Fans of the original Poltergeist have been waiting for years to see if the proposed reboot of the film would happen. Finally the film is moving forward and it should hit theatres in early 2015 according to the latest release date put out by the studio. The new film won’t resemble the original film very much though. Fans who expect a recreation of the original film will be disappointed. The new Poltergeist film is all about a new family, the Bowens. Eric Bown needs a fresh start so he moves his family to a new town. His young daughter Madeleine is kidnapped, and Bowen’s wife and his ex-wife who both are involved in the paranormal use supernatural methods to try and get her back. Some of the famous plot devices used in the original film, such as the family home being located on top of a graveyard full of angry spirits, seem to be missing from the reboot.
Part of the appeal of the Poltergeist film is that there are so many elements in it that iconic reminders of the 80s. In the original film Steven Freeling, the father of the family, is a real estate developer working for one of the large companies that was creating planned communities in the 80s. The family moves into one of the planned communities only to find their life suddenly plagued with paranormal activity. Many of the scares in the original film seem almost like B movie scare devices now but were very scary then. Once the Beast who kidnaps Carol Anne in the film is revealed to be the terrifying corpse-like figure of a doomsday style preacher everyone watching the film was scared. The reboot won’t have those 80s elements but it will have a lot of modern scare devices like CGI enhancements and slick film editing.
So many of the scares in Poltergeist come from nearly universal scary elements that almost any paranormal film could be said to be a reboot of Poltergeist. Modern paranormal films have gotten the truly terrifying down a science and they know how to employ minimalist effects to let audiences be scared by their own imaginations. Paranormal Activity used many of the scare tactics used in Poltergeist and like the original Poltergeist it’s considered to be one of the scariest films ever made. That’s not a coincidence.
But another part of the fear factor that is associated with the original Poltergeist film is that the film itself was supposedly cursed. The production used real human skeletons for many of the scenes in the film like the scene were Diane Freeland nearly drowned in the families unfilled backyard pool and in the house scene where skeletons were popping out of coffins all over the neighborhood. The actors didn’t know the skeletons were real at the time, they thought the skeletons were plastic fakes. But at the time it was cheaper to buy real human skeletons than fake ones so the crew used real skeletons. Is it possible that spirits attached to those skeletons caused havoc for the cast and crew of the film?
It’s possible. And the cast and crew ended up having a long string of close calls and near-death experiences. The actor playing Robbie was nearly choked to death when the mechanical clown doll that came to life in one of the scariest scenes in the movie actually choked him after malfunctioning. The actress who played Dana Freeling was tragically murdered right after the film was released. And the young actress who played Carol Anne Freeling, the youngest child who was kidnapped by the supernatural entity known as The Beast, died after complications from an illness no one knew she had at just 12 years old.
Paranormal based horror films always do well because the fear of the unknown and the fear of the supernatural are so ingrained in humans. Even though the film isn’t a faithful retelling of the original story it should still be a big draw for horror fans. But whether or not the new Poltergeist film has enough references to the original film to please the die-hard fans of the original remains to be seen.