Ever since we first heard the words, “They’re here,” in the first “Poltergeist” trailer, we knew that the movie was going to leave a lasting impression. The “Poltergeist” series continues to leave lasting impressions on both the horror industry and on viewers to this day. What is it, though, that makes the series scare the heck out of us?
Not the Loss of Innocence of Youth
When people usually think about “Poltergeist,” and the series of movies that followed, they usually comment about the horrible things that happened to the children in the movie. I have heard people speak about how those children had to lose their innocence before their time. While this is true, and can scare us, this is not one of the aspects that has been bringing back viewers year after year.
Well before movies like “Urban Legend,” “I Know What You Did Last Summer” and “Final Destination,” “Poltergeist” was using a common urban legend to make us connect with the movie. How many times have we gone to school or worked in buildings that were supposedly built on burial ground or cemeteries? Ever community has this type of urban legend and the movies in this series give us a common ground to ask “What if” questions about the legends.
Inability to Protect Our Children
Even though I have followed the horror industry for years, I never was truly struck by the fear of not being able to protect a child until I had one of my own. My daughter is three years old, and my greatest fear at this point in my life is that something will happen to her that I will not be able to prevent. This is one of the major striking points of “Poltergeist” and the rest of the series. This movie speaks to what scares parents the most and stays in their minds.
Not Being Able to Be Protected
As children, we grow up believing that we are invincible. We know that if problems show up, our parents will be able to figure out a way to help us. In “Poltergeist,” the children quickly realize that their parents cannot always help them. They realize that their superheroes are as helpless as they are. Not only is this something that could scare a child, it could change the child’s perception of reality. That type of instance, in and of itself, is terrifying.
The next time that you find yourself watching “Poltergeist,” or any of the movies in the series,” think about what you have read here. Try to think about any other horror movies that touch upon the last two fears that I mentioned here. You will be hard-pressed to find any. Most Hollywood directors would rather deal with easier fears like the fear of death or of being alone or of ghosts than of a complex fear that incorporates love, defenselessness and selflessness.