While my headline comes from the grossly under-appreciated and underrated musical “Spice World,” the film for today isn’t British nor is it a musical and nor is it about a bunch of women. But today’s movie is about a big, old, scary haunted house. While “Amityville Horror” was shot in my hometown (the remake) and a neighboring town (the original), it isn’t the big old house I’m about to write about today. Instead, today’s movie is one of the most cursed series in all of horror: “Poltergeist.”
I’ll admit that it took me a long time to see this film. It weirdly never crossed my mind or my screen, which meant it didn’t come to be something I felt needed to be seen. It actually was this past summer that I first saw it; I watched after viewing Shudder’s series on cursed horror films. I hadn’t seen the remake of the film either. I really only knew what others told me or what appeared in blogs I read. So my reading and writing of this film is still infantile.
To start, I love seeing Spielberg both as a screenwriter and producer on a horror film. It further validates the genre. Second, I love the lore that comes with this film and how creepy, cultish and crazy what followed it was. Lastly, I hate clowns, so getting to see one in a horror film makes it that much scarier for me.
Yet, these three pieces don’t make the film for me.
It’s Heather O’Rourke that makes the film for me.
She takes the movie from being about a haunted house to being a supernatural powerhouse with childhood and imagination at the center.
Additionally, this film had tremendous effects, no surprise with Spielberg attached, but it is under Tobe Hooper’s leadership that the creative vision of the film fully came to fruition. The effects were even nominated for an Academy Award, one they lost to Spielberg’s “E.T.” The rich use of effects in this film enhance the overall narrative so effectively that you never know where the effects end and the real world begins. That’s a good film.
As a bonus, you get some incredible work from the late Zelda Rubinstein. She won a Saturn award for her role in this film.