Movie Review: Comparing Poltergeist And Reboot

Poltergeist 2015 Movie Cover-IMDB

20th Century Fox

It was the “Summer of Spielberg”

The summer E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, and Poltergiest were released a week apart in June 1982. Being a child of the 80s, I loved both E.T. and Poltergeist (1982), the latter starring JoBeth Williams, Craig T. Nelson, and little Heather O’Rourke as Carol-Anne, who disappears into her bedroom closet.

“Theey’re heeere” is a line voted as the 69th movie quote out of 100 by the American Film Institute (and admit it, if you didn’t say it out loud in that sweetly creepy voice, you thought it).

I’ve seen the original movie countless times and never get tired of it. Directed by Tobe Hooper (Texas Chainsaw Massacre), and written by Steven Spielberg (all of which is apparently debatable), the movie sets the tone of a young family’s daily life and pulls you right in. You immediately care about this family and are as horrified as they are when they realize what’s going on in the house.

New Family, Zero F#(k$ Given

The new Poltergeist (2015) is directed by Sam Raimi and stars Sam Rockwell, and a little girl named Kennedi Clements plays the Carol-Anne character, who is now named “Maddie.” The clown is back, and brings friends. The terrifying tree is present. The bedroom closet is again the mysterious “black hole” of the house, and this time we actually get to see *what’s in there.*

A group from the local university comes to investigate, but we care less about these characters than the original movie. The “house-cleaner,” played so masterfully by Zelda Rubenstein in Poltergeist I, II, and III, is now the male host of a paranormal investigation series (they should have gotten Zak Bagans!). Ultimately, the family gets away, and we suspect “this house is clean.” Yeah, right.

This movie was made for fans of the original movie. They kept most of the major elements, which I applaud, but if I hadn’t seen the original, I would probably think this was a 5-out-of-10-star movie. I started to WANT the house to keep Maddie, and maybe the rest of the family, too. I liked how they worked in characters’ technology use. Times have changed since 1982!

Run time in the theater is 93 minutes, the director’s cut DVD will run about 101 minutes, with 7-8 minutes of deleted footage.

Overall, I would recommend Poltergeist (2015) if you were a fan of the original movie. It’s not bad, but it might seem like it’s reaching, if you didn’t know what it was reaching for.

6 out of 10 stars.

Poltergeist Movie Curse

One of the most interesting aspects of the original movie is the supposed “curse” that accompanies it.  With tragic deaths of cast members, rumors are it all started with the skeletons in the pool. (Gasp!) THEY. WERE. REAL. The actors didn’t know that at the time, but apparently it was cheaper to use real skeletons than to buy fake ones. In order:

1) Nov 1982: Just months after the first movie is released, Dominique Dunne, daughter of attorney Dominic Dunne and the actress who played older sister Dana, is strangled to death by an ex-boyfriend (trivia says the boy in the new film is named Griffin, a tribute to Dana’s brother, Griffin Dunne). She was 22.

2) Sept 1985: 60-year-old actor Julian Beck (the creepy stranger from the sequels) dies of stomach cancer.

3) Feb 1988: Shortly after the 3rd movie finishes filming, Heather O’Rourke is misdiagnosed with Crohn’s Disease and dies of cardiac arrest caused by intestinal stenosis weeks after her 12th birthday.

4) Jun 1987: 53-year-old Will Sampson dies of complications from a heart-lung transplant; JoBeth Williams says Will performed an exorcism on the set of Poltergeist II after hearing that the skeltons used on the first movie were real.

5) Jan 2004: 59-year-old Poltergiest II director Brian Gibson dies of bone cancer.

6) Apr 2009: 67-year-old Lou Perryman, who had the small role of construction worker Pugsley in the film, was killed in his home in Austin, Texas, with an axe, by an ex-convict who he had never met.

Bonus) Mar 1992: Richard Lawson (Ryan, one of the investigators in the original movie) survived the crash of USAir flight 405, which crashed shortly after take-off from New York’s LaGuardia Airport. Lawson was suspended upside down in the plane for some time, but was one of 24 survivors out of 51. This sounds more like luck, than a curse.

Do E.T. And Poltergeist Live In The Same Neighborhood?

I always thought the Poltergeist house was in the same neighborhood as the E.T. house, but no. The Poltergeist house is in Simi Valley, California, and the family who owned it at the time the movie was filmed still lives there today. The E.T. house is in Tujunga, California, north of Burbank.



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