->''They're here...''
-->-- '''Carol Anne'''

''Poltergeist'' (1982) is a horror movie directed by Creator/TobeHooper and co-written and produced by Creator/StevenSpielberg, chronicling the terrifying paranormal events that surround the Freelings, an ordinary suburban family, whose home is invaded by spirits that show a special interest in their five-year-old daughter, Carol Anne.

It was followed by two sequels: ''Film/PoltergeistIITheOtherSide'' (1986) and ''Film/PoltergeistIII'' (1988).

The franchise is often said to be cursed, because several people associated with it, including stars Dominique Dunne and Creator/HeatherORourke, died prematurely. "The Poltergeist Curse" has been the focus of an E! True Hollywood Story. The first film is also known for persistent rumors that Spielberg directed most of the movie.

This film was ranked as #80 on Bravo's ''Series/OneHundredScariestMovieMoments'' and the Chicago Film Critics Association named it the 20th scariest film ever made.

A remake, co-financed between [[Creator/MetroGoldwynMayer MGM]] and Creator/TwentiethCenturyFox, was released May 22 2015, with Creator/SamRaimi as producer and [[WesternAnimation/MonsterHouse Gil Kenan]] as director.

''The sequels have their own pages at ''Film/PoltergeistIITheOtherSide'' and ''Film/PoltergeistIII.

''If you are looking for a trope about mischievous ghost vandals, you can see it under the "Main" tab.''

!!The 1982 movie and the 2015 reboot/remake contain examples of:


* AntagonistTitle: ''Poltergeist'' is not only the name of the work but also what the family battles against the whole time. It's also a OneWordTitle.
* OneWordTitle: Also an AntagonistTitle.

[[folder:''Poltergeist'' (1982)]]
* AllThereInTheManual: Spielberg gave James Kahn free rein on the novelization, leading to it having ''tons'' of backstory (including Tangina's battles with demons on the spirit plane, a spectral SouthernBelle who protected Carol-Anne on the Other Side, an even ''more'' nightmarish NightmareFodder sequence of Marty in the kitchen, and--perhaps most critically--a more thorough explanation of why the ghostly activity started ''now'' rather than when the family first moved into the house) that was never even hinted at in the film.
* BigWhy: Steve grabs his land-developer boss and screams at him for having relocated the headstones of the cemetery on which his haunted house was built, while ''leaving the bodies''. His rant of accusation ends with a furious double example of this trope.
* BloodyHorror:
** There's the scene where Marty hallucinates ripping his face off in the bathroom, and dripping blood into the sink.
** There's another scene nearing the end of the film, after rescuing the daughter the mother and the daughter come out of the ghost's world, and they're both coated with blood-tinted globs of mucus.
** Robbie has some blood on his face following Carol Anne's disappearance, which is alarmingly gruesome to see on a child.
* CollapsingLair: The ghosts fail to take any of the family back to the other side, so they settle for taking the house instead. The entire house collapses and disappears into the Other Dimension. [[note]]Steven later notes in the sequel that he has a very hard time explaining ''that'' to the insurance company[[/note]]
* CoolGate: The ghosts create one in Carol Anne's closet, with the exit in the living room ceiling.
%%ZCE * CreepyChild: Carol Anne has her moments.
* CreepyDoll: The clown doll was a bit unsettling ''before'' it started grabbing kids, too. Robbie already is scared of it before [[spoiler:it attacks him]], and tries to cover it with a blanket.
%%ZCE * DeadpanSnarker: Steven has his moments.
* DissonantSerenity: After Carol Anne is taken, Steven becomes emotionally catatonic, speaking entirely in monotone, in a kind of HeroicBSOD.
%%ZCE * TheDollEpisode: The clown doll again.
%%ZCE * DownTheRabbitHole: Carol Anne's sojourn to the other side.
* DrugsAreGood: Diane and Steven are shown smoking a marijuana cigarette together and having a great time.
* EvilIsVisceral: Carol Anne's closet turning into a [[WombLevel squidgy, pink, mucous throat-esophagus sort of thing]] with a tentacle reaching out to grab her and pull her in.
* ExtremeMeleeRevenge: The clown comes to life, sneaks up on Robbie and attempts to suffocate him. Robbie overcomes the clown, throws it on the bed, and tears it apart, screaming, "I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU!"
* ForgottenTrope:
** In the 80's, analog television sets would produce a screen of static when not tuned to a specific channel. Nowadays, not so much. (Although many younger people are likely familiar with static [[PopCulturalOsmosis purely because of shows and movies continuing to show static on nonfunctioning televisions long after they stopped working that way]].)
** In the 80s and earlier, networks would stop broadcasting late at night. Younger generations have grown up with 24 hour television, so they won't catch the significance of the television turning to static, then commonly known as [[DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything "dead air"]]...
** Nowadays, hotel televisions are typically tied in place with cables to prevent theft, so the final shot of the father evicting a TV from their hotel room is also dated.
* GettingCrapPastTheRadar: There are some hints during the film, stronger during the second half, that Dana goes on dates with guys and has sex with them, without her parents knowing: just the day after they [[spoiler:recover Carol Anne from the other side of the closet]], Diane tells Dana that later, they'll go to a hotel; when she tells which one, Dana just goes like "oh, yes", and giving some fun smile, looking like she's daydreaming, letting us know that she knows it and that something special for her happened there. Then Dana changes the subject and leaves and we don't know anything of her until the very end of the movie, when she gets out of the car screaming "WHAT'S GOING ON??!!". Look for her neck, to the left and to the right of it, you can see love bites.
* GoIntoTheLight: Tangina tries to convince the ghosts to do this, while having Diane warn her daughter to stay away.
%%ZCE * HappilyMarried: Diane and Steven.
* HearingVoices: Carol Anne first hears the ghosts whispering to her through television static in the television set.
* HairOfGoldHeartOfGold: Carol Anne has long golden hair and she is very kind and innocent with a pure heart (she's actually specifically targeted by the evil spirits because of her pureness).
* HeliumSpeech: Tangina has a very high voice, to the point that it sounds artificial, all the time. It is the actress' normal voice though.
* ImaginaryFriend: The Freelings first think Carol Anne has imaginary friends when they notice her talking to "people" on a TV that's on a static channel. Subverted when it turns out the "TV people" really are ghosts, and real.
* IndianBurialGround: Early in the movie it's briefly mentioned that an Indian burial ground is nearby Cuesta Verde. Later it turns out [[spoiler:that's not related to the hauntings; the real source of that is that Steve's neighborhood was built on top of an improperly relocated Christian cemetery (the bodies are still there)]].
-->'''Steve:''' You son of a bitch! You moved the headstones but you ''left the bodies'', didn't you? You left the bodies and you only moved the headstones! ''YOU ONLY MOVED THE HEADSTONES!! '''WHY?! WHY??!!'''''
* InnocentBlueEyes: Carol Anne has blue eyes and, as explicitly stated in the movie, is especially pure and innocent.
* IronicNurseryTune: The opening theme is a sweet theme sounding like a nursery theme. Soon after the opening scene the movie turns to horror.
* ISeeDeadPeople: Carol Anne can see and hear ghosts and communicate with them, initially through the TV set, later everywhere in the house.
* LastNoteNightmare: The ending theme starts out with children singing... And then, at the very end of the end credits, disturbing laughter is heard.
* LightIsNotGood: The light is good; it's just not good for things that don't need to go there, like the living.
* LockedIntoStrangeness: After rescuing Carol Anne from the Other Side, Diane develops a white streak of hair at each temple. She is reluctant to dye the streaks back, speculating to her older daughter that they look "punk".
* LongHairIsFeminine: Carol Anne's long blonde hair is iconic and she's definitely a girly girl.
* MamaBear: Diane is willing to go through absolute hell to keep her children safe.
-->'''Diane:''' NO! NOT MY BABIES!!!'''''
* MoodWhiplash: From a horrific scene of exploding raw steak, maggoty chicken and Marty ''tearing his own face off'' ([[spoiler:he's hallucinating]]), we segue into a near-mystical manifestation of gracefully-glowing light. [[spoiler:Justified when it's revealed that there's an insanely-malign ghost sharing the house with a bunch of inoffensive/trapped ones.]]
* MonsterClown: A clown doll turn evil and attacks Robbie, [[spoiler:but this is just the ghosts' distraction in order to kidnap Carol Anne.]]
* NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast: The demon who is the main antagonist is first referred to as only "The Beast".
* NoTellMotel: The motel the family heads to at the end of the film has a reputation for being used to fool around, seeing how Dana chuckles saying "I know that place..." when Diane mentions it.
* {{Novelization}}: The story of the movie was written into a novel by James Kahn.
* OffscreenRealityWarp: The ghosts demonstrate their "Mad Skillz" at chair stacking during a brief period when the camera is not on them.
%%ZCE * OrpheanRescue: For Carol Anne.
* OurGhostsAreDifferent: The "angry at the living" type.
** {{Poltergeist}}: ...manifesting like this.
%%ZCE * PeekABooCorpse: Steve has a few things to say to his realtor about his new neighbors.
* RapunzelHair: Carol Anne's hair reaches at least down to her waist, sometimes it appears even longer.
* RedHerring: When characters tell there's an Indian burial ground near the Freelings' house, the viewer (and probably the characters themselves, In Universe) would think that that would be the source of the ghostly disturbances. But it turns out it has nothing to do with anything.
* SayMyName: CAROL ANNE! CAROL ANNE! [[RuleOfThree CAROL ANNE!]] Her name is very frequently called or shouted. Probably justifiable because she's missing ''in her own house'' during most of the movie, and her parents want her to come back.
%%ZCE* SoundtrackDissonance
* ShoutOut: While Diane and Steven are in bed, we see they are watching the film "A Guy Named Joe." This is a movie from 1943 where a dead Air Force pilot comes back to Earth as a ghost to pass his knowledge onto an up and coming rookie. Spielberg would go on to remake this film later in his career under the title "Always."
* SkunkStripe: After [[spoiler:going to the Other Side to rescue Carol Anne]], Diane, who's naturally brown-haired, has a streak of white hair at her temple.
* SnowyScreenOfDeath: The ghosts first communicate with Carol Anne through an untuned television set.
* ShooOutTheClowns: The first twenty minutes of this film are very light-hearted, like when Steve and his neighbor and dueling with their remotes. After Carol Ann utters "They're here..." the film becomes considerably darker. The neighbors later reappear in a scene where Steven and Diane go to ask them if they experience any "disturbances" too (to which the neighbors look at them like they're crazy, and which is played for laughs). Once the film turns really dark, the neighbors aren't shown or mentioned again.
* TheSoulsaver: The psychic Tangina helps a group of [[spoiler:friendly yet lonely]] ghosts (lost souls) trapped in the astral plane go into the Light.
* TearOffYourFace: The psychic's assistant, Marty, hallucinates that he pulls off his own face.
* ThirdActStupidity: Steven and Diane Freeling act with reasonable intelligence throughout most of the movie--not perfectly, but then they didn't have an idea that it could be so dangerous. However, after managing to rescue Carol Anne from a demonic ghost, they decide that Diane, Robbie and Carol Anne will stay in the house overnight. Not only that, but they let Robbie and Carol Anne stay alone in the same room that Carol Anne was originally stolen from. Would you take that kind of risk with ''your'' kids?
** Well, in fairness, Tangina HAD said that the house was "clean". Little did she know...
* TrueBlueFemininity: Carol Anne's pajamas are blue and very feminine.
%%ZCE * VertigoEffect: Helloooo, stretchy hallway of doom...
* WholePlotReference: To "Little Girl Lost", an episode of ''Series/TheTwilightZone''.
* TertiarySexualCharacteristics: Carol Anne's very feminine frilly blue pajamas trimmed with satin ribbons.
* WhenTreesAttack: The tree near the Freelings' house turns evil and its branches go through the kid's window to take and attack Robbie.
* YourPrincessIsInAnotherCastle: After [[spoiler:getting back Carol Anne from the Other Side]], Tangina exclaims confidently "This house is clean." [[spoiler:Nope--it's regrouping... and it's ''pissed''...]]

[[folder:''Poltergeist'' (2015)]]
* AmicableExes: Brooke and Carrigan.
* AscendedExtra: He's not really an extra, but Griffin, the counterpart of Robbie from the original film series, is essentially the reboot's main protagonist and [[TheHero hero]]. He has the most focus of the Bowens, and is actually the one who [[spoiler:saves Maddie from the other dimension]], as opposed to the original's Diane (the counterpart of the reboot's Amy).
* BigBrotherInstinct: Griffin to Maddie, especially after [[MyGreatestFailure leaving her to guard herself]] [[spoiler:which causes her to be taken to the other dimension.]] While the others are busy offering themselves to [[spoiler:go to the other dimension and become Maddie's guide]], Griffin wastes no time to do it himself. His mom is apparently very supportive of him to have this instinct, too.
--> '''Amy''': Be brave. If you're scared, Maddie's going to be scared too. You're her big brother. You have to be an example to her.
* BigSisterBully: Kendra is initially this to Griffin and Maddie (or at least just Griffin). [[CharacterDevelopment She softens up throughout the film due to all they go through]].
* CassandraTruth: Griffin's pleas about the poltergeists are denied all the time. At least until [[spoiler:Kendra experiences it first-hand and Maddie goes missing.]]
* ChekhovsGun: Two of the gifts the dad buys (the cell phone and the camera drone) play a role detecting the ghosts and then Maddie, respectively.
* ChekhovsGunman: Kendra is a fan of Carrigan Burke, an occultist and the host of a paranormal investigation reality show. Carrigan himself is later called by Brooke to help rescue [[spoiler:Maddie]].
* CreepyDoll: In all its terrifying glory. And there's a ''closet full of them''.
* DysfunctionJunction: The Bowens are almost heading to this territory at the start, due to Eric losing his job while continuously preventing Amy from seeking job so she can write a novel. Losing a job means that the family have to move in to a lower-class neighborhood that their children dislike. Ironically, the problem that should have been the worst influence on the relationship, the poltergeists, actually ends up making them reconcile and team up to repel it, though [[spoiler:Maddie's disappearance]] might have something to do with it, too.
* EldritchLocation: [[spoiler:The other dimension.]]
* EverybodyLives: Should be no surprise, since the series is known for this trope despite being a high-end horror fiction.
* HeroicSacrifice: [[spoiler:Knowing that the Bowens will always be hunted by the spirits because of their attraction to Maddie, Carrigan ends up deciding to enter the other dimension to guide them to the light instead. However, the ending implies that he survives, which TheStinger outright confirms.]]
* HereWeGoAgain: The house the Bowens are looking into at the end gives off the same vibe as their previous haunted house, complete with ominous tree. [[spoiler:They respond by driving off before the realtor has a chance to finish her sales pitch.]]
* ImYourBiggestFan: Kendra and Boyd say some variation of this while meeting with their favorite idol, Carrigan. He just brushes it off.
* IfWeGetThroughThis: Surprisingly subverted. Carrigan promises Griffin to reveal how he got the scar on his forehead once Maddie is rescued and if Griffin survive. Since all of them make it through the night, ''Poltergeist'' style, Griffin does indeed reveal how he got that: [[spoiler:it's completely mundane and not related to the supernatural at all.]]
* IWillFindYou: All of the Bowens [[spoiler:after Maddie's gone]] will do everything to have [[spoiler:her]] back. Exemplified best with Griffin when he denies Boyd's suggestion to use the paranormal activity for profit.
--> '''Griffin:''' I just want to have [[spoiler:my sister]] back.
* LaymansTerms: Not stated outright, but Brooke's TechnoBabble explanation about the other dimension definitely doesn't suit Kendra and Griffin well. Sophie ends up having to explain it through papers.
* ManlyTears: "I don't care about that whole supernatural thing. I just want to have my daughter back." Well said, Eric, well said.
* MiddleChildSyndrome: Griffin thinks he has this complex. He's not old enough to be given responsibilites like Kendra, and he's not young enough to warrant extra attention like Maddie. Plus, [[OutnumberedSibling he's the only son of the trio]].
* MommasBoy: A positive example. It's obvious that out of all her children, Amy adores Griffin the most, probably because he's the only boy.
* NeverGotToSayGoodbye: Specifically averted. Because he's unsure whether he will [[spoiler:survive going to the other dimension]], Carrigan says this to Brooke beforehand. [[spoiler:Fortunately, he survives.]]
* PleaseDontLeaveMe: Said ''ad verbatim'' by Maddie to Griffin. He regrets it later, since that's [[spoiler:the last words he heard before Maddie goes to the other dimension.]]
* PrimalScene: Griffin walks in while his mom is lying half-dressed on bed and his dad undoing his trousers (but not underwear, thankfully).
* TheRemake: With some refreshing change in details.
* SatelliteCharacter: Out of the three members of the Department of Paranormal Research, Sophie stands out the least, since she barely gets lines other than those related to explaining the paranormal thing. Brooke gets the distinction as leader and ex-wife of Carrigan, and Boyd is Carrigan's fan and even has a certain independent opinion that establishes his money-hungry nature, but Sophie's defining trait is being an investigator and nothing more. It is particularly significant since she's also the TokenMinority of the film.
* ScrewThisImOuttaHere: Rather than tempt fate and spend the night in their "cleaned" house, the Bowens pack up what they can [[spoiler:after they retrieve Maddie from the other side]] and get the hell out of Dodge [[spoiler:only to find the ghosts haven't been exorcised and really want their guide back.]]
* SpoonBending: When the family discovers that all of their cutlery has been distorted at the beginning of the movie, that is their (and the viewer's) first clue that the house is being haunted. Of course, everything gets downhill from there.
* {{Squee}}: Kendra ''and'' Boyd, but especially Kendra, when Brooke calls in Carrigan. If you look closely in some scenes where Kendra is not the focus, [[FunnyBackgroundEvent you can see that she's locked in a perpetual smile while looking at Carrigan]].
* StayInTheKitchen: Not quite, but Eric disapproves of Amy seeking a job so she can pursue her dream: writing a novel.
* TheStinger: Confirms that [[spoiler:Carrigan does indeed survive after having entered the other dimension.]]
* SupernaturalProofFather: It takes some time to convince Eric that ''nothing'' makes sense in the house, and the poltergeists are real.
* TokenMinority: The only non-white person in the film who has a major role is Sophie, a member of Brooke's Department of Paranormal Research, who is black. There's also Kendra's BlackBestFriend, Lauren, but she has a very minor role and only appears in webcam video.
* TwoFacedAside: Eric assures his wife that Carrigan's plan will work. As soon as she's left the room, he asks "Are you sure this will work?"
* WhamLine: After they flee their house, Kendra gets Carrigan to say his CatchPhrase that the house is clean. Then...
--> '''Kendra:''' I can't believe he said it. "This house is clean."\\
[[spoiler:'''Maddie:''' But it's not.]]
* WorkingWithTheEx: Brooke and Carrigan were formerly married, but separated because Brooke wanted to pursue formal education. They remain on good professional terms, though.