Poltergeist is a 1982 American supernatural horror film directed by Tobe Hooper and written by producer Steven Spielberg, Michael Grais and Mark Victor from a screen story by Spielberg. It stars JoBeth Williams, Craig T. Nelson, Heather O'Rourke, and Beatrice Straight and is produced by Spielberg alongside Frank Marshall. Set in a California suburb, the plot focuses on a family whose home is invaded by malevolent ghosts that abduct their younger daughter, and the family's attempts to bring her back into the real world.
A clause in Spielberg's contract prevented him from directing another film while he made E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Therefore, Hooper was selected to direct based upon his work on The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and The Funhouse. The film was first conceived as a dark horror sequel to Close Encounters of the Third Kind entitled Night Skies. When Spielberg approached Hooper to direct, Hooper was less keen on the sci-fi elements and suggested the idea of a ghost story. Spielberg and Hooper would then go on to collaborate on the first treatment for the film.
Released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer on June 4, 1982, the film was a major critical and commercial success, becoming the eighth-highest-grossing film of 1982. Years since its release, the film has been recognized as a classic within the horror genre and has gained a cult following. Aside from being nominated for three Academy Awards, Poltergeist was named by the Chicago Film Critics Association as the 20th-scariest film ever made, and the scene of the clown doll attack was ranked as #80 on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments. The film also appeared at #84 on American Film Institute's 100 Years...100 Thrills, a list of America's most heart-pounding movies.The film's success helped spawn a franchise consisting of two sequels, Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986), Poltergeist III (1988), and a remake of the same name in 2015.