Poltergeist’s transition to Classic, I’d say it seems more likely to be relegated to the “memorable 80’s movies” category.

  11. I still think it’ll make “cult classic” status! Where’s Joe Bob Briggs when you need him? :)

    Seriously, I was never all that impressed with E.T. and have never understood the phenomenon that grew up around it. I understand the “whoa cool” factor, the first time ever seeing it, but after that… I guess I really never understand what all the fuss was about.

    On this, I will acknowledge that I stand on the far end of the commentary, but I don’t think I’ll ever come to like E.T. more than Poltergeist.

  12. Hey ninjas
    Love the show. It was starter drug for most of the other far point media podcast. Anyway, I just listened to your podcast on poltergeist and I felt the you guys were missing the boat on a few issues.

    1) Its true, Carol Ann was born in the house and that may be part of it but as said quite plainly by the films info dump queen Tangina (the fantastic Zelda Rubinstein) Carol Ann has an extremely strong life force that what draws the ghost to her. It’s like in the TV show medium season one Allison Dubois ( the main character) can not go into hospitals because the ghost know she can see them and are drawn to her.

    2) The giant screaming head that jumps from the closet is the beast aka the devil which Tangina says earlier is shepherding Carol Ann to keep the other ghost from going into the light. There are not 2 different kinds of ghost in the house. This could account for the virtual torturing of the Para-psychologist.

    3) At the end when Tangina says “this house is clear” it is. I always saw it as, the house was clear, but the land was not. So the disturbed cemetery ghost were still drawn to Carol Ann and came back.

    4) To me the film was not uneven or two different films. I saw it as the events increase in intensity as the film goes on. There is a point just after the chairs on the table incident, where the family seems to be attack by flies and they go to the house next door. That is the beginning of the end of the fun haunting and where it moves away from the title the movie.

    Lastly, I think poltergeist is not all that dated. I mean, it didn’t catch the zeitgeist of the country like E.T. but of course these are 2 completely different kinds of movies. poltergeist is a horror film which at the time was projecting Hollywood’s fears of the TV or namely the influx of a little thing called home video.. Finally, “the TV channels going off air” dates it? you may as well say that Casablanca is dated because we are not at war with the Nazis anymore. The question is does it still work as a horror film… .frak yeah!

  13. Whoa… hawesomely well put, Marco.

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