When I was a kid I stayed up late one night and watched Poltergeist with my older brothers. I was only twelve, and that isn’t exactly a kid’s movie, but it wasn’t scary at all with those two cracking jokes every millisecond. I thought it was a cool movie and bragged at school about how I watched Poltergeist and wasn’t spooked. Not even a little. A few weeks later a friend of mine was having a slumber party and rented Poltergeist 2 based on my recommendation. That movie scared the living shit out of me.
I assume slumber parties run about the same everywhere, but for the uninitiated, girl slumber parties border on the occult. In a good way. The experience gets pretty intense. In mid-Michigan in the 1990’s, a sleepover followed this set of steps:
- Play an adult supervised group game, like a treasure hunt around the house
- Drink a ton of soda/eat tons of pizza and candy
- Talk and mess around until your friends’ parents go to bed
- Play “Light as a feather, stiff as a board”
- Play “Bloody Mary”
- Sit in a circle and sing/perform “Concentrate” in unison
- Play Truth or Dare
- Watch a scary movie
After following those steps we would all be in an altered, excited state. It was fantastic.
At my friend’s slumber party we completed numbers 1-7, and then she put on Poltergeist 2. She didn’t scare easily and thought the movie was funny, but I was scared to the point that I wanted to leave the room but was terrified of leaving said room. I don’t remember much about it, and in the twenty years since then I’ve refused to ever watch even a second of it. My recollection is probably inaccurate, but here is what I remember:
The family from Poltergeist 1 is in a new home. The little girl is clearly traumatized and is drawing freaky pictures. Then a scraggly old man in a black suit starts coming around and is a total asshole to them. He was either trying to kill them or kidnap the little girl. I have no idea. He was essentially the leader of a group of dead people that lived underground, and he was practically unstoppable. No matter what the family did, he would attack them. At one point he even turned himself into the worm at the bottom of a tequila bottle and waited for someone to drink him so that he could possess their body.
One scene in particular spooked me where the Dead People Leader went to the front door and chatted up one of the family members. While he talked to her, he was also sending horrible visions to people in the house. Seeing that go down once would have been bad enough, but my friend really enjoyed how scared we all were and kept coming up with reasons to rewind the tape.
The first time she said she missed what he said at the beginning and rewound it. Then halfway through the second viewing she got up to make popcorn, then acted surprised she missed it again, and rewound it. Then she rewound it a third time, I don’t think she even gave a reason, and the girl next to me was so terrified that she dug her fingernails into my arm.
Chances are that if I rewatched the movie it would be laughable, but I’ll never know for sure. I never want to see a second of that movie again. That was the scariest movie I ever saw.