The Iconic ‘Poltergeist’ Clown Doll Still Triggers Nightmares [Scene Screams]

The stressed spirit tormenting the Freeling house in 1982’s Poltergeist makes use of each scare tactic imaginable in its makes an attempt to take hold of younger Carol Anne Freeling (Heather O’Rourke). That incorporates using each and every circle of relatives member’s worst fears towards them and, in flip, ours. Director Tobe Hooper tackled two phobias without delay when the poltergeist goals Robbie (Oliver Robins), ushering within the climax with the enduring, nightmare-inducing assault by means of the clown doll.

Diane (JoBeth Williams) and Steve Freeling (Craig T. Nelson) reside the idyllic suburban existence in a brand new deliberate neighborhood with their 3 youngsters. That adjustments when paranormal job plagues their house in a while after breaking floor on a yard swimming pool. What starts as benign ramps as much as a menacing stage rapid till Carol Anne will get abducted by means of a malevolent entity dubbed the Beast. Poltergeist builds the fear and stakes till non secular medium Tangina (Zelda Rubinstein) steps in and guides the Freelings via a frightening means of getting into the spirit realm to retrieve their daughter. Steve just about derails the harmful challenge out of concern for his spouse and daughter, however Diane succeeds.

All of the series appears like a climax, from the slime-coated spectacle of crossing over and again to the emotional payoff of Carol Anne’s go back. Simply because the Freelings’ joyous tears dry, their sighs of reduction fade they usually try to resume their quiet existence, the Beast violently pulls the rug out from below us all.

Poltergeist clown

Diane, by myself in the home with Carol Anne and Robbie, attracts herself a bathtub as the home settles down for the evening. Robbie nestles down below his covers, however now not sooner than giving the ghastly grinning clown doll on the foot of his mattress one final apprehensive look. He tries to hide it with a jacket and misses, then tamps down his concern by means of rolling over and ignoring it. That’s when a creak catches his consideration. The clown’s chair is empty. Hooper stretches out the stress right here to an insufferable stage as Robbie slowly friends round his mattress and beneath it. The stress explodes when Robbie sits again as much as to find the clown looking forward to him, the place it then elongates its palms to coil round his neck and drag him below the mattress. It’s the sounding alarm that indicators the Beast’s ultimate onslaught to thieve Carol Anne for just right.

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What makes this Poltergeist scene so potent isn’t simply the eerie design of the clown doll, how its face grows extra gruesome and toothsome, or the way in which Hooper levels this scare. It’s the way in which the filmmaker establishes Robbie’s concern of the doll very early on within the movie, biding his time till the correct second the place the payoff will reach most affect. In one of the crucial first scenes with Robbie, his trepidation towards the doll is plain as he covers its watchful gaze sooner than mattress. Hooper guarantees the viewer by no means wholly forgets in regards to the doll’s life all over, protecting it within the body when the digital camera enters Robbie and Carol Anne’s bed room.

Poltergeist clown doll

Even because the Beast hurls visions of rotting flesh or ghostly pictures upon the circle of relatives, the doll stays an inanimate object. It’s a passive reminder of Robbie’s concern that lulls the viewer right into a distracted complacency. Then comes the false climax. The emotional reduction of the Freeling reunion appears like closure with simplest an uplifting epilogue closing. Tangina did, in spite of everything, proclaim the home as cleansed of evil. By the point the doll does spring to existence, we’re now not wholly ready.

Whilst Robbie struggles towards the coiling clown, Diane faces a gauntlet of horror to race again to her youngsters because the Beast whips up a magical hurricane. That the clown doll’s assault serves as the place to begin simplest provides to its energy.

Of the entire unforgettable scares and moments in Poltergeist, the clown doll stands aside for the way Hooper patiently makes use of it. It’s a chilling demonstration of the Beast’s tactic for the usage of anyone’s worst fears towards them and the way lengthy it’s prepared to attend. Triggering each pediophobia and coulrophobia without delay guarantees its perpetual nightmare gas.


Scene Screams is a routine column that spotlights the scenes in horror that make us scream, whether or not via concern, laughter, or tears. It examines essentially the most memorable, and regularly scariest, scenes in horror and what it’s about them that makes them get below our pores and skin. 

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