Episode 4, October 24, 2016: Poltergeist

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They're here. Those are words synonymous with the halloween season as we delve into this Spielberg classic. We dissect the film, discuss the lore behind the "Poltergeist" curse, and discuss the fact that Craig T. Nelson's character does not like Pizza Hut.


Warning: Spoilers, adult humor, and harsh language ahead. Listen at your own risk.



Show Notes:


2DudeReview - Episode 4: Poltergeist

I. Introduction
- Discuss site, Twitter, etc.

II. First Impressions of Poltergeist

III. Origin & tidbits

- Grossed over $76 million in 1982. It came about after a failed attempt to do a sequel to Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
- Tobe Hooper (from Texas Chainsaw Massacre fame) directed because Spielberg had a clause in his contract that he couldn't while he was filiming E.T..
- Nominated for Three Academy Awards.
- It was considered the "Spielberg Summer" because E.T. and Poltergeist were released a week apart.
- There were questions whether Hooper actually directed the film or if Spielberg did and just gave Hooper credit. An investigation was opened by the Directors Guild of America. They found Spielberg had a huge influence over everything but Hooper did direct. Zelda Rubinstein was quoted in saying that Spielberg directed all six days she was on set. "Tobe Hooper couldn't even direct traffic," she was quoted. She also said she didn't like Hooper since she felt it was obvious he had a drug problem. She also claimed to have psychic abilities.
- Since there was no PG-13 at the time, it was originally given an R rating but changed to PG after appeal from Spielberg and Hooper.
- There were two sequels and a remake.
- Originally Carol Ann was supposed to be killed in the first act and haunt the house but they found that too dark.
- Shirley MacLaine was originally offered the starring role but declined to film Terms of Endearment.
- The theme for the movie was criticized for being too happy and giving a false, family-friendly setting to the movie.
- Since the house was built on a cemetary, it would have been a haunting - not a poltergeist by the film's own exposition since, according to Dr. Lesh, a haunting is associated with a place and a poltergeist is associated with a person.
- The "Poltergeist curse" surrounded the movie. Dominque Dunne (Dana, the oldest daughters) was strangled a few months after the film's release by her boyfriend who ended up only serving three-and-a-half years for it. Julian Beck who played Henry Kane in Poltergeist II died of stomach cancer that he had prior to accepting the role. Will Sampson from Poltergeist II died of kidney failure and malnutrition. Heather O'Rourke (Carol Ann) died of acute bowel obstruction at the age of 12. Both Dunne and O'Rourke are buried in the same cemetary. Lou Perryman who played Pugsley was murdered in 2009 when he was hit more than ten times with an axe.
- Coincidentally, the hand drawn Super Bowl XXII San Diego poster that was in the kid's room wouldn't take place for another six years which would be 1988. O'Rourke died the day after the Super Bowl in 1988. That Super Bowl was played in San Diego.
- JoBeth Williams (Diane) had a supernatural experience during filming as the pictures on the walls of her home were crooked when she would come home from filming, even after she corrected them. Rubinstein also said that she had a vision of her dog saying goodbye to her hours before her mother called to let her know that it died.
- The production crew used real skeletons since it was cheaper than using fake ones. It was the use of the real skeletons that many people feel caused the curse of the film.
- Steve and Diane would have had to be 15 and 11 when they had Dana since she was twenty-two when the film was released. They hint that Diane was sixteen when her daughter was born but the novelization made Diane Steve's second wife and Dana was not hers.
- The people who lived in the house that it was filmed in still live there.
- The scene where Carol Ann flies into the closet scared the actress so Spielberg told her she wouldn't have to do it again. They used a doll for the ending shot of her almost flying in the closet a second time.
- They wanted Drew Barrymore for the role of Carol Ann but she wasn't angelic enough.
- O'Rourke got to keep the goldfish we see in the movie.
- There is a pretty obvious cut scene where Diane is explaining the feeling when a ghost drags her across the floor to them pounding on Ben's door next door. That's because the line was Steve saying he hates Pizza Hut. They took it out when Pizza Hut got mad.
- The shot of the chairs balancing on the table was done in one take.
- Those are Spielberg's hands that rips the guy's face off in the closet.
- The effect of the lights coming from the closet when they go to rescue Carol Ann is a spotlight behind an aquarium while a fan blew the water.
- They give a clue the reasoning for the haunting when Steve and Teague are talking about a possible promtion by a cemetary that has the exact same tree as the one in Steve's yard.
- When Diane flushes the bird, it casts a shadow of Jaws.
- JoBeth Williams didn't want to do the pool scene because of the electrical equipment. Spielberg got in the pool with her and told her, "if it falls in, we will both fry."
- The sign at the Holiday Inn that read "Welcome Dr. Fantasy and Friends" was for Frank Marshall. Dr. Fantasy was his nickname.
- The clown arm that chokes Robbie was too tight and choked him for real. Spielberg thought he was ad-libbing when he yelled, "I can't breathe." When he turned purple, Spielberg knew that wasn't the case.
- The sound effect of the beast at the end is the source for the MGM lion roar.
- Only one death in the film - the bird.
- I looked, the lightning/thunder sound count Steve teaches Robbie has validity.

IV. Our notes on Poltergeist

V. How rotten is Poltergeist? Poltergeist was given an 88% by Rotten Tomatoes. Do the following films fall higher or lower than 88%? Psycho, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, Ghost, E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Poltergeist (2015), The Omen, Firday the 13th, The Exorcist

VI. Mention next film, The Shining, plus reiterate the Web site and social media feeds

VII. Final Grade of A-F

Chad's Grade: A
Brian's Grade: B-
Karina's Grade: A