Poltergeist

Poltergeist Poster Image

I’ve never been shy about my disinclination for horror, which is possibly my least favorite movie genre if I had to pick one. It’s not that I hate all horror films, but very generally they don’t ever immediately appeal to me. I find that I don’t scare easily, I don’t like to look at a lot of gore and I don’t have much interest in the psychology of fictional killers or the suffering of fictional victims. Most horror movies I see bore me, even those I might appreciate as being more than just a conventional series of deaths or hauntings or other frights. I often rationalize my disfavor as being the effect of watching a ton of horror movies at a very young age and becoming immune to their tricks and subtext. That might not be the truth, but I do remember having a dream around age 6 or 7 in which I was basically on a set visit to a horror film production, where I saw all the suicidal people who’d volunteered to play victims, because in that world the actors in horror films are literally killed. That makes me sound more messed up as a kid than I was, when really I think it was just my imagination reminding me that the actuality of horror movies is all just pretend. I’m sure my overthinking of the genre even then kept me from enjoying it. Anyway, whatever the reasons for my being a “horror hater” (nowadays my being a […]

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Halloween_MichaelMyers

Where would horror cinema be without gothic fiction? The careers of Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, James Whale, Roger Corman and many a German expressionist owe a great deal to the storied architecture that characterized the settings of 18th and 19th century literary classics. Moreover, from The Uninvited and Rebecca in the 1940s to the modern takes of the early 1960s (The Haunting and The Innocents, just to name a couple), the grand haunted house has proven to be a mainstay in horror, whether as a foreboding living space harboring dark secrets, a site for challenging and torturing tourists and skeptics, or an active site of dark experiments. The notion that houses – namely, large estates – contain histories which resonate beyond mortal bodies that inhabited them has vastly defined and influenced not only the terms of a cinematic genre, but what we find scary in general. But as postwar suburbanization came to redefine the relation between people and the places they reside, the horror genre had to redefine itself away from an increasingly archaic experience of housing. But haunting the suburbs has proven to possess its own unique set of problems: how does a place that has minimal history become haunted by spirits of the past?

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Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Tobe Hooper is deservedly recognized for making one of the most consequential, game changing titles in horror film history. Few horror movies, then or now, match the raw, urgent dread of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. But the well-earned primacy of that film obscures a career that grew notably diverse as it went on. Rather than a horror auteur known for revisiting styles, genres and a consistent worldview, Hooper’s films have attempted regularly to depart from what he’s done before. In so doing, Hooper’s filmography exhibits a remarkable and confident range of abilities and interests, from the mesmerizing slow burn nightmare of Funhouse to the Spielbergian blockbuster Poltergeist to the campy tribute to ‘50s sci-fi in his Invaders From Mars remake. After all, this is the guy whose only sequel, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, took his most beloved property – a terrifying small-budget gorefest – and turned it into a bizarre slapstick comedy. So here is some free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from the director who taught us never to pick up a hitchhiker in Texas.

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Poltergeist

Everyone’s heard of movies that are cursed. One terrible event after another happens on set, things go horribly wrong, the movie goes way over budget. Sometimes, people even die. But it’s not a curse, it’s just bad luck. Right? Well, sometimes there’s just one little detail that elevates movie curses from “Oh, that sucks” to “Please, hand me the fucking holy water.”

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Mirror Trick in Poltergeist 3

“Carol Anne! Carol Anne! Bruce! Bruce! Patricia! Patricia! Carol Anne! Bruce!” One of the funniest episodes of Siskel & Ebert features their dialogue-mocking review of Poltergeist III, which is one of my all-time biggest guilty pleasures. I love the way Gene chimes in when Roger says he hopes the residents of the John Hancock Center got free tickets (“I hope they didn’t.”). It’s a silly take on a ridiculous movie, the second sequel to what I believe to be one of the greatest horror films ever made. My esteem for the first Poltergeist is not why I’ve always had a soft spot for Poltergeist III. I hated Poltergeist II: The Other Side as a kid, yet I latched onto the next installment with immense fascination and fear. Partly it was the state-of-the-art skyscraper setting, which my 11-year-old self believed to be an inspired choice (the 13-year-old me would go on to accept Gremlins 2: The New Batch as a better use of such a location). Mostly, though, it’s always been the creepy mirror tricks that make me an unapologetic fan. The magic of the looking glass and reflections in general have been of interest to storytellers for millennia, especially for the way they provoke an idea of another, near-identical universe visible and approachable through a kind of window or portal. Sometimes there’s wonder to the idea, as in Lewis Carroll’s stories of Alice, but more often it seems to be the stuff of horror, especially on the big screen. Yet another scary movie […]

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PetSemetary

With this weekend’s A Fantastic Fear of Everything, Simon Pegg stars as Jack, a children’s book author who becomes obsessive and paranoid about death and murder — even when there’s nothing at all to worry about. While Jack is an adult who can’t cope with the real world because of his obsessions, it’s more often the kids who are deemed the scaredy cats due to their irrational fears. Maybe that has a little to do with sneaking scary movies bright and early? It’s a rite of passage, really, that happens when Dad is snoring on the other side of the couch and the remote is blissfully, blessedly unattended for once. That’s right; it’s time to steal that remote and secretly switch the channel to the scariest programming possible. Nightmares be damned, you’re nine years old and you have living to do, man! Trying to watch horror movies (and just plain fear-themed films) before the appropriate age comes from a specific scientific combination of attempting to appear more grown-up and the innate desire that exists within all of us to do the opposite of whatever our parents say. When the lights go out and the moms are out of sight, it’s time to see exactly how brave you can be when facing down Freddy Krueger. As tough and gallant as we might fancy ourselves as children – and this especially applies if we’re literally talking about us, little movie buffs in the making – there are just some films you just really […]

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dark crystal room

While watching Thor: The Dark World, my desire was to switch this week’s list of movies to watch to a list of TV series to watch. The whole movie is like Game of Thrones meets Doctor Who, the former an understandable influence since director Alan Taylor has helmed six episodes of that show (the fact that Christopher Eccleston is in the movie has nothing to do with the latter). He’s also won an Emmy for his work directing The Sopranos and a DGA Award for his work on Mad Men. Other series I was reminded of while watching include The Wire, because of Idris Elba, Lost, because of Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, and The IT Crowd, because of Chris O’Dowd. But most of these are already so well known, and they really don’t have a lot to do with Thor 2 other than talent connections. I also wasn’t interested in checking out 2 Broke Girls just to make a well-rounded yet thin point. So, here’s your usual list of movies I thought to recommend after the Thor sequel. Not surprisingly, there are no appropriate documentaries included this time. You’re welcome. Minor SPOILERS if you haven’t seen Thor: The Dark World. 

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IntroObjects

There’s probably no funnier first-world fear than thinking your stuff might come alive and try to kill you. Then again, pretty much the entire horror genre is based around exploiting ridiculous irrational fears – it’s just that some fears are a little more irrational than others. Your toaster isn’t out to get you. To celebrate that, here are some of the most innocuous, completely stupid objects that horror films have found a way to demonize (successfully even!):

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dewitt

What is Casting Couch? It’s a rundown of all the important casting news that occurred in the last 24 hours. Today Hollywood’s movers and shakers have found jobs for former sitcom stars, former Goonies, and even the BoKu guy. Given all of the money that haunted house movies, possession movies, and remakes of old classics have been making lately, it’s seemed pretty strange that nobody has pulled the trigger on a Poltergeist remake. Could Tobe Hooper’s legendary tale of a terrorized family be the one property that the movie industry feels they got so right the first time, they don’t want to mess with it again? No. Don’t be silly. Of course a remake of Poltergeist is in the works, and a report out of Deadline says that Rosemarie Dewitt is now set to take the female lead, which was played by Jobeth Williams in the original. Monster House director Gil Kenan is in charge of the remake, and rumor has it that now that Dewitt has been recruited, his search for the new Craig T. Nelson is underway.

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THE CONJURING

This week sees the opening of James Wan’s The Conjuring, the horror maestro’s latest scream-filled outing that has already picked up plenty of accolades, thanks to an early premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival. A riff on the classic haunted house trope, The Conjuring laces in plenty of that “based on a true story” stuff that’s so often tossed on horror film branding with very little basis in fact – which makes the film’s apparent basis in fact all the more interesting (and, fine, totally scary). The film centers on the haunting of the Perrone family (led by Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor), who find their lives terrifyingly upended after moving into a large, isolated farmhouse with a bloody history (pro tip: never move into a large, insolated farmhouse with a bloody history). All the classic hallmarks of a demonic haunting show themselves early – bad smells, bumps in the night, stopped clocks, bad dreams, incessant knocking, destroyed belongings, visions, and a creeping sense of dread that all seven Perrons can’t escape – so the arrival of noted demonlogists Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) comes as a tremendous relief. The arrival of the Warrens will also come as relief to fans of the couple’s work in the paranormal realm, as yup, the Warrens really did investigate the paranormal and the demonic and, indeed, The Conjuring is based on one of their actual cases. But while The Conjuring is the first feature film based on a […]

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Poltergeist

Given all of the horror remakes and all of the generic haunted house movies that come out every year, it gets to be something of a chore keeping up with which films from the past have already been remade and which haven’t. Well, it turns out Tobe Hooper’s 1982 ghost story Poltergeist was on the list of movies that have yet to be remade, because Deadline Hollywood is reporting that MGM now has plans to remake it. In order to do so they’ve brought on board director Gil Kenan, who’s probably best known for helming the 2006 animated film, Monster House. Given that Monster House was also a movie about a spooky house, the theory they’re working under must be that Kenan will have the experience necessary to beat out all the other upcoming movies about spooky houses by making an even better movie about a spooky house. Plus, Poltergeist has another advantage in that it’s being called the same thing as another movie about a spooky house that people have already liked. It’s important to always stay one step ahead of the competition in the spooky house arms race. This news, of course, raises the same questions that every new remake of a classic from the past raises. Is there any reason at all to remake Poltergeist? Is there anything about the original that will benefit from a more modern take on the source material? Or is this just the latest depressing bit of evidence that the film industry has completely […]

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Sinister

This article is presented in partnership with SINISTER, in theaters October 5. Don’t forget that you can see Sinister first with Tugg.com and Film School Rejects in Washington, DC (and many other cities) by visiting SeeSinisterFirst.com. Even though movies often get a bad rap for glorifying sex and violence, there’s a lot of lessons that can be learned from various films. Horror films, in particular, have taught people a variety of helpful things. For example, we all know to never split up when being chased by a maniac. We know to never drop your weapon next to a killer’s “obviously” dead body. And we also know not to go out a-sexing and a-drinking in the woods without at least keeping one eye open for a deranged psychopath with a questionable past. Movies have also taught us to ask what might be considered bizarre questions when deciding on a new place to live. Has anyone been killed with a nail gun in the living room? Does there happen to be a gateway to hell in the basement? How many former tenants have gone completely bat-shit crazy and murdered their entire families? (Note: if the answer is more than zero, you might want to reconsider renting or purchasing this home.) These real estate listings below might seem to be a good deal, but read between the lines and discover the wicked deal you’re getting on the purchase price might not be a good deal at all.

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Alamo Drafthouse Summer of 1982

Blade Runner. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The Road Warrior. The list of incredible films released during the summer of 1982 goes on and on. From E.T. to Tron, it could very well be the greatest summer of movies in the history of nerds, geeks, lovers of cinema and eaters of popcorn. It was one of those summers that defined the term “Summer Movie.” The only sad thing about it is that 1982 came before many of us were born. An entire generation of movie geeks who grew up with these movies, but never quite got to experience them all together as they did in that one magical summer. The Alamo Drafthouse is looking to change that. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the “greatest summer of movies ever,” our friends at the Alamo have designed a screening series unlike any other. Mirroring the release schedule — to the best of their ability — of the Summer of 1982, the Drafthouse will present 1982’s best blockbusters in 35mm, with plenty of Mondo posters, special guests and a few other surprises that — and I say this with only limited knowledge beyond what we’re telling you here — will absolutely blow your minds. They’ve asked a special group of websites — Film School Rejects included — to co-host each screening. We drew The Road Warrior. It’s basically the greatest thing to happen to us since, well, we first saw The Road Warrior. So if you’re in the area of an Alamo Drafthouse, we’ve […]

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For anyone who’s ever stared into the television and said, “They’re here,” – this one’s for you. This trailer for the Tobe Hooper-directed Steven Spielberg-directed Tobe Hooper-directed horror flick knows what scares you. As most realize, Spielberg produced this film back-to-back with E.T. and the feel of both films is remarkably similar even with different boogeymen. However, in this one, Spielberg instilled his own childhood fear of clowns and of a spooky tree outside his bedroom window into the move. It’s a cultural icon (that was almost scripted by Stephen King), and, on a personal note, isn’t it great to see Zelda Rubenstein on screen again if only for a brief moment?

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A family returns to the United Arab Emirates from a trip to find their fancy apartment is haunted by a Djinn – a demon that lies at the heart of the Middle Eastern myths about genies. This one apparently doesn’t sing “Friend Like Me” or grant wishes. This is the premise for Tobe Hooper‘s new project Djinn which sounds an awful lot like his 1982 project Poltergeist right down to the “abandoned fishing village” the apartment complex is built upon. Since Hooper hasn’t directed a film since 2005, it’ll be interesting to see him return to a very familiar form even if its in a foreign land. Plus, his recent return to directing has been average to downright terrible with The Toolbox Murders and Mortuary. Maybe this re-return will be the key to success for the icon who delivered the great horrors of the late 70s and 80s. Hooper is definitely no stranger to ghost stories, and this gives just enough spin to keep it fresh, although it’s unclear how they’ll differentiate between a djinn and, you know, any other paranormal entity. At the first sign of moving meat, I’ll call foul, but the premise alone is harmless enough, and hopefully Hooper can deliver this time around. According to the press release, producer and Imagenation Abu Dhabi VP Daniela Tully aimed for the fences, evoking the sweeping J-horror craze of a few years ago and placing it firmly in the UAE. Is there a chance that the next wave of […]

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31daysofhorror-reckoning

FSR’s Editor takes a walk back into his own childhood to conquer the one movie that damaged him most as a young movielover, the Steven Spielberg produced, Tobe Hooper directed Poltergeist.

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Don’t know whether to check out Ghostbusters or Ghost Dad next time you’re in the mood for a spooky comedy? We’ve got some flicks you should check out and others to leave on the rental shelf.

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Poltergeist

MGM will be creating what they call a “new character-based horror project that will utilize the original film as a jumping off point.” What does this mean? Does that mean a remake or a reboot? I don’t have an answer to that one, but I do know who will…

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Poltergeist

MGM’s Poltergeist remake is inching closer to the light with the announcement that two curiously named writers are set to tackle the new screenplay.

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The rumor mill has see-sawed back and forth as to whether there’ll simply be a sequel or a complete remake, and the verdict is finally in.

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published: 12.19.2014
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published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+


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