In a horror movie franchise, often times, the opening installment is not the beginning of the story. The franchises often take many twists and turns before either becoming something that never intended, fading out suddenly due to lost interest, or “returning to its roots”. In this series throughout October, I’d like to look at many horror movie franchises and the stories they told AS A WHOLE.
With that being said, I present to you: Poltergeist
In the early 19th century, a satanic cult formed in Southern California. Led by the Reverend Henry Kane, it’s followers believed that the end of the world was coming soon. They plan on sealing themselves in a cave on the predicted date to protect themselves from the apocalypse. One of these followers was a young Shaman named Ben Lagou. As Ben slowly came to realization that Reverend Kane is evil, he drew the ire of the leader. Kane called upon supernatural powers and took possession of Ben through a bottle of tequila that Ben willingly drank. Kane soiled Ben’s reputation with the rest of the cult, and Ben was cast out as the group prepared for the final days.
Ben scrambled to stop the cult, but it was too late. The cult was sealed underground, and Ben could not find them. He called upon spiritual powers to allow himself to be reincarnated over and over again until Kane was defeated. Ben had found out Kane’s true plan: Kane drew the cult members to him and sacrificed their souls for immortality. When he died in this world, he assumed the form of “The Beast”. However, he desired more and more power and craved additional souls.
As California became more populated throughout the 20th century, more housing was necessary. What once was barren desert became a small town. What became a town became a suburbia. In the 1970s, a housing boom began and many real estate developers were stretched thin with their cash. This led to a few unethical decisions. Cuesta Verde Estates was build on top of an old gold mining town. The buildings were demolished, and the cemetery was moved. Developer Steven Freeling and his family moved into one of the houses here.
It was not long after moving into their house that the family began experiencing odd events. Experiencing an “earthquake” that nobody else felt, the animals all began acting strangely. The electricity seemed to flair. During a birthday treasure hunt, Freeling’s son Robbie claimed to have been bitten by something in the grill and blamed a stuff doll from his room. Freeling’s wife Diane experiences phenomena like objects moving from their resting places in the kitchen.
One evening, a storm rolled through the valley. During this storm, the tree outside of Robbie’s (and his sister Carol Anne’s) broke through the window in his room and grabbed the boy. Little does he know that this is one of the demon visions that clairvoyant Tangina Barrons has had regarding the family. She had seen a flame spirit, a tree spirit, and a dark spirit that appeared murky to her. She referred to this spirit as “The Beast”.
As the family struggled to save the boy, Carol Anne is abducted by the beast. He senses in her a powerful clairvoyant ability, and her “light” shines bright in his world. Kane wanted to harness her light and attract many other souls and increase his power. Unfortunately, when he brought her to the other side, a woman (referred to as the woman in waiting) kept Carol Anne from him. As the family searched for Carol Anne, a ghost busting team from UC Berkley is called in to help. Shortly thereafter, Tangina arrives.
The plan to save the little girl called upon Diane to enter the other side and retrieve Carol Anne. It worked, and the family is reunited. While the Beast is distracted, Tangina calls to the souls that surround him and tells them to go to the light (thus, weakening the Beast). He summons his followers, and they attempt another attack. It fails, and the family escapes. In one final act of power, the Beast absorbs the house into the other side.
During the final attempt, it is discovered that the development company that built Cuesta Verde Estates moved the cemetery headstones, but not the bodies. These souls, tormented, were sought by the Beast. The company folded, and the neighborhood fell to disarray. Steven Freeling, now living in Phoenix, lost his real estate license and the insurance company refused any payouts resulting from the lost house. A weakened Kane searches for Carol Anne (now obsessed).
Diane’s mother took in the Freelings after the incidents and revealed that, she too, is clairvoyant. The family was healing until Kane found them again. Not as powerful as before, Kane appears as he did on earth. The Freelings refuse to have televisions in the house so he cannot enter through the television again. He approaches Carol Anne in public, and asks her to come with him. When this doesn’t work, he becomes infuriated and shows up at the family’s house demanding to be let in. Diane’s mother passes away, leaving the house to the family. Ben (now reincarnated as Taylor) senses Kane presence and introduces himself to the family. He bonds with Steven, and gives him the power of smoke to be used against Kane.
As Kane tries to break up the family, we see cracks form in its basis. Like Ben, Kane possesses Steven and tells Carol Anne that they don’t want her. He attacks Diane, but her love forces the demon from his body. Infuriated, he attacks. The family runs back to their Cuesta Verde and seek shelter where there house once stood with Tangina. This is where they will face him. Kane takes Diane and Carol Anne, and Steven and Robbie enter the other side through Taylor’s portal. The family reunites, but is broken apart when Kane attacks. Carol Anne falls into the light, but is sent back by her angelic grandmother.
As the family is attempting to figure out what to do next, they send Carol Anne to Chicago to live with Diane’s sister Pat, her husband Bruce, and his daughter Donna. Bruce manages the John Hancock Center (where the family also resides). They send Carol Anne to a prominent psychiatrist who believes that Carol Anne is manipulative and hypnotizes people into seeing ghosts. He triggers memories of Kane, and Kane finds her. He finds that he can control mirror images and uses these to enter and exit our world as he pleases.
Tangina senses Kane’s presence, but it is too late: Carol Anne, Donna, and her boyfriend Scott are taken by Kane. Scott reappears, and Kane kills Tangina. Upon doing this, he seemingly gives back Donna to Bruce and Pat. Seeing reflections of Carol Anne, Bruce, Pat, and the psychiatrist chase her through the building. Donna’s reflection kills the psychiatrist and returns back to the spirit world with Scott. Bruce and Pat descend the building from the outside window washing platform, and they enter Carol Anne’s room. After Bruce is taken, Pat is alone. Kane faces her, and Tangina appears. She offers him redemption. In his obsession with Carol Anne, he forgot that others possess the same or more powerful abilities that she has. In his madness, he believes that Heaven awaits him. Deep down, the draw of more souls was probably too much for him.
The final scene of the series, oddly, is a lightning bolt outside of the John Hancock Center accompanied by Kane’s laugh.