40 must-watch movies to consider yourself a film buff

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Poltergeist (1982)

The 1980s horror scene would soon come to be dominated with slasher killers, causing parents around the globe to question whether movies were safe for their children to watch. But that’s not to say old-fashioned horror wasn’t still being attempted. Poltergeist was a throwback to haunted house movies of the ‘40s with a heavy dose of the possession thriller, which came into vogue in the wake of 1973’s The Exorcist.

Poltergeist followed an average suburban family, the Freelings, as they deal with mysterious entities that invade their home and kidnap their youngest daughter, Carol Anne (Heather O’Rourke). The film was said to be based, in part, on an episode of The Twilight Zone watched by Steven Spielberg. Speaking of Spielberg, debate swirls to this day on who actually directed Poltergeist.

Officially the honor went to Texas Chainsaw Massacre helmer Tobe Hooper, with Spielberg acting as assistant due to contractual obligations involving E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial. However there’s a lot of evidence that indicates the roles were reversed, with Hooper acting as a front for Spielberg. Either way, Poltergeist is as creepy as it is heartwarming with a performance by JoBeth Williams that deserved an Academy Award. The story of a family threatened by corporate greed never yielded more unsettling results.

Where to Watch It: Rent it now on Amazon, Apple, Google Play, Vudu, PlayStation, and YouTube.