So Poltergeist is being remade. Yet another cherished horror film from our childhoods is being ripped apart and stitched back together with the clumsy fingers of producer Sam Raimi.
Now, before you launch into "But, Sam Raimi's a genius!" let me just stop you and we'll take a look at this together.
Raimi has been involved in some good films, he wrote the Hudsucker Proxy alongside Joel and Ethan Cohen, he also wrote the screenplay for Spider Man 3 so this is a guy who has a career of crap with the odd gem in there. Sorry, not sorry that's just how it is.
A lot of people forget or simply don't know that Poltergeist was written by Steven Spielberg and directed by Tobe Hooper. Let that sink in for a second. The man who wrote E.T., wrote Poltergeist and worked with the man who directed The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Such an odd pairing but clearly it worked...or did it? Did Tobe Hooper really direct?
There have always been rumours that Spielberg directed the film and used Hooper as a cover. Spielberg was under contract at the time Poltergeist was made, his contract stated that he not undertake any other directing while we was working on E.T.
As it was E.T. and Poltergeist were released within a week of each other and this sparked rumours that Spielberg had been at best a co-director and at worst had directed the whole film and had Hooper sign his name to it.
In 2010, at FrightFest, Hooper told the audience "a writer from the L.A. Times visited the set while they were filming some backyard scenes and Spielberg was shooting 2nd unit footage in an over-the-shoulder angle of remote control cars. The Times didn’t consider that this might only be 2nd unit, which is how the Big Story got started in the first place. In fact, Spielberg was prepping ET, and wasn’t really on the Poltergeist set that much."
I remember watching Poltergeist as a kid and never before had TV static been so scary. Poltergeist is a horror classic, ranked 84 on AFI's 100 Years…100 Thrills list and is the story of The Freeling family who are terrorized by ghosts and it's these ghosts that eventually kidnap their youngest daughter Carol Anne. By today's standards it's a bit tame, but certainly worth a watch if you've never seen, hell! even if you have seen it it's probably due for a re-watch.
While I'm writing this, have you heard of the Poltergeist curse?
It all starts with the fact that real skeletons were used in the film (it was cheaper than buying fake skeletons - who knew?) and this, understandably, freaked certain cast and crew members out.
Then cast members started dying. Sadly, Heather O' Rourke the girl who played Carol Anne died only age 12, she had been misdiagnosed as having Crohns disease and after collapsing at her home died later that day at the hospital having suffered cardiac arrest due to septic shock brought on by the intestinal stenosis that was never diagnosed.
The actress who played Carol Anne's sister Dana died only a few months after Poltergeist was in cinemas. Actress Dominique Dunne was just 22 when her abusive ex boyfriend, who had just recently become an ex due to his abusive behaviour came to Dominique's house and dragged her out of the house, partially strangled her and left her for dead. Dominique was found alive but brain dead. Five days later, she was removed from life support and died.
Julian Beck, who chillingly portrayed the evil preacher Kane, died following an 18 month long battle with stomach cancer shortly after completing work on the second instalment of the Poltergeist franchise.
And there you have it, a horror film with it's own curse, much like The Omen and The Exorcist.
I don't normally like remakes, there are a few exceptions of course, it drives me crazy that Hollywood remakes films that were and still are popular. Why not choose a film that was universally hated and try to better it? Why not read some horror books that could do with being seen on the silver screen?
There are so many reasons not to remake these classic films, The Omen, The Wicker Man, Carrie etc I just wish someone would listen.