How To Watch the Poltergeist Films In the Right Order


When the summer heat is this bad, we find ourselves fantasizing about cooler fall weather. Not only is fall a time when the leaves change and the temperatures cool, but it’s also when our favorite holiday happens: Halloween! No matter how old you are, Halloween is the perfect time to feel like a kid by snacking on candy and watching scary movies.

Since we’ve been beating the heat by staying inside anyway, we decided that there’s no time like the present to channel Halloween and watch some scary movies. Even before decided on how much popcorn to make, we picked the perfect horror series to binge: Poltergeist.

Interested in joining our scary shenanigans? Keep reading to discover the right order to watch these films as well as where you can start streaming (and start screaming!).

Do you have to watch the Poltergeist films in a special order?

Horror is a genre that has had plenty of prequels, sequels, and remakes. Because of that, it can sometimes be hard to tell which order to watch a beloved series in. Obviously, nothing keeps you from just watching the films in the order they were released, but some horror fans (a bit like some Star Wars fans) like to watch the prequels first.

When it comes to the Poltergeist movies, we’ve got some good news. There are only four films, and there is basically no reason to watch them in anything other than their release order. The final film (so far) is a remake of the first film, so you might watch it first if you want to work your way up to the better movie (in this case, the original). However, we recommend watching the original first so you can better appreciate how the remake succeeds (and often fails) at changing things up.

The big question: to stream, rent, or buy

Below, our guide includes info on where you can stream the film. However, that information is always changing. And that leads to an important question only you can answer: whether to stream, rent, or buy the films in question. Streaming is easiest, of course, but if you don’t have the streaming service it is on, you won’t be able to watch the movie without renting or buying it.

Renting from places like Amazon is a great compromise…it lets you watch the film right away without spending too much money. If you like the movie well enough, you may want to go ahead and purchase a physical copy…that way, you can watch it whenever you want and get plenty of extra features. Finally, those who are patient may wish to simply wait in the hopes that the film(s) in question end up on your favorite streaming service.

Now, let’s get to the fun part: where you can watch each of these horror classics!

Poltergeist (1982)

The first Poltergeist is directed by Tobe Hooper, best known as the director of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Don’t worry, though…this isn’t a very bloody film. Instead, it’s more like a haunted house whose inhabitants must deal with angry spirits from the grave the home is built on.

This first movie is an absolute classic, and if you only watch one entry in this franchise, make it this one. If you don’t mind sitting through the occasional ad, you can watch Poltergeist for free on Pluto TV. Otherwise, you can buy a digital copy on Amazon for $9.99 or rent it for about half the price.

Poltergeist II: The Other Side

Poltergeist II: The Other Side feels like a suitably different movie from the first film. Despite this, it features mostly familiar actors, and the drama is centered on the same beleaguered family from the original movie. As usual, the sequel isn’t quite as good as the original, but it’s worth the price of admission if you’re invested in these characters.

If you’re ready for a haunting sequel, you can currently stream Poltergeist II on Max. If you don’t have that streaming service, though, you can always rent it from Amazon. For maximum spooky effect, be sure to watch it late at night!

Poltergeist III

After watching the first two Poltergeist films, you’ll have a better idea of how much you like the Carol Anne Freeling character. Should you generally dig her haunted vibe, you should check out Poltergeist III, a film where she goes to live with her aunt and uncle in Chicago. As you might imagine, though, this change of scenery leads to some of the same old scares.

Those who want to see more of Carol’s misadventures can stream this film on Max. If you don’t have that service and don’t want to sign up, don’t worry. It’s always relatively cheap to rent this particular film from Amazon.

Poltergeist (2015)

Last and arguably least is the Poltergeist remake, which in 2015 was merely the latest in a lone line of horror revivals. The storyline is largely different, featuring both a new cast and new characters. The scares are new, too, making this a good film for any completist to check out.

Good news for Max subscribers: this is yet another Poltergeist film you can stream right away. Otherwise, an Amazon rental is just a click away. Rent enough films and you may find yourself haunted by the scariest ghost of all: your receipts!

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