History, Legacy & Showmanship

Revisiting Cuesta Verde: Remembering “Poltergeist” on its 35th Anniversary

June 5, 2017 - 12:01 am   |   by
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“It knows what scares you.”

The Digital Bits and History, Legacy & Showmanship are pleased to present this retrospective article commemorating the 35th anniversary of the release of Poltergeist, Tobe Hooper and Steven Spielberg’s acclaimed horror film starring Jobeth Williams, Craig T. Nelson and Zelda Rubinstein and featuring Academy Award-nominated Visual Effects, Music and Sound Effects Editing. [Read on here...]

Poltergeist, one of the most popular horror films ever made, opened in theaters 35 years ago this week, and for the occasion The Bits features a compilation of statistics, trivia and box-office data that places the movie’s performance in context; passages from vintage film reviews; a reference/historical listing of the film’s premium-format presentations; and, finally, an interview segment with film music and Spielberg authority Mike Matessino.

Poltergeist

 

POLTERGEIST NUMBER$

  • 0 = Number of weeks nation’s top-grossing movie
  • 1 = Box-office rank among films in the Poltergeist series
  • 1 = Rank among top-earning horror films of 1982
  • 2 = Rank on list of top-earning films of MGM/UA’s 1982 slate
  • 3 = Number of Academy Award nominations
  • 3 = Rank among top-earning movies during opening weekend
  • 4 = Number of sequels, remakes and spin-offs
  • 5 = Rank among top-earning movies of 1982 (summer)
  • 6 = Number of months between theatrical release and home-video release
  • 8 = Rank among top-earning movies of 1982 (calendar year)
  • 28 = Number of weeks of longest-running engagement
  • 37 = Number of 70mm prints
  • 62 = Rank on all-time list of top box-office earners at close of original release
  • 890 = Number of opening-week engagements
  • $34.98 = Suggested retail price of initial home video release (videodiscs)
  • $79.98 = Suggested retail price of initial home video release (VHS and Beta)
  • $7,749 = Opening-weekend per-screen average
  • $6.9 million = Opening-weekend box-office gross
  • $10.7 million = Production cost
  • $17.5 million = Opening-weekend box-office gross (adjusted for inflation)
  • $27.1 million = Production cost (adjusted for inflation)
  • $36.2 million = Box-office rental (domestic; as of 12/31/82)
  • $37.7 million = Box-office rental (domestic; as of 12/31/83)
  • $38.2 million = Box-office rental (domestic; legacy)
  • $45.1 million = Box-office gross (international)
  • $76.6 million = Box-office gross (domestic)
  • $96.8 million = Box-office rental (domestic, adjusted for inflation)
  • $114.3 million = Box-office gross (international, adjusted for inflation)
  • $121.7 million = Box-office gross (worldwide)
  • $194.1 million = Box-office gross (domestic, adjusted for inflation)
  • $308.4 million = Box-office gross (worldwide, adjusted for inflation)

 

Poltergeist

 

A SAMPLING OF MOVIE REVIEWER QUOTES

“This is the movie The Amityville Horror dreamed of being.” — Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

“[I]t is a pleasure to see a horror movie that does not base its entertainment on obscene fantasies about killing defenseless women.” — Desmond Ryan, Philadelphia Inquirer

“There is no moviemaker anywhere who can wrest so much fun out of the commonplace — the toys, gimmicks, hardware and habits of contemporary America. Spielberg is simply a wizard at mirroring us and our manifold junk in brilliant satirical flourishes.” — Peter Stack, San Francisco Chronicle

“If ever a protest might be made of a PG rating, this would be the film.” — Sheila Benson, Los Angeles Times

“Aside from a deliciously frightening locking of a door and a surprising tug on a mother’s dress, the new terror film Poltergeist is without terror, thrills or entertainment value. In fact, the last half of the picture is a bunch of silly mumbo jumbo that combines the worst elements of The Exorcist and the pseudoscientific laugh riot, Beyond and Back.” — Gene Siskel, Chicago Tribune

Poltergeist is like a thoroughly enjoyable nightmare, one that you know that you can always wake up from, and one in which, at the end, no one has permanently been damaged. It’s also witty in a fashion that Alfred Hitchcock might have appreciated. Offhand, I can’t think of many other directors who could raise goose bumps by playing The Star-Spangled Banner behind a film’s opening credits.” — Vincent Canby, The New York Times

“A superior, spectacular ghost story.” — Charles Michener, Newsweek

Poltergeist is a nice, civilized monster movie for anyone who giggled with terror at The Exorcist. It is true the film has something of an identity problem; often it seems unable to make up its mind whether it’s trying to scare the bejesus out of you or simply make you laugh. But then, perhaps this is due to the fact that the direction is shared by Tobe Hooper, who made the bloodspattered Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Steven Spielberg (Close Encounters of the Third Kind), who thinks of outer space as populated by colonies of Peter Pans.” — Gina Mallet, Toronto Star

“Honest thrills and spine-snapping chills.” — Richard Corliss, Time

Poltergeist provides a sharp and canny mixture of cerebral chills and raw, visceral thrills. Few other horror films have managed to merge the psychological and the literal with such harmonious results.” — Philip Wuntch, The Dallas Morning News

“[Poltergeist] is a dazzling, laser fun house of a film where the ride is too much fun to be anything scary.” — Jack Mathews, Detroit Free Press

Poltergeist, the first salvo from what may be remembered as Steven Spielberg Summer, has arrived and the results are oddly uneven. In terms of simple, flat-out, roof-rattling fright, Poltergeist gives full value. In terms of story, however, simple is indeed the word, and dumb might be a better one.” — Sheila Benson, Los Angeles Times

Poltergeist is a walloping ghost story, as fun and entertaining to watch as it often is frightening. It has all the ingredients of a summer hit for Steven Spielberg who ran away with box office dollars last summer with Raiders of the Lost Ark and seems certain to do it again with this film as well as the upcoming E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.” — Carol Olten, The San Diego Union

“[Poltergeist] is a much more exciting experience in stereo and 70mm.” — Ted Mahar, The (Portland) Oregonian

“The slam-bang technical professionalism of Poltergeist is exhilarating. This is classically seamless Hollywood moviemaking evolved to its highest state.” — Scott Sublett, The Washington Times

Poltergeist reawakens childhood fears. For a couple of hours, it is a roller-coaster ride of thrills, chills and shivers. Spielberg says Poltergeist is his revenge on television. It may be just a splendidly crafted thriller, and it certainly could never happen in real life. But I, for one, am turning off the TV tonight before I go to sleep. Maybe even when I first get home.” — Donna Chernin, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer

“It’s an absolutely irresistible good time. Poltergeist is intelligent, witty, and it will scare the bejeesus out of you. It even offers a moral to all unscrupulous real estate developers — but I can’t tell you anymore than that or I’ll spoil the story.” — Ellen Pfeifer, The Boston Herald

Poltergeist could have been a more frightening movie, with more chilling after-effects, but that’s not what Spielberg and Hooper had in mind. They clearly wanted the kind of horror movie you could take your kids or your parents to see, and they’ve succeeded.” — John Hartl, The Seattle Times

Poltergeist is the best ghost story I’ve ever seen. That’s the sort of sweeping statement I normally avoid, but there’s no need for quibbling this time. Steven Spielberg’s new production is unadultered good fun — as scary, happy and harmless as a roller coaster ride.” — George Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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THE 70MM ENGAGEMENTS

Event and prestige movies (and instances to appease a filmmaker’s ego) on occasion are given a deluxe release in addition to a standard release. This section of the article includes a reference/historical listing of the first-run 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo premium-format presentations of Poltergeist in the United States and Canada. These were arguably the best theaters in which to experience Poltergeist and the only way at the time to faithfully hear the movie’s discrete multichannel audio mix.

Only about five percent of Poltergeist’s initial print run was in the 70mm format, which was significantly more expensive and more time- and labor-intensive to manufacture compared with conventional 35mm prints. And of the 100+ new movies released during 1982, Poltergeist was among only eighteen to have 70mm prints prepared for selected engagements.

The film’s 70mm prints of Poltergeist were blown up from anamorphic 35mm photography and were intended to be projected in a 2.20:1 aspect ratio. The noise-reduction and signal-processing format for the prints was Dolby “A,” and the soundtrack was Format 42 (i.e. three discrete screen channels + one discrete surround channel + “baby boom” low-frequency enhancement).

A trailer for My Favorite Year circulated with the Poltergeist prints and which the distributor recommended be screened with the presentation.

The listing includes the 70mm engagements of Poltergeist that commenced June 4th, 1982*. Not included in this work are the moveover, second run, revival and international engagements (or any of the movie’s countless standard 35mm engagements). And to provide a sense of the movie’s appeal, the duration of the engagements, measured in weeks, has been included in parenthesis for some of the entries.

*Prior to release there was a sneak preview screening on May 21st at the Century Plaza in Los Angeles and invitational previews on May 21st at the Samuel Goldwyn in Beverly Hills, May 26th at the MGM Studios in Culver City and June 3rd at the Cinerama in New York. The film’s official premiere was held June 3rd at the Egyptian in Seattle as a part of the Seattle Film Festival.

So, for historical reference and nostalgia, the first-run North American theaters that screened the 70mm version of Poltergeist were….

70mm 6-Track Dolby Stereo

ALBERTA

  • Calgary — Famous Players’ Palliser Square Twin (15)
  • Edmonton — Famous Players’ Westmount Twin (15)

BRITISH COLUMBIA

  • Vancouver — Famous Players’ Stanley (17)

CALIFORNIA

  • Costa Mesa — Edwards’ South Coast Plaza Triplex (7)
  • Los Angeles (Century City) — Plitt’s Century Plaza Twin (10)
  • Los Angeles (Hollywood) — SRO’s Paramount (7)
  • Sacramento — Syufy’s Capitol Twin
  • San Diego — Mann’s Valley Circle (27)
  • San Francisco — Plitt’s Northpoint (7)
  • San Jose — Syufy’s Century 24 Twin

DELAWARE

  • Claymont — SamEric’s Eric Tri-State Mall 4-plex (12)

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

  • Washington — Circle’s Embassy Circle (10)
Poltergeist

ILLINOIS

  • Chicago — Center’s McClurg Court (5)
  • Chicago — Plitt’s State Lake (5)
  • Northbrook — Center’s Edens Twin (6)

KENTUCKY

  • Louisville — Redstone’s Showcase 9-plex (28)

MANITOBA

  • Winnipeg — Famous Players’ Northstar Twin (15)

MASSACHUSETTS

  • Boston — Sack’s Cinema 57 Twin (11)

NEW JERSEY

  • Paramus — RKO Century’s Route 17 Twin (10)
  • Pennsauken — SamEric’s Eric Triplex (15)
  • Totowa — UA’s Cinema 46 Triplex (6)

NEW YORK

  • Greece — Jo-Mor’s Stoneridge Twin (13)
  • New York — RKO Century’s Cinerama Twin (9)
  • Valley Stream — RKO Century’s Green Acres (11)

ONTARIO

  • Toronto — Famous Players’ Cumberland 4-plex (18) [La Reserve]
  • Toronto — Famous Players’ Eglinton (24)

OREGON

  • Portland — Luxury Theatres’ Fox (27)

PENNSYLVANIA

  • Feasterville — SamEric’s Eric Twin (11)
  • King of Prussia — SamEric’s Eric King Twin (11)
  • Philadelphia — SamEric’s Eric’s Place (15)

QUEBEC

  • Montreal — United’s York (10)

TEXAS

  • Dallas — Loews’ Park Central 4-plex (9)
  • Houston — Loews’ Southpoint 5-plex

WASHINGTON

  • Seattle — SRO’s Town (10)

Note that some of the presentations included in this listing were presented in 35mm during the latter weeks of engagement due to print damage and the distributor’s unwillingness to supply a 70mm replacement print or because the booking was moved to a smaller, 35mm-only auditorium within a multiplex. As well, the reverse may have been true in some cases whereas a booking began with a 35mm print because the lab was unable to complete the 70mm print order in time for an opening-day delivery or the exhibitor negotiated a mid-run switch to 70mm. In these cases, the 35mm portion of the engagement has been included in the duration figure.

 

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Poltergeist

 

THE Q&A

Mike Matessino is an accomplished music producer, mixer, editor, mastering engineer and film music historian and has been associated with dozens of CD soundtrack projects. His Jerry Goldsmith-scored CD projects include The Sand Pebbles, Alien and Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and Spielberg/Goldsmith projects include Poltergeist, Twilight Zone: The Movie, Gremlins and Innerspace. Other Spielberg/Amblin CD projects include Jaws, 1941, The Goonies, Back to the Future, Empire of the Sun, Jurassic Park and A.I.: Artificial Intelligence. Non-Spielberg, non-Goldsmith CD projects include Star Wars, Superman and Home Alone. As well, he was the Restoration Supervisor for The Director’s Edition of Star Trek: The Motion Picture and directed behind-the-scenes documentaries on The Sound of Music, Alien, The Last Starfighter, and John Carpenter’s The Thing, which have been included as added value material on some of those films’ LaserDisc, DVD and/or Blu-ray releases.

Mike Matessino

---

Michael Coate (The Digital Bits): In what way should Poltergeist be remembered on its 35th anniversary?

Mike Matessino: Find a little suburban pub and order a white lady, of course! Poltergeist is a classic and sits alongside all of the other genre films that were released in the summer of 1982, which is widely recognized as an amazing year for movies. There have been sequels and remakes but in this case the original stands on its own and is still just a great, solid movie in every respect.

Coate: What did you think of Poltergeist? Can you recall your reaction to the first time you saw it? Is your opinion of the movie the same today as it was upon first viewing?

Matessino: I loved it when I first saw and still do. But I have to discuss E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial to put it in proper context, because I had the interesting experience of seeing E.T. first, at a Memorial Day weekend preview.

That remains one of the most astounding experiences I ever had at a movie theater. I went in thinking it might be a sweet and low-key little family film that I would see once or twice, but as it played it became clear that there was a power and a resonance to it that was palpable. I was already a great admirer of Steven Spielberg, especially Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and so I could see how E.T. took some of the ideas from that film and focused them down to a very personal level, and it felt almost like a sequel to me. There were some very profound ideas about family, childhood and matters of the heart that come through probably more powerfully than the filmmakers realized they would. Everything seemed completely real, and by the time the movie reached its climax there was a feeling of transcending the cinema medium. You could feel it in the audience. They screamed when the bikes took off and applauded extensively at the start of and again at the end of the credits. But then we all went back into a world that had little collective awareness of this movie.

I went back to school on Tuesday and started talking about it, wearing the pin that had been handed out that said ”I saw E.T.” and I remember a girl I liked asking me what E.T. was. When I said it’s the new Spielberg film, she said, ”You mean Poltergeist?” So that illustrates how little advance hype there was back then. But being a reader of Starlog I knew about every movie coming that summer and the next Friday, the 4th, both Poltergeist and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan opened. Since you have an interest in movie theaters, Mike, I can add that the logistical problem here was that Poltergeist had opened at more off-the-beaten-path locations, one of which was bike-able but in the opposite direction of where Star Trek opened, so it was not going to work to see both in one day. I ended up seeing Star Trek II on Friday and Poltergeist Saturday. Star Trek II opened at my beloved Movieland in Yonkers, which had been like a second home since it opened in late 1977 and which recently became Alamo Drafthouse. Close Encounters was one of the movies that opened when the theater did and it was the only place in Westchester County to see it in Dolby Stereo. On that same screen I first saw Alien, Star Trek: The Motion Picture and the E.T. preview (and it played at this theater until December), so I tend to think of the place as my ”mother church.” I think Star Trek II was in the second largest house that opening day (as Raiders had been, but then later moved to the big theater). I really loved Trek II and still do, but then as now I like Star Trek: The Motion Picture more for a variety of reasons. That’s a different topic, of course. Anyway, I saw Poltergeist the next day in Bronxville at the same theater where I’d first seen Jaws. Unfortunately, in 1980 this great neighborhood theater was split into a triplex. But the point of all of this is that Poltergeist immediately struck me as a companion piece to E.T. Here again was very realistic setting, one similar to E.T. (but not as exact as some people think) and I could see how Steven Spielberg had again taken some of the ideas and imagery of Close Encounters of the Third Kind and had re-focused them into a very tight and compelling ghost story. After E.T. opened the following week a lot of articles began appearing about the ”summer of Spielberg” and discussion about the two films as they related to each other. Both films grew out of early attempts at a Close Encounters sequel, so they have some common DNA. And I’m not the first one to group them with Close Encounters as Spielberg’s ”suburban trilogy.” In a way, Poltergeist is a nexus that connects Jaws, Close Encounters, Raiders of the Lost Ark and E.T. together, so when I look at it today I find it’s still a powerful movie on its own but carries all those connections with it. In a way I’m sorry that Poltergeist didn’t open later in the summer than it did, because I was so blown away by E.T. that I kept going to that (and of course it was easier to get to). I would have seen Poltergeist more if it had appeared later.

I did get to see it in 70mm in New York City on a pretty spectacular day that started with a double feature retrospective of Jaws and Close Encounters, followed by E.T. (also in 70mm), followed by Poltergeist. It was one hell of a summer that also had re-issues of Raiders and Star Wars. Poltergeist eventually came to Movieland in October when it was recirculated for Halloween, and then there was a re-issue the following spring right before Return of the Jedi opened. So I was able to see it multiple times and it was always satisfying.

Coate: In what way is Poltergeist significant among the horror genre?

Matessino: Poltergeist, of course, dispensed with the creaky old mansion settings for ghost stories and was set in a 5-year old house in a modern suburban development. This carries with it a lot of subtext because old mansions are usually either inherited or they get so dilapidated that they only attract people who are misfits in some way. The vibe of Cuesta Verde in Poltergeist, on the other hand, is that average people have worked hard to afford to buy a home here, away from the city and crime in order to raise families in a safe environment. So there is a sense that you are in total control of something that you’ve worked hard to possess. To have that subverted by a ghostly presence therefore resonates on a different level than if it’s in an old mansion where you are more apt to feel powerless against the age and history of the place. There is nothing outwardly creepy about the Poltergeist house. Even in movies like The Exorcist, the townhouse in Georgetown is photographed to look ominous at times. The next thing Poltergeist does is bring science into it to investigate the manifestations rather than just having a séance or something. Interestingly I think one of the first times that was done was in The Legend of Hell House, written by Richard Matheson and based on his novel. He had also written the Twilight Zone episode Little Girl Lost, which was an inspiration for Poltergeist. Matheson had also written Duel and then went on to work again with Spielberg on the Twilight Zone movie, so there is a through-line there as well. Poltergeist then goes a step further. Where it could have just been all jump scares and visual effects from that point, it instead introduces discussion of the metaphysical and the spiritual. By the time the psychic medium character, Tangina, comes into it and delivers her monologue, you feel really invested and it goes beyond the story at hand. You find yourself contemplating the whole idea of the spirt realm and the existence of ghosts, which is extremely ambitious for a genre that has so often just given us 90 minutes of people doing stupid things sprinkled with ”boo!” moments and gore. Those things are there in Poltergeist, but they are restrained in order that the Grand Guignol finale actually feels like a climax. So to summarize, Poltergeist has a lot of social commentary and can spark discussion about other subjects. It sets a pretty high bar as a horror movie.

Coate: What is your take on the “Who directed Poltergeist?” issue?

Matessino: My take is that Spielberg, along with Kathy Kennedy and Frank Marshall, had just set up Amblin Entertainment and Poltergeist was going to be the production that established a template for what movies the company was going to make and how. The movie doesn’t say ”Amblin” on it but if you look at the novelization you’ll find it has a 1981 Amblin Enterprises copyright (the first official Amblin production was actually Continental Divide that same year). Amblin was located at MGM at the time, which is where Poltergeist interiors were filmed, so it was easy for Spielberg to oversee. He had come up with the story, and done a rewrite of the screenplay, worked with the storyboard artist to plot out the camera angles, and then, at the back end, supervised the post production including the editing (which was done by his own usual editor, Michael Kahn, who did not do E.T.), the visual effects and the scoring. So right there you have a variety of factors that would make it impossible for the film to not exude Spielberg’s creative influence. Tobe Hooper certainly directed principal photography, but his job was to make the movie Spielberg wanted. The problem was that Steven was very excited by the movie and his enthusiasm can reach a level where it just takes over a room or a set. Hooper also departed the project after he delivered his cut in October 1981, so there was a long way to go between then and the release of the picture. Some missteps certainly happened with the trailers and some of the press about it, but at the end of the day that was all smoothed over. I liken the situation to Gone With the Wind, which to this day we think of as David Selznick’s film and not Victor Fleming’s, and The Thing From Another World, which we think of as Howard Hawks’ movie and not Christian Nyby’s. There was clearly a creative partnership between Spielberg and Hooper, and if you look at Hooper’s other films you can recognize his imprint on Poltergeist, but the odds were stacked against him for the finished movie avoiding a tangible Spielberg vibe. The fact that it opened a week before E.T., along with the connections to Close Encounters I mentioned, only adds to that feeling.

Coate: Some viewers might find Jerry Goldsmith’s musical score out of place given Spielberg’s longtime collaboration with John Williams. Can you discuss Goldsmith’s contribution to the film and where you think his Poltergeist score ranks among his body of work?

Matessino: Poltergeist is a perfectly scored movie. There is not one single note that is out of place. For me it’s right up there with my other favorite, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which is a score that, in places, is a second cousin to Poltergeist. Jerry recorded some cues and sections for Poltergeist that were not used, and while they work great on the expanded soundtrack album, each decision made for the movie was the correct one. The early part of the film feels completely realistic, so that when the music comes back with the ”They’re here!” scene, you feel that the score is the voice of the spirits. There are a few sequences to particularly note Jerry’s genius. The first is in The Jewelry, which plays under the family’s attempt to contact the vanished Carol Anne for the parapsychologists. Visually we basically see people just standing around a room, but Jerry finds the ache in Diane’s heart and Carol Anne’s fear and takes you through an array of emotions. It’s pretty incredible. Then later we get the astonishing 15 minutes of music that covers Carol Anne’s rescue. The aforementioned monologue delivered by Tangina is remarkably scored, again allowing you to cast your mind beyond the story to a lot of bigger ideas. After that we get an unbroken four-minute shot that is little more than four people standing in a hallway. But Jerry seems to score the chaos of what’s going on where Carol Anne is, allowing us to imagine it without having it shown to us. It’s also incredible how there are moments of beauty in the score that accompany some terrifying situations. So then when the horrific cues for the finale come in, he’s able to cut loose and deliver some very scary music. There is a longing lullaby at the heart of this score, of course, which plays into the feeling of safety and security that one should feel as a child in the film’s suburban setting. This had been attempted before in scores like Sybil by Leonard Rosenman and The Amityville Horror by Lalo Schifrin, but it was the perfect approach for Poltergeist. Had E.T. not come out the same year, I think Poltergeist would have earned Jerry his second Oscar, which he richly deserved. The performance of the score is also great. It was mostly players from the Los Angeles Philharmonic. I should also point out that it’s entirely acoustic. There are no electronics at all, which Jerry began to use much more extensively right after this. There are a lot of electronics in Poltergeist II, which has a very different sound.

Coate: What are your thoughts on the Poltergeist sequels and recent remake? How do they compare to the original?

Matessino: I think the sequels and remake were approached with a genuine interest in doing something with the material, but because Spielberg was not involved with them they went in a different direction and the distinctive tone is absent. One thing I don’t particularly like is that the first sequel really completely changed the story and explained the spirits and the “beast” by introducing the fanatical preacher character. Not that this is an inherently bad story idea, but I don’t like it when I encounter casual viewers who apply this to the first film, because that’s simply not what’s happening in it. If you look at it, it’s clear that the spirits are those whose headstones were removed and are in a state of limbo because new homes have been built on that land and families are living there. The beast is a supernatural entity holding these lost souls at bay and snatching Carol Anne to do so. I appreciate some things in Poltergeist III technically because it was all done with practical effects and it didn’t try to capture the feel of the first film, but I find it hard to watch knowing that Heather O’Rourke was already not doing well when it was made. By that time we were also getting so many horror series with multiple sequels that it felt like an attempt was being made to capitalize on a recognized title. The remake attempted some interesting things, although adding in the Fright Night element didn’t quite work for me, and it’s an interesting experiment in the way the remake of The Omen was, but the original film is just much more than a horror film — it captures a moment in American culture of the early ‘80s that really gives you something to think about. I don’t know that it’s really possible to capture that again. As I said earlier, the original stands on its own as completely solid and totally satisfying experience.

Coate: What is the legacy of Poltergeist?

Matessino: Poltergeist broke ghost story tropes with its modern suburban setting and will always be known for doing so. It was an essential project in the creation of Steven Spielberg’s company, Amblin Entertainment, and it’s also indispensable when it comes to examining Spielberg’s body of work because it was a very personal project for him. It sets the bar very high for its genre, offering top production values, visual effects that still hold up and includes elements of social commentary and metaphysical contemplation that remain relevant and timeless. It’s a perfect example of a project that can never be duplicated and never be repeated, except by viewers going back for another trip into the light.

Coate: Thank you, Mike, for sharing your thoughts on Poltergeist on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of its release.

--END--

All figures and data included in this article pertain to the United States and Canada except where stated otherwise.

 

IMAGES

Selected images copyright/courtesy MGM/UA, MGM Home Entertainment, Warner Home Video.

 

SOURCES/REFERENCES

The primary references for this project were regional newspaper coverage and trade reports published in Boxoffice, The Hollywood Reporter and Variety.

 

SPECIAL THANKS

Don Beelik, Bobby Henderson, Bill Kretzel, Monty Marin, Mike Matessino, J. Thomas, Vince Young, and to all of the librarians who assisted with the research for this project.

 

IN MEMORIAM

Dominique Dunne (“Dana Freeling”), 1959-1982
Heather O’Rourke (“Carol Anne Freeling”), 1975-1988
Beatrice Straight (“Dr. Lesh”), 1914-2001
Jerry Goldsmith (Music), 1929-2004
Lou Perry (“Pugsley”), 1941-2009
Zelda Rubinstein (“Tangina Barrons”), 1933-2010
Robert Broyles (“Pool Worker #1”), 1933-2011
Bill Varney (Re-recording Mixer), 1934-2011
Clair Leucart (“Bulldozer Driver”), 1936-2011

 

-Michael Coate

Michael Coate can be reached via e-mail through this link. (You can also follow Michael on social media at these links: Twitter and Facebook)

 

Poltergeist (Blu-ray Disc)

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