Poltergeist might have been the first time I was ever truly scared by a movie.
Of course I grew up on a solid diet of Universal Studios movie monsters along with an array of black and white horrors from Hammer shown on late-night TV. But in all of those, no matter how high the creep factor, it was fairly clear that these stories depicted reel reality, not real reality.
But then along came little Carol Anne Freeling and her off-air television.
Suddenly, all “real” scary stuff was up there on the screen; the craggy dead tree knocking against your bedroom window, lightning storms looming ever closer, the half-open closet door…
And the clown… under the bed.
I mean come on, Vincent Price as The Fly was enough to make you watch at least part of it through splayed fingers, but deep down you knew a fly with a human head was pretty darn unlikely.
But an evil clown under your bed? Entirely plausible.
To this day, even as low-tech as it now appears, Poltergeist still gives me a shudder. It knew what scared us alright.
So it is with some trepidation that I remind you that a reboot of Tobe Hopper’s original fright fest is due to hit theaters on July 24th, in 3D no less.
Produced by Sam Raimi and directed by third-timer Gil Keenan (Monster House and City of Ember being his other two) this new Poltergeist brings the original storyline forward into 2015.
Psychic cleanser Tangina, unforgettably portrayed by Zelda Rubinstein, is replaced by Carrigan Burkea larger than life TV personality who left the world of academia behind to become the star host of basic cable TV show “Haunted House Cleaners.”
Think Ghost Adventures and Zach Baggins.
Once again the story revolves around a family of five whose suburban home is invaded by angry spirits and who call in Burke when they feel he is the only one who will believe them that their daughter has been “taken” and is capable of bringing her back.
The Freeling family is now the Bowen family and Carol Anne is now called Madison, and though Madison’s television never goes off the air in 2015, a 60” flat screen without a digital signal provides the perfect portal for the updated version of “the TV people.”
And of course… there’s another clown.
Last week USA Today released a still from the rebooted Poltergeist and what did they choose?
That damn clown of course.
I just don’t know how I feel about rebooting Poltergeist. It was pretty darn perfect as it was. And though a parent from the 1980’s might have put a pseudo Bozo doll in their kids’ room without worrying about the psychological damage, I’m pretty sure a parent in 2015 wouldn’t let this thing within a city block of their child.
So the realism is kind of blown right there if you ask me.
And maybe modern audiences see Hopper’s version as their own “reel reality” rather the “real reality” so they need this reboot in order be drawn into the story.
But with all first-person horror movies like the Paranormal Activity series and Unfriended to choose from these days, it’s hard to imagine that a Poltergeist reboot is going to do anything but fall flat into its half-dug-swimming-pool-in-an-ancient-Indian-burial-ground grave.
I just can’t decide if this is ok, or a train wreck – so have a look for yourself and tell us what you think by posting a comment or dropping a line to firstname.lastname@example.org.