1982 / Director. Tobe *cough* Spielberg *cough* Hooper.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
Rumour has it that POLTERGEIST was made from a failed attempt of Steven Spielberg to make a sequel to CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND. He has also referred to this movie as a sister film to ET. Due to a contractual clause, Spielberg was not allowed to direct the film and so he hired Tobe Hooper for the job, citing the amazing work on THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE as his reason. Most of you are filmies and probably know that there is strong conjecture and debate over who actually directed the film. From some first hand accounts I have heard and from the entire aesthetic and tone of POLTERGEIST, I would put my money on Spielberg... but regardless of that speculation, the film remains a classic and one of the few horror films that Spielberg has ever made. It tells the story of a family whose home is taken over by a malevolent supernatural presence. Objects move themselves, whispers emanate from their television set and their 6 year old daughter is abducted by the unknown entity. With the help of parapsychologists they investigate the occurrences in a desperate attempt to save their little girl. This is a brilliant film that paved the way for others to come. It begins with a very family-friendly PG atmosphere with lots of quirky gimmicks and whimsical dialogue but it quickly shifts gears into an intense and graphic horror film with imagery that still holds its power. It had been several years since I had watched POLTERGEIST and I had forgotten just how horrific much of the story is. Watching it recently I was blown away by the awesomeness of the horror... how could I have forgotten about the incredible and ghastly face-melting scene? Then there's the murderous clown doll... And then the most terrifying scene of them all in the mud-pool with rotting corpses swarming on JoBeth Williams. It is the stuff of nightmares and production notes suggest that actual human skeletons were used in the film because they were cheaper than fake ones. How repulsive! These disturbing moments are powerful and help to conceal some of the film's less effective special fx (notably the giant closet monster). POLTERGEIST is an effective horror film that still packs a punch. Without this classic we wouldn't have films like INSIDIOUS, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY and THE SIXTH SENSE. Of course it spawned two sequels and has a remake in the works (why?) which is being produced by Sam Raimi and directed by Gil Kenan (Monster House, City of Ember). JAWS is the only "horror" film that Spielberg has officially directed and with his producer's hat on he has made others like POLTERGEIST, ARACHNOPHOBIA, GREMLINS and SUPER 8... and all throughout his career he has showcased his talent for the grotesque with films like TEMPLE OF DOOM, JURASSIC PARK, MINORITY REPORT and WAR OF THE WORLDS -- therefore I think that it's high time that he make another horror movie... what I wouldn't give to see that!!