|Year Of Production||1982|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Tobe Hooper|
Warner Home Video
Craig T. Nelson
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Don't you hate it when you realize that things which terrified you as a child aren't frightening anymore? Dr. Who. The closet. Broccoli. And Poltergeist.
Looking at the film in the harsh light of adulthood, I'm struck by how reminiscent of a Steven Spielberg film it is, despite being ostensibly directed by Texas Chainsaw Massacre's Tobe Hooper. The camera angles, the touches of light humour, the omnipresent kids and dogs. Spielberg may not have given a direct command on set, but this is his movie in everything but name. And, to give it its due, it's a great ride.
The plot revolves around the Freeling family, successful from father Steve's real estate career. In fact, he's responsible for selling most of the properties in their suburban nightmare of a neighbourhood. Unfortunately for the Freelings, something decidedly supernatural has taken an interest in their daughter, Carol Anne. At first the only evidence is bent utensils, chairs moving by themselves and other reasonably harmless occurrences, but when Carol Anne suddenly vanishes into the TV set, her family are forced to confront the poltergeist on its own turf. Cue: fun.
While a little tense at times with a couple of good shocks, this film is never mean-spirited (sorry). On release, Spielberg managed to procure a PG rating in the States, and I'd concur with that. Even today, the special effects (courtesy of ILM) are stunning, and the storyline and performances are winning. I just wish I could get that 12-year-old-huddled-under-the-covers feeling back.
Speaking of covers, compared to the US release, the R4 artwork looks like a cheap pirate job.
This transfer was pretty much as I would have expected for a film of this era.
The original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 is preserved, and with 16x9 enhancement to boot.
Sharpness is good but not outstanding, and noise and grain are low in level. Blacks are good and solid, and shadows are retained as far as the film stock used would allow. While I never felt like I was missing information while watching, I don't consider this a reference transfer simply due to the quality of the original film stock.
Colour is solid, well saturated and vibrant. The picture looks reasonably 'filmic'.
I saw no MPEG artefacts, very mild and isolated aliasing and no significant film artefacts considering the age of the film.
The disc contains three Dolby Digital audio tracks, English and French 2.0 surround-encoded and Italian 1.0. I listened exclusively to the original English track.
Dialogue is clear and generally natural, and a good system should reproduce it easily at all times. At one point JoBeth Williams shouts loudly, driving the soundtrack into mild distortion, but I would expect that to be a source problem, rather than a flaw with the transfer. There are some dodgy elements in the mix, though. The barks of the Freeling's dog, for example, sound very flat and phoney through my reference system.
Audio sync was as good as you'd expect with a major Hollywood release, which is to say, excellent!
The score is by Jerry Goldsmith, and is very Spielbergian. Trust me, when you hear it, you'll understand. Although Spielberg is generally associated with John Williams, Goldsmith proves an admirable substitute, with a score that's equal parts light and menace. The orchestra fills as much of the soundstage as a Pro-Logic mix physically can, and is well recorded.
The surrounds are used very aggressively at times, although the bandwidth and dynamic limitations that a Pro-Logic mix impose mean that you're never as immersed as you would have been with a discrete mix. In particular, the mono rear channel detracts from a few key scenes later in the film.
The LFE channel is used sparingly but effectively with some decent rumblings. It's a long way from a window-shaker, but the soundtrack doesn't sound lightweight.
|Surround Channel Use|
There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Reports are that the US disc is no longer available, and the rumour is that a special edition is in the works. If you're a fan, I'd be inclined to wait and see if that's true.
The video quality is probably as good as you can expect given the age of the film.
The audio quality is decent, but far short of what we should have had. Big smacks to Warner for not providing the 6-channel soundtrack.
There are no extras.
|DVD||Pioneer 103S DVD-ROM with Hollywood Plus decoder card, using S-Video output|
|Display||Mitsubishi DiVA (78cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver.|
|Speakers||Front L/R: Richter Excalibur SE, Centre: Richter Unicorn Mk 2, Surrounds: Richter Hydras|