“They’re Back”: Poltergeist Remake Now Official
MGM is hoping to solve some of its financial difficulties with a remake of the classic 1982 ghost story, Poltergeist. The original film was produced and co-written by Steven Spielberg and directed by Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Salem’s Lot) and was one of the 10 highest grossing films of 1982 as well as the highest grossing horror movie of the 1980’s.
The story of the classic film about a middleclass suburban family whose home is invaded by evil ghost who are at first playful but then abduct the youngest child, Carol Anne (Heather O’Rourke), was created by Spielberg as the dark side of his other 1982 hit, E.T.-The Extra Terrestrial. Okay, Poltergeist was a hit, E.T. a phenomena, surpassing Star Wars as the highest grossing film of all time. Poltergeist grossed about $75,000,000 and was third behind E.T.-The Extra Terrestrial and Star Trek II-The Wrath of Khan as the biggest summer movie of 1982. Little Heather O’ Rourke’s line “They’re here!” became a cultural catch phrase. The film also starred Jobeth Williams and Craig T. Nelson as the parents, Diane and Seven Freeling, and Dominique Dunne and Oliver Robins as Carol Anne’s older sister and brother, Dana and Robbie.
Sam Raimi, the director of the Evil Dead and Spiderman films, is serving as one of the film’s producers and a little known director named Gil Kenan will be shooting the film from a screenplay by David Lindsay-Abaire, which from what I’ve read will borrow heavily from the original screenplay by Spielberg, Michael Grais and Mark Victor. Kenan directed the animated film Monster House, which was executive produced by Steven Spielberg, As with the original Poltergeist’s two sequels, neither Spielberg nor Hooper have any involvement with this remake.
MGM put out a press release to attract young actors to read for the role of the three children. In this new film the family name is Bowen with the children named Kendra, Griffin and Madison. Character descriptions reveal that the three characters are essentially Dana, Robbie and Carol Anne, but with different names. The only difference appears to be that Kendra Bowen will be between 13 to 15 years old, were as Dana Freeling played by Dominique Dunne was 16.
The original Poltergeist was the collaboration of a cinematic genius (Steven Spielberg) and true master of horror (Tobe Hooper) and featured a great cast and special effects that are still stunning after 31 years. Spielberg’s gift with character and story and Hooper’s horror sensibilities was a major factor as to why the original film remains so good after over three decades and it’s doubtful that Raimi, Kenan and company will be able to recapture that magic.
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