The Original Poltergeist (1982) Teaser

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by Halfwit, May 10, 2019.

  1. Halfwit

    Halfwit Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I was searching for this for years. I saw this trailer back in 1982, and having just watched Texas Chainsaw Massacre and being scared witless by it, expected more of the same from the director, which, based on the teaser, looked to be what was in store. The week it came out however, a friend thought it would be fun to take a pile of magic mushrooms and see it tripping. I still remember walking into the cinema out of my skull, getting a flashback to this teaser and expecting another The Exorcist, and almost walking out before the film began.
    Of course Poltergeist isn't particularly horrifying or scary, outside a couple of scenes, but I never forgot this trailer. I wish they'd scored it a little more like this too, as I found the Jerry Goldsmith music a little too bombastic for the visuals.

  2. Pines Brook

    Pines Brook That sums up Squatter for me

    New York, NY
    "Of course Poltergeist isn't particularly horrifying or scary"? Maybe I'm biased because I saw it in the theater at the tender age of nine years old, but I just googled "scariest movies of all time" and Poltergeist appears on every result except one on the first page. So I can understand that anyone might have an alternate opinion, but your inclusion of "of course" is what is so odd to me, and again it wouldn't be so odd if I didn't see these kinds of "surreptiously controversial" comments all the time here. How is it "of course", when a five second search reveals that Poltergeist is indeed considered one of the scariest movies of all time?

    That teaser meanwhile, is absolutely terrible IMO. Doesn't at all give a sense of the film's quality. It looks like it was put together by somebody's amateur uncle using a few stills and maybe three seconds of footage. But anyway, why would you think based on this teaser that the film would be anything like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre? This teaser does anything but suggest "slasher flick."


    But I guess what you are really saying by dropping this teaser here is "I don't understand why people like Poltergeist, I didn't think it was scary and I didn't like the score", which is totally a fair opinion.
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  3. debased

    debased Forum Resident

    I'll never forget seeing Poltergeist in the theater one afternoon back when it was released. Due to the PG rating, a lot of young teenagers were present. To this day, it's the only film I've ever seen that had the audience flat out screaming.
  4. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Senior Member

    I thought it was plenty scary! :shrug:
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  5. JCM

    JCM Forum Resident

    Columbus, Ohio
    How much of it did Tobe Hooper shoot? Did Spielberg really take over the filming as has been rumored over the years? Always wondered.

    As a whole, the film isn't particularly terrifying but I tell you what, I was maybe 7 when I first saw it on HBO in '83 or thereabouts... Robbie's clown scared the every loving s... out of me.

    Still does.

    Oh and RIP Dominique Dunne & Heather O'Rourke
  6. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
    This has been debated for many years. Spielberg's only statement has been along the lines of, "it was an unfortunate situation for everybody concerned and I value Tobe Hooper's involvement in our film," something wishy-washy like that.

    Years latr, I spoke to one of the ILM people in charge of the VFX for Poltergeist and asked him about Tobe Hooper. He shook his head and said, "For months, Spielberg got on a plane and flew up to San Rafael to review the effects work, call for changes, and approve the storyboards and shots. Hooper was never a part of that. I never met Tobe Hooper except at the final cast & crew screening down at MGM." I also spoke to somebody who was on the set everyday, and he told me that Spielberg spoke to the cameraman about the lighting, spoke to the actors, rehearsed the actors, then nodded to Hooper who would call for quiet and the camera to roll, then he'd say cut at the end of the scene. :sigh:

    The basic problem was that Universal was reluctant to give Spielberg the money to make E.T. if he was also directing Poltergeist at the same time E.T. about to be released to theaters. So basically, Spielberg had to havw a "figurehead" in charge to honor Universal's request. It's fair to say that Hooper had some say in what went on in the movie, but I think 90% of the decisions were Spielberg's. The movie looks an awful lot like many other Spielberg films, but -- to me -- it does not look like a Tobe Hooper film.
  7. Saw it when it first came out to theaters back in '82 with all my high-school buddies & our dates. We all screamed our heads off & had a great time. If 'Poltergeist' isn't a Spielberg movie I'm Santa Claus. It's got everything his early films are famous for, and then some...

  8. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Senior Member

    Poltergeist is a great scary movie.

    On the other hand, ("Carol Anne!") Poltergeist III ("Carol Anne!") is a ("Carol Anne!") very effective ("Carol Anne!") comedy movie.

    In conclusion... "Carol Anne!".
  9. Halfwit

    Halfwit Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I didn't say I disliked Poltergeist. I enjoyed it a great deal. Not as much now as I did then, but it's a very well made film, I just don't find it particularly scary. As for Hooper, was it unreasonable of me to expect a more intense film, given that he didn't have much under his belt other than Chainsaw at that time? The reason I posted the clip was that the trailer was one thing and the finished film was something different. Not worse, just different.
  10. The teaser gave it a whole different vibe, like a scarier vibe. Kind of cool.
    More "dirty" if you know what I mean.
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  11. YardByrd

    YardByrd Forum Resident

    Expat in Helsinki
    Saw it in the cinema when it came out. As a young teen, it certainly made me jump multiple times. Still one of my fave horror flicks. The franchise on the other hand...
  12. Scooterpiety

    Scooterpiety Current operator of the Freedonia peanut stand

    I remember seeing it quite vividly and being truly scared. I went with a date and afterwards my arm and hand were sore from her grabbing and squeezing me all through the movie. The audience was screaming their heads off. The next audience waiting in line looked quite apprehensive when we walked into the lobby after it was over, people were still scared!
    I haven't seen it in years and I'm sure it isn't very scary by todays standards, and watching it on a TV is very different than viewing it in a theater with an audience.
    I had never seen The Exorcist until just a few years ago on TV and I did not find it scary at all. My older brother saw it in the theater when it came out and I remember he slept with his light on for a few days afterward!
    Last edited: May 11, 2019
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  13. ssmith3046

    ssmith3046 Forum Resident

    I saw it when it was released and enjoyed it very much although I didn't think it was very scary.
  14. ssmith3046

    ssmith3046 Forum Resident

    I saw The Exorcist when it was released and that one kind of creeped me out.
  15. Frozensoda

    Frozensoda Forum Resident

    the scene that starts with the meat on the counter.
    Here’s me at 10 years old watching that scene, “Ugh, what is? Oh ugh, MAGGOTS?!?
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  16. Dude111

    Dude111 An Awesome Dude

    A good movie!!!!!!
  17. the pope ondine

    the pope ondine Forum Resident

    that was terrifying!
    I had a crush on jobeth Williams....she was everywhere 1977-1984 Kramer vs Kramer, Stir Crazy....
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  18. That’s because it was really directed—with some of Tobe’s assistance—by Steven Spielberg.
  19. Johnny66

    Johnny66 Black Shuck

    I recall a theatrical screening of 'Batman and Robin' (1997) having the exact same effect.
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  20. Ghostworld

    Ghostworld Forum Resident


    No man. As a teen with acne, the bathroom mirror scene got me.
  21. Ghostworld

    Ghostworld Forum Resident

    I know. That’s a classic b-movie trailer! Interviews with “experts?” A couple stills? Horrible!
    Pines Brook likes this.
  22. Manimal

    Manimal Forum Resident

    Southern US
    Me too. Chills galore.
  23. ries

    ries Forum Resident

    I loved Poltergeist when it came out, and I still play it occasionally, its was a great showcase for ILM. I remember renting it on VHS and the guy behind the counter advising me to watch it in the dark (actually you should do that with any movie).

    I recommend the novelisation of the film, it uses unused scene's from the original script, like what happening to Diane when she enters the spirit world.
    Encuentro likes this.
  24. PTB

    PTB Active Member

    Los Angeles
    There is a reason we do not go to the ILM people to ask who directed the film. All principle photography was over by the time period that individual who worked on the VFX gives an account of, and the director’s work was essentially over by that point. Yes, Spielberg handled the VFX shooting in San Rafael, but that is not the directing of the movie. Everything was shot by that point, it was merely the shooting of the optical effects that needed to be overlaid. That individual can speak to who was communicating to them about what the effects should look like, but they cannot speak to who directed the film. That’s not even to mention the fact it proves nothing that Hooper was not in direct talks with Spielberg to discuss what the effects should look like. Case in point, the staircase ghost was not supposed to be a female ghost at all in the script Spielberg drafted. It may very well have been Hooper who suggested the idea to Spielberg, seeing as it’s directly influenced by the film The Uninvited, a film the cinema-literate, ghost-fixated Hooper had surely seen (jury is out on Spielberg and these ILM people, as a production anecdote has them talk about Spielberg showing them Robert Wise's The Haunting for a ghost reference... a film that famously never shows a ghost manifested!; meanwhile, Hooper's first feature film involves a ghostly presence and he'd been meeting mediums and parapsychologists for years prior in order to write his ghost film). Hooper and Spielberg probably discussed what the effects should look like extensively by that point, it only took relaying these decisions to ILM. Meanwhile, during this same time frame, Hooper was busy in the editing room putting together his director's cut. If I was a director who had to choose whether to prioritize overseeing monster looks and optical overlays or editing their footage, I'd go with editing my footage.

    Rumors and perspectives have been constantly spread by anonymous people who “were on the set,” but no one can speak with any substantial detail except the actors, a good 99% who say Hooper was the one directing them, blocking them, and doing every single thing a director is supposed to be doing. These anonymous crew members may clearly be working under worked-up memories and misapprehensions on a highly hectic set (one that had crew members bouncing from soundstage to soundstage just to keep up with the schedule, surely not the most conducive environment for a random crew member to take full account of who was directing and rehearsing actors), a set in which Spielberg the producer took advice from the only person on set who had as much say as him - that's right, that would be Hooper, the director. Last thing I'll mention is how often the film diverges from Spielberg's own script and even the storyboards they laid out in pre-production (Hooper and Spielberg together), decisions that seem to constantly take the tone of the film to different, more unique places.

    Hooper came up with the very idea of making a ghost film. Spielberg was going to produce a film called Night Skies about an alien threat and asked Hooper to direct it. Hooper said he wanted to do a ghost story. They then went on to write the first treatment together. Hooper was always attached to direct and that nonsense about the DGA barring Spielberg from directing would only be accurate if Spielberg planned on taking the film away from Hooper after it was promised to him and after Hooper spent half a year helping develop the film - from treatment to shooting script - with Spielberg.

    It was not. The claim it feels more like a Spielberg film is a complete fiction, as there are just as many Hooper trademarks as there are Spielberg ones. The film would've had far more comic elements if you look closely at the script Spielberg wrote. If we listen to the actors, it sounds far more like Spielberg was the helper and tool of which Hooper utilized to make his (Hoopers) film.
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  25. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
    I think the statute of limitations has expired, so I can reveal that it was actor Marty Casella who told me at lunch in Santa Monica with a friend of mine that Spielberg was the only one who rehearsed them and made all the creative decisions as to camera positions, blocking, lenses, and told DP Matt Leonetti how he wanted the scene to be lit, for every day he was there. Casella was the "assistant" to the ghost-hunting scientists who rips his own face off in the bathroom; he had some great stories about Spielberg standing behind him and actually tearing the bloody makeup off, so the hands you see on-screen are actually Spielberg's hands and not Casella's hands.


    This was in December of 1982, about six months after the film was released. A friend of mine and I interviewed Casella for a proposed book about Spielberg that we developed from 1982-1984; the first couple of chapters wound up as cover stories in Video Review magazine in early 1983. Casella had a lot of details about what happened, and while he said that Tobe Hooper was "involved" with production, he gave me the impression that Spielberg had roughly 80% of the control in the decision-making process on the set and was the de facto director.

    This article says this:

    Zelda Rubenstein, who plays the film’s creepy spiritual medium, told AICN, “I can tell you that Steven directed all six days I was there. I only worked six days on the film and Steven was there.” Casting Director Mike Fenton was quoted as saying, “Did [Tobe Hooper] direct the film? Not that I saw.” Star Craig T. Nelson defended Hooper, saying that “Tobe gave me a lot of direction. It’s not fair to eliminate what Tobe did,” while another of the film’s stars, JoBeth Williams, said, “It was a collaboration with Steven having the final say.”

    I think the two lead actors are being politically-correct (and respectful), and I think they're saying the same thing I am only a little more kindly.

    Assistant camera operator John Leonetti tells the same story, that Spielberg told the camera crew where to put the camera, what lens he wanted, and how he wanted the scene lit and blocked:

    Steven Spielberg Directed ‘Poltergeist,’ Says the Film’s Assistant Cameraman

    Composer Jerry Goldsmith also says he only worked with Spielberg on the score to Poltergeist:

    So you worked mainly with Spielberg? What about director Tobe Hooper? He was not involved at all with post-production. That was all strictly with Steven, and I worked very closely with him.

    Jerry Goldsmith on Poltergeist and NIMH

    I don't have a dog in this hunt: I think Hooper made some good films, I think Spielberg has made all kinds of films and TV shows (good and bad), but the published books on the directors and this film stick pretty close to the same story we heard. (I can't reveal the name of the ILM exec who gave me his side of the story, because he's still employed there, 37 years later. But he was adamant that Hooper never set foot in the building.) I don't take stuff like this personally, nor do I want to slander a dead man. But this is not exactly a secret.
    Last edited: May 15, 2019

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