Monday, May 18, 2015

The most quotable line from Poltergeist ... II

One movie reference that has persisted for years in our culture is the notion that something is "baaAAAaack."

That's how I write it whenever I use it, anyway. I've seen it written as either "ba-ack" or just "baaaaack," the latter hoping, I guess, that you will imagine the vowel sound going up in that sing-songy fashion without any visual cues to indicate it.

This is, of course, the ominous pronouncement of one Carol Anne Freeling upon realizing that the Poltergeist ghosts have returned to her television. She announced their original arrival with "They're heeEEEeere."

But the meme that has persisted in our culture is not "They're heeEEEeere." It's "They're baaAAAaack." It is most often used to describe the return of someone or something that we'd thought was, practically speaking, dead. I used it most recently to describe Boston Red Sox hitter Shane Victorino, a former star who has suffered through a panoply of injuries and ineffective play over the past two seasons, who hit a home run and led his team to victory on Thursday. (A friend of mine is obsessed with Victorino.) That was a decent usage, but it's better for (staying in the world of baseball) someone like Alex Rodriguez, who missed all of last season after an infamous steroid suspension but has been playing like gangbusters early on in 2015. It should really be for someone you hoped was gone, but now is back -- like those Poltergeist ghosts.

Of course, it's not actually from Poltergeist. It's from Poltergeist II.

When you think about it, it makes sense. It was the perfect marketing hook for a Poltergeist sequel, playing off the most famous quote from the original movie. What's odd is that it has risen up above the original quote in prominence and frequency of usage, even as the second Poltergeist movie on the whole is justifiably forgotten and dismissed.

For example, did you even remember, without seeing that poster, that Poltergeist II was subtitled The Other Side?

Alright, that one was too easy. Yeah, you remembered.

But it's funny that when we think we're doing "the Poltergeist quote," we're actually doing "the Poltergeist II quote." It's kind of the same as that time I discovered that most of my friends and my favorite quotes from Airplane! were actually from Airplane II -- although not really the same, because Airplane II is also really funny. Whereas Poltergeist II ... well, that old guy at the beginning really scared me, anyway.

I haven't seen any advertising for this summer's Poltergeist reboot, but I imagine that, also, would be a good opportunity for "They're baaAAAaack." Of course, "they" can never really be back in a soulless reboot that is as likely to scare me as it's likely to do my taxes.

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