My Reaction to the New ‘Poltergeist

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Poltergeist 1982
“Poltergeist” was my turning point. I was 12 and home sick from school when my mom suggested we
watch this movie I had never heard of. It had to do with a little girl getting trapped in a TV, which she
failed to mention. Needless to say, by a little over an hour in she had a lap full of a 12 year-old child
who was clawing at her hair with her eyes glued to the screen.
It was in that moment that it was officially all over. I was in a very committed relationship with the
horror genre. Since then, I have watched hundreds upon hundreds of movies drenched in ichor and
screaming terror, but no movie as much as the tale of the Freelings in the quiet development of Cuesta
Verde Estates.

I tend to have an initial gut reaction to remake announcements, but few will cause me to have a real
emotional reaction. In the end, they are just movies after all. But when it is something that I feel is
part of my development, that I have a strong nostalgic connection to, I have to fight not to bare my
teeth. Why must people continue to fool with the classics?

Such was the case when I heard about the upcoming 2015 remake of “Poltergeist.” My initial reaction
was annoyance. I had to come to grips with it, though. It had only been a matter of time. All the
horror classics from the Universal Monster age on have been rehashed and up for grabs several times
over, but one can hope that maybe, just maybe, their most cherished memories would remain
untarnished. That there would come a day when remakes would die out and enough was enough. So
after my initial prickle of anger, I was once again able to take a breath and give it a chance.
Can you blame me for my hesitation? Reboots and remakes have a spotty track record at best in every
genre, with horror being no exception. For every 2004 “Dawn of the Dead,” there is a 2010
“Nightmare on Elm Street.” It leaves you with a general sense of trepidation, of wishing people would
just leave things alone. But the world of the remake is still going strong, so we must make the best of
it.

Poltergeist 2015

It makes sense that “Poltergeist” has finally come around again. The hot ticket of the moment is creepy
kids and toys, (“The Conjuring,” “The Babadook,”) and “Poltergeist” offers a heaping helping of both.
It also is a refreshing change of pace from other trapped-in-a-house or possession movies. The use of
electrical energy as conduits of otherworldly communication is sorely underutilized in my opinion,
which helps the film stand out. But still the truth remains. “Poltergeist” had a talented cast, iconic images and practical visual effects that still hold up in a CGI-laden world. Producer Sam Raimi and
director Gil Kenan have big shoes to fill.

The first thing that made me sigh with relief was Sam Rockwell, which I knew was in the film before
the trailer came out. In the role of Eric Bowen, (formerly Steve Freeling, the children’s father,) I am
sure he will nail it, as he nails everything. Rockwell also seems very discerning of the projects he takes
on, which further quells my fears.

Another wise choice in my opinion is taking small steps away from the original, without moving too far
away for fellow purists. It is extremely intelligent. By creating a bit of distance with name changes,
genders and national origins, you then have a lower chance of people being able to seriously compare
things while at the same time being respectful to the 1982 film. No one could replace Heather
O’Rourke as the cherubic Carolanne, or Zelda Rubinstein as the powerful and motherly psychic
Tangina. As simple of a change as making the child brunette helps with this, as does taking a serious
left turn with the psychic by hiring British actor Jared Harris. Honestly, how could anyone step into
Tangina’s shoes? Best to go the complete opposite, make it a tall Irishman named Corrigan, and leave
it at that.

All of this combined with the use of definitive “Poltergeist” staples – i.e. that EFFING clown – along
with the famous tagline “It knows what scares you,” makes reticence become piqued interest. What I
see in the trailer for 2015’s “Poltergeist” remake is not only an engaging film, but a respectful reimagining.
“Poltergeist,” starring Sam Rockwell, Jared Harris and presented by Sam Raimi will be released
nationwide on July 24, 2015.

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