One summer long ago, my friends and I went to Blockbuster every Wednesday afternoon and rented the scariest movies we could find. (Wow … does that make me sound like an old woman? I think “renting a movie” is my generation’s version of “candy used to cost a nickel.”)
So a few of us pre-teen, Catholic school girls would gather in someone’s basement and scream for 90 minutes as “The Exorcist” or “The Shining” played. Then we’d all go home and lie in bed wide-eyed, waiting for the dude from “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” to bust through our bedroom doors and kill us.
I eventually learned my lesson and quit watching scary movies altogether. The screaming and nightmares just became too much.
And then I had kids.
Screaming is frequent in our house, though the scariest things on our TV these days are those creepy whooshing and wheeshing trains. And nightmares? Who needs to go to bed to be terrified? Every moment my eyes are open is a prime opportunity to witness a living nightmare.
What I’m trying to say is that the movie “Poltergeist” is basically a documentary of life with small kids. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a movie about seemingly scary things that happen to a family. As a young girl watching it, it freaked me out. But now, as a momma, I feel the writers were actually trying to portray family life in the 1980s.
For example, the “odd” stuff in “Poltergeist” starts when the mother leaves the kitchen for “just a moment” and returns to find all the cabinet doors open or the kitchen chairs stacked on top of the table.
Sounds about right. Every day, I am amazed at the level of destruction Monster can cause in just the blink of an eye. I will turn around to pick up the baby, and when I turn back, every fork we own will be on the kitchen floor and Monster will be proudly towering over them. Naked. And just a few moments ago, he was sitting – fully clothed – in front of the TV watching Thomas the Creeper – er, Train.
In another scene in “Poltergeist,” a door is opened to the children’s bedroom where toys are flying through the air.
Um, yeah? I get drilled in the head no fewer than five times a day with a flying toy. That family should be glad they could shut a door and contain the rogue teddy bears and dolls.
Perhaps my favorite moment of the movie is when one of the characters is looking at himself in the bathroom mirror and hallucinates that his face is all weird and he claws at his skin until it comes off.
Every. Morning. That is how I feel when I wake up and look at myself every morning. My hair is wild, my eyes are bloodshot, and I feel like I want to tear off my face because I don’t recognize it.
Eventually in the movie, the little girl goes missing and they family determines she is inside the TV or in another dimension or something. And somehow the mother finds her and they both end up on the living room floor covered in slime.
That’s just Tuesday in this house. One day, Monster went missing, and when I eventually found him, he had made and removed a dirty diaper and we both ended up covered in it. Let’s be honest – every mother and child are, at some point, covered in gunk and frightened.
The ending of the movie is the best part. At the very end of “Poltergeist,” the family narrowly escapes the house imploding. Doesn’t that sound wonderful? Multiple times a week, my house is so dirty that I think it would just be easier to start all over with a new one. Why clean a house when you can sell it (or have it implode)?
I’m glad I can look back at that movie and feel at peace with the nightmares it once gave me. Not many people can say they are living their childhood dreams. What a lucky girl I am.