Sunday, August 29, 2010

Poltergeist Plot Holes

In case you haven't noticed yet, I have named Poltergeist as this Month's Movie of the Month. What is Movie of the Month? I'm glad you asked. Each month I'll pick a movie that I have a secret or not so secret affection for. Throughout the month will be special posts devoted to that movie and well, that's really it. Poltergeist month may run a bit into September, since I didn't act on this idea until halfway through the month but that's just something you'll have to handle. To catch up on all things Poltergeist at the HD click here.

In keeping with this month's glorious choice, I have watched Poltergeist maybe 5 times this month alone and while doing so I have noticed a few things that bother me: plot holes. To be very clear, these plot holes do not affect my adoration for Poltergeist. Poltergeist is perhaps my 2nd or 3rd favorite horror movie of all time (I haven't worked out the details) but one cannot ignore the confusion that ensues when Tangina tells us one thing, and then proceeds to do a different thing. I mean, she's suppose to be the clairvoyant voice of reason! Who do I trust if I can't trust Tangina?

Why did Tweety have to wait for a school day?

I thought about this one recently. Judging by Robbie's unsympathetic reaction about Tweety's death and wanting to dig it up to see the bones--I'm guessing Tweety was primarily Carol Anne's bird. In the beginning of the film, Diane finds a dead Tweety and says, "Tweety, couldn't you have waited for a school day?" But the big question is---why? The next day is Monday, and Robbie and Dana go to school, but Carol Anne stays home. So she doesn't go to school? But wait! Thanks to Teague we know that she does go to school, because somebody else's daughter is in the same nursery class. So wait a minute...why wasn't she in school on that Monday? NOTHING MAKES SENSE ANYMORE. I mean I guess maybe nursery school doesn't happen on Mondays or maybe they just decided she needed a day off. Did they keep her home because she was up late and talking to the TV again? What gives?

Where was Carol Anne playing?

When Dr. Lesh asks Diane where Carol Anne was playing, Diane dreamily replies "In her bedroom closet". Since we got a first hand look at the moment of Carol Anne's departure we know she wasn't playing anywhere-- she was in her bed. IMDB refers to this plot hole as one of those "intentional" mistakes made by the filmmakers which they attribute to Diane not having been there at the time of abduction. Still, if Diane and Steven weren't there they still knew that when Robbie was taken by the tree--both kids were in their beds as they were supposed to be sleeping. No one was playing anywhere. And by the way--who the hell plays in their closet? Granted, I may have played in mine because it was a big closet, BUT it just seems so out of the ordinary to claim that she was playing in her closet when she clearly wasn't. Intentional mistake my butt.

We keep the room locked at all times.

When Steven is showing Dr. Lesh and her assistants the house, he lets them know that they keep the door to Carol Anne's room closed and locked at all times. Later on he tells them that the spirits will not let them enter the room at all. Steven is shown with a ring of keys opening the door to Carol Anne and Robbie's room where they find as you know, the children's toys gallivanting around. Later on, when Diane is in the house alone and folding towels or something, she knocks softly on Carol Anne's door and says, "Hello?". She then puts her hand on the door knob and opens it freely.

Locked my ass.

She will only hear her mother's voice.

This one always gets me because she says it plain and simple. Tangina tells the lengthy story of what is going on on the other side, where Carol Anne is currently detained. Through all the talk about spirits, and the light, and whatever else goes on over there, Tangina quite nicely concludes with; "And she will only hear her mother's voice". Isn't that lovely. Then, perhaps a few minutes after this whole speech, Carol Anne is being held back by "the Beast", and Tangina demands whichever parent Carol Anne feels most threatened by to get her to speak. Steven is the victor and after promising a real spanking from both parents, Carol Anne cries out. Wait a minute Tangina, you said she could only hear her mother's voice??? What the frick.

This house is clean? Oh really?

Being that Tangina is all psychic and wise and everything, one would think that she would have still felt the ever foreboding presence of the rightly named Beast, still lurking on the other side. She said it herself, that the Beast's presence was extremely strong, strong enough to punch a whole into our world and take a living human back with him. Why then, would she assume that by simply rescuing Carol Anne, and telling the normal souls to cross over that the Beast would also be gone? It just doesn't add up. Clearly this beast isn't a normal spirit, it's a BEAST. Why on earth would she randomly think the house was clean just from some shoddy rescuing business that practically went down the tubes when Steven messed everything up? Shit's whack yo. Don't even get me started on Steven's brilliant idea to let the family stay while he took 5 years tying up loose ends at the office...

Dead bodies are buried how many feet underground?

The answer is 6 feet. Most pools happen to be about that deep in the deep end---except the Freelings are hoping to have a 3 meter board attached. Since Steven lets us know that 3 meters is 10 feet, clearly the deep end in the Freelings pool will be a little bit deeper than 6 feet. So when Bruno and his bulldozer are busy digging up the pool, isn't it a little funny that they don't run into any graves?

At the film's conclusion dead bodies in coffins are popping up all over the place. By that information, it's a pretty safe bet that the backyard would be riddled with coffins. Yes, skeletons eventually pop up in the swimming pool, but that means they were like 11 feet under the ground--and that ain't right. I call shenanigans. IMDB also clues us in on the fact that a community with all those houses, basements and foundations would allow for the bodies to be found much sooner than they were. Definite shenanigans.

You win-- a brand new headboard!!

When Carol Anne is first taken into the closet, she grips onto her bed's headboard for dear life. In doing so, the board actually rips apart--

Carol Anne even takes a piece of it with her into the closet as she floats away.

Later at the end of the film, Carol Anne and Robbie are shown getting ready for bed when the closet intestines come back to life and tries to suck them back in. Carol Anne is sitting in her bed---the head board intact!

Sure maybe it's less of a plot hole and more of a blooper---but I demand to know just when they had time to buy Carol Anne a brand new bed, in the time span of a day. It's not like head boards are you know...important. I'm also curious to know why they would keep all those previously possessed toys. Obviously the first thing a normal person would do is throw the clown doll out immediately.

And I should mention I would do that even if it wasn't possessed.


Thomas Duke said...

As it happens, I just watched this on blu-ray a few nights ago. Looks pretty damn good. By the way, that clown and Ronald McDonald are known associates. It is rumored that they control an underground sex trade involving young boys. One more reason to say no to the Big Mac, I say.

The Mike said...

I deem this post Hamster bait. :)

It's also awesome. I never noticed the closet thing, but I played in mine all the time too.

Michele (TheGirlWhoLovesHorror) said...

That line Diane says about Carol Anne playing in her closet has always bugged me, for the same reasons you said! Thought I was just being picky.

bird said...

Your recent posts on Poltergeist has made me want to rewatch it. But now you have ruined it for me! jerkhead!

I heard of your blog from The Scarening Podcast. It's a really great blog!

That fucking clown doll still creeps me out.

Andre Dumas said...

True story all clowns are in cahoots with Ronald McDonald. No question.

Thanks bird, what do you mean I ruined it?! I ruined nothing, Poltergeist is still one of the best films in existence!!

Anonymous said...

Ok, I've got to clarify this. I grew up in the 70's and 80's. Carol Anne is referring to a school day, and is in nursery school(AKA preschool). Back in the 70's and early 80's, preschool was not everyday. Some classes were Monday and Wednesday, and some Tuesday and Thursday. Fridays were almost always off. I would just assume she meant a day in which she, herself, had class. Also, assuming she went to the Tues/Thurs group. This was done to alleviate class overcrowding, so they wouldn't have too many to one teacher. Wish they'd do this now.

Lela Richmond said...

Re: the bird. Perhaps Carol Anne's nursery school does one of those two-sessions-a-day schedules and she attends the afternoon session. Or, ya know, not.

Andre Dumas said...

Ah excellent, thanks for clarifying LJ! I grew up in the 80s but my preschool was morning only until 12. I think that's a better method than the every other day thing, you know, gets em prepared for routine and stuff when they enter Kindergarten.

MissSardonicus said...

Andre, where were you during the height of my Poltergeist obsession in sixth grade?!!?

Clearly the only solution is to become obsessed with Poltergeist again. Can you extend it to Movie Of The Year?

I went to preschool in the late 80's and had to go every day in the morning. Wish I'd known there was a two-days-a-week alternative!

Anonymous said...

My question is what kind of parent busy such a horrific clown doll for their child? I think that constitutes child abuse.

Zakkaari said...

I always thought the "why didn't you wait for a school day' line was about "Mom" having to deal with the dead bird while the kids were around.

If it had happened while the kids were at school it would have been far easier for her to dispose of Tweety's body then come up with a 'Little white lie' to spare Carol Annes feelings.

That was always my take on it, anyways.

Polterfan said...

all of these plot holes have always crossed my mind, except the school day - and its also one of my favorite movies. I always wanted to know what was up with the guy riding the kids bike with beers in the beginning. Also the bad edit when they're talking with their neighbors after the first incident - its a really bad cut - how did that make the final?

hugsie said...

What about when Craig t is talking to the parapsychology people. He says his wife is 31 and his oldest daughter is 16. Is the oldest not suppose to be the moms child or did she have her when she was 15 lol

RokkoRokko said...

Poltergeist is one of my Fav horror / supernatural movies and I have noted 1 thing in all the reviews I have read...

..That NO-ONE has picked up on "the Beast" image guarding the door in the final sequences is spindly... and BIRD-LIKE and is the recently deceased TWEETY bird pet that died.

The Tweety Death and Burial is significant due to the time alloted it so it must have relevance and it has ALWAYS been obvious to me that the "Beast" image is from Tweety.

I can't figure how NO-ONE else has picked up on what has always been obvious to me.

There is not even a single comment anywhere, until I post this now.

Barry Jay said...

great post. I will add that there's a jump/cut from the scene where Diane shows Steve the sliding kitchen chair, to their visit to the neighbors -- definitely an editing mistake and pretty glaring one -- wonder why they never fixed that.

RokkoRokko said...

Yeah, Barry, I get you on that. It always jarred me too

I suspect it was scripted that way but it just doesn't work right for me.