1. Poltergeist (1982)

I saw Poltergeist when it first came out in one of the big Leicester Square cinemas. The place was packed, and from the very beginning the audience was laughing at the comic portrayal of suburban American life. As soon as the paranormal stuff began – chairs moving across the floor, etc – we were gasping and cheering. By the time the real horror got going we were screaming, laughing, cheering, the lot. I will never forget the moment – my favourite scene in any horror film ever made – when the mother falls into the muddy swimming pool and is ‘joined’ by a rotting corpse. Every single person in the house leapt to their feet. I’ve never experienced anything like it in a cinema since. Despite some glaring plot problems, which I don’t really care about, Poltergeist has everything that I want in a horror movie and more. Small town: check. Oppressive sense of normality: check. Humour: check, in spades. Supernatural bollocks: check. Sexually attractive cast member: oh yes, Daddy Craig T Nelson. But then there’s the exorcist Tangina, the sinister girl-child Carol-Ann, a scary clown doll, the fantastic device of the haunted room with toys whirling around in it… picture-of-heather-o-x27-rourke-in-poltergeist-large-pictureEverything about Poltergeist is turned up to ten, and if it sacrifices narrative integrity for bludgeoning effect, who gives a shit? The music is fantastic, there are lines that you can use in almost any social situation (‘They’re here!’, ‘This house is clean’ etc) and the special effects are wonderfully analogue. Poltergeist is not only my favourite horror film, it’s one of my top three favourite films in any genre, and I sometimes think that if I could only have one DVD on my desert island, it would be this.

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