The TV People
Poltergeist tells the story of a family, the Freelings, whose home is invaded by spirits that seem to come from the TV set. Initially, it isn’t clear what exactly they want, or what exactly they are. But the youngest Freeling child, Carol Anne, is fascinated by them. When she is literally spirited away—into the TV—to be with them, the family turns to a university team of parapsychologists for help. After a particularly unsettling session with the spirits, the team brings in a psychic, Tangina. Under Tangina’s direction, the family mom, Diane, crosses over to the other side and retrieves her daughter. The house is now supposedly clean of supernatural forces, but the family still thinks it would be best to resettle. The night they pack up to move, the spirits return with a vengeance, not through the TV this time, but from the ground below the house. It turns out the Freelings’ subdivision was built on a cemetery. The company that developed the subdivision told the Freelings that the cemetery had been moved, but really that was just a cosmetic gesture. The tombstones were moved, but the bodies were left behind. And they are not at rest. At the end of the film, the family flees as the house implodes.
The source of the spirits’ anger was a corrupt business decision to build new real estate over old graves and move the headstones.
The ghosts are just mischievous at first, rearranging furniture and bending forks. But soon they do scarier things and finally snatch Carol Anne and imprison her in the spirit realm.
Their daughter Carol Ann began to play with a ghost until she went missing through the television set because what appeared to be a friend turned out to be an enemy, and the more she played with the ghost, the deeper she found herself. They used the TV as their portal. A portal is a door in that it grants access to something or some place. The spirits could not gain access into the home unless someone opened the door for them.
Three parapsychologists fail to rescue her, so her parents hire psychic Tangina Barrons, who explains that an evil Beast is using the girl’s high-powered “life force” to combat the “spectral light” that gives peace and salvation to departed souls. Tangina exorcises the demons and brings Carol Anne back, but the household must face one more fiendish attack before their own peace will be assured.
Some of the movie’s most horrific images, a closet transformed into a gaping maw, skeletons emerging from an unfinished swimming pool, a tree from the front yard attacking the kids’ bedroom—alter the seemingly benign neighborhood into a hazardous place.