Has it been that long already on this one? Wow, who would ever thought an innocent family move into a new sprawling suburban community could be such a horror? Heheh… Yes, its blockbuster season for the movies and Comic Book Therapy takes another nostalgic lookback at a blockbuster classic from years past! On June 4th, 1982, we were taken into a new level of haunted house problems more than ever before. Steven Spielberg and director Toby Hooper’s nightmare masterpiece and one of Hollywood’s most celebrated films on paranormal invasion: POLTERGEIST!
Spielberg, still coming off the success of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND back in 1977, and his direction masterwork on RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK in 1981, took his own writing and producing craft up another notch into the great beyond of the spirit realm. POLTERGEIST was directed by none other than horror master Toby Hooper (TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974)) and starred and kickstarted the movie careers of ’80s film stars Craig T. Nelson, and JoBeth Williams.
What resulted, was an ghostly epic beyond other haunted house films at the time, and grossed over $120 million in box office receipts alone and made watching the static of an end-of-broadcast day screen on the TV all the more frightening to this day. It was also a film that brought to light the technology and phenomena of paranormal investigators and psychic mediums at work in their search for the truth in alleged ghost sightings. It also brought to public fascination, the wonders of what is on the “other side” when one lost soul ventures into the afterlife, and brought the phrase “Carol Ann, don’t go into the light” into popularity for years on.
Eric Schock, head of EVIL ROBO PRODUCTIONS comic book studios, offers his controversial view on the dark history of this amazing ghost fright flick as well:
According to reports accumulated in Wikipedia(Read “The Poltergeist curse” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poltergeist_(film_series) from various media research, POLTERGEIST was plagued by the deaths of several actors that appeared in the series of the first and third movies of the POLTERGEIST trilogy. Further note from this wiki, states the legendary curse of the film was fueled by the fact they used real cadavers in several scenes in the film. What made the curse and tragedy so notorius afterward was to the fact that two of the deceased actors from the films were of the main Freeling family (the character family from the first and second movies); that being both daughters in the story, Heather O’Rourke as Carol Anne Freeling(from illness) and Dominique Dunne as Dana Freeling (murdered).
Eric’s own view of the film:
“It was pretty experimental for its time. The overall movie had such a pull for the viewers. It made me think about the darkness that might be out there, and the respect that you need to have for the dead. Don’t build anything over a graveyard to save on cash, cause you will not like what will happen.”
At the just beginnings of the films’ popularity from over the summer and a subsequent Halloween release that first year, Dominique Dunne’s murder occured on November 4, 1982, the most publicized as the movie had just been out only five months in. Just with that, the first death alone added more for the film’s notoriety from its own popularity the first year and onward.
All in all, Spielberg and Hooper gave us a haunt classic that seats itself right next to other legends like THE EXORCIST in giving us the creeps on all things supernatural.
Stay tuned for next week…when we salute thirty years of Spielberg’s more happier and wondrous side of film classics: another 1982 hit about a lovable alien being from far off who only wants to get home….E.T., THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL! (Note: It was a matter of fact released ONE WEEK after POLTERGEIST too!) See you all then!