!!The original
* SugarWiki/AwesomeMusic: AwesomeMusic/JerryGoldsmith strikes again.
* CompleteMonster: Reverend Henry Kane was the insane leader of a utopian {{cult}} in the early 19th century who led his "flock" into an underground cavern under the premise that the world was about to end, but in actuality, his only intention was to harvest their souls for his own power. As a ghost, he absorbed the energy from his followers, which fused with the evil in his heart and [[EvilMakesYouMonstrous turned him into a monstrous apparition]]--a demon called "The Beast". When the Freeling family moves into the home built where the cavern once was, Kane tries to abduct the young Carol Anne and bring her to the realm of the dead, dubbed the "Other Side," where he could use her to attract more souls for his energy. In ''Film/PoltergeistIITheOtherSide'', he keeps on tormenting the Freelings, possessing Steven's body in order to rape Diane while taking a proactive role in psychologically and physically tormenting the family as he seeks to take Carol Anne. At the end of ''Film/PoltergeistIII'', Kane apparently abandons his pursuit of the Freelings and accepts the mystic Tangina's offer to show him into the light, but the film ends with a flash of lightning and Kane's demonic laughter, showing his supposed redemption as a sham.
* DirectorDisplacement: It's directed by Creator/TobeHooper, not Creator/StevenSpielberg.
** Depending on which actor you ask. Zelda Rubinstein claims that Spielberg directly directed her scenes, other lead actors gave accounts that differed on who did what. It also helps that Spielberg was not only the producer, but he wrote the story and handled the storyboards.
* FetishRetardant:
** The last twenty minutes of the film feature Jobeth Williams being thrown around in her panties and a football jersey, which keeps getting pulled up; then running outside and getting muddy when she falls into the pool; then a bunch of coffins rise from the ground, and their corpses, actual corpses mind you, fall out turning the thing into a bowl of dead guy soup.
** The scene with the football jersey becomes this when you realize that it is not just a cheap joke, but that the Poltergeist is trying to rape her.
* FunnyAneurysmMoment: There are several involving Heather O'Rourke and Dominique Dunne.
** The canary-burial scene's a lot grimmer when you consider that two of the three mourners will be dead in a few years.
** One poster atop a little boy's bed says "1988 [=SuperBowl=] XXII", which is kind of eerie when you realize that [[http://www.cracked.com/article_19927_6-movies-that-predicted-disasters-with-eerie-accuracy.html this was almost the exact date that the film's star, Heather O'Rourke, died]].
* HarsherInHindsight: An odd meta-example. The scene near the end where an invisible force pulls up the mother's night-shirt and exposes her panties gets laughs from kids. However when seen as an adult, you realize that the poltergeist is attempting to rape her. (In the screenplay it actually does).
* MemeticMutation: [[TemptingFate "This house is clean."]]
* {{Moe}}:
** Carol Anne is just adorable.
** Madison from the remake.
* {{Narm}}:
** Steve's angry outburst towards his boss at the end when [[spoiler: the corpses of the cemetery their house was built in start bursting from the ground during the final meltdown, revealing that he'd only moved the headstones and left the bodies exactly where they were]] is rendered unintentionally funny by Craig T. Nelson's hysterical delivery:
---> "You only moved the headstones! WHYYYY?!! WHYYYYY?!!"
** The ''constant'' screaming at the end can veer off into this for some viewers.
** When Steve/Nelson has packed his family into their car to flee the self-destructing house, he frantically paws at his rear pockets looking for his car keys while the camera focuses on his butt, making it look for about two seconds that Steve has decided to do a brief booty dance.
** From the 2015 remake: when Amy first hears Maddie from The Other Side, and says to her "I miss you so so so so so so so much"... It's the over-repetition of about a dozen "so"'s combined with her performance that makes it funny instead of dramatic.
* NarmCharm: Tangina's [[HeliumSpeech voice]] is funny at first, but then you get used to it.
%%* NauseaFuel
%%* ParanoiaFuel: The chairs. Good GOD, the chairs.
* SpecialEffectFailure:
** The power of the stacked chairs scene is ruined once you see the crewmen in the chrome stacking them.
** Marty's face is clearly made of rubber when he's pulling the skin off his face.
** When the house implodes and the neighbors watch with the Freelings, Only Teague casts a shadow.
** The football game shown on the TV is pre-recorded, as it moves in slow motion.
* WhatDoYouMeanItsNotForKids: Yup. Written by the same dude who did ''Film/ETTheExtraTerrestrial''. And, you know... ''Film/{{Jaws}}''.
** To make things even more interesting, according to David Hughes' ''The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies Never Made'', originally ''E.T.'' and ''Poltergeist'' were one film, the never-produced ''Night Skies''. The mind boggles.
** Actually, the dude who directed the first two ''Franchise/TheTexasChainsawMassacre'' films directed this... though people have their theories about who directed what.

!!The remake
* ItsTheSameNowItSucks: An incredibly common criticism of the remake; it seems to have been made with little purpose but to cash in on the ''Poltergeist'' name, so it just rehashes the original and calls it a day.
%%* {{Moe}}: Madison.
* ToughActToFollow: The general opinion of the remake. While it's, at best, [[SoOkayItsAverage a decent movie]] on its on merits, it's in the shadow of a classic.