JUNE 16, 2007
This is not a canon review for Horror Movie A Day, as I have seen Poltergeist many times in my life, though this was the first time I have seen it in its theatrical aspect ratio (2.35:1, which for both Tobe Hooper and Steven Spielberg is very rare). But I’d just like to drop a quick note about going to see it in theaters (our local revival house was honoring 1982 and also showed movies like Tron, The Thing, and Wrath of Khan, however they did NOT show Halloween III and thus the festival was largely incomplete).
Poltergeist II: The Other Side was the first horror movie I ever saw in theaters, so I was extremely excited to see the first film theatrically. Like I’ve said many times before, I don’t care for haunted house movies, but this is one of the very rare exceptions. And it’s amazing how well it holds up. While many haunted house movies today are overloaded with CG effects and other nonsense, Poltergeist keeps things grounded and pretty real. 25 years and numerous viewings later, it still packs more suspense and genuine scares than almost any modern film you’re watching for the first time.
But best of all (or worst, depending on your POV or if you are in fact Tobe Hooper), Zelda Rubinstein was in attendance, and since her glory years are probably behind her, she’s obviously not afraid to speak her mind. In addition to randomly pointing out that poor Heather O’Rourke had shitty parents (I'm guessing she won't be authoring any Father's Day cards for Hallmark), she also laid to rest (or further ignited) the rumors about who exactly directed the film. One just needs to look at the credits: Spielberg and his usual cohorts (Frank Marshall, Kathleen Kennedy) were all over this film (producers, writers, etc) and Tobe Hooper is simply listed as director, to get the idea that Spielberg had more than just a hand in production and may have directed some or maybe most of the film himself, with Hooper reduced to a glorified camera operator role. After co-writer and actor James Karen said the usual version (“Steven may have suggested things to Tobe, but it’s Tobe’s film”), Zelda took the mic and said, bluntly “I remember it different.” She went on to say that Tobe would set up a shot and then Spielberg would come in and change it to his liking. “It’s Spielberg’s movie,” she said. Period. Hahahaha whoa!
Anyway, if you haven’t ever seen the film in it’s full aspect ratio, I demand you do so. The kitchen chair scene alone is 10x more effective when the camera isn’t needlessly panning around.
What say you?