Here’s our good friend Andrew Dunn with our very first Fake Movie Friday submission. Enjoy
Inspired by ‘The Making of Psycho’ I figured I’d create another making of movie but for a film that actually has some behind the scenes drama. There is controversy to this day over how much of ‘Poltergeist’ Spielberg directed versus the credited director Tobe Hooper. Add to that the “curse” of Poltergeist. Many (read ‘idiots’) believe the deaths of multiple actors associated with the film is evidence of a paranormal curse. So here goes.
The Curse of Poltergeist
We open on a young (10 or 11) Steven Spielberg, played by one of the kids from ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ in bed with a flashlight. He is scared. The flashlight explores the room, illuminating things like a creepy clown doll, all things that will make their way into ‘Poltergeist’, because that’s how creativity works. A tree branch scratching at the window acts as a jump scare, and we cut to-
A quick montage of an older Spielberg, played by Ryan Gosling, early movie success. suddenly we cut to a chainsaw, we have no idea what is happening until the camera pulls back and we figure out we are simply watching ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ in an almost empty theater, the camera focuses on one audience member, Spielberg who gives a sly smile.
Tobe Hooper, played by Bill Moseley, gets a call from an excited Spielberg who explains how much he loves his Chainsaw film and how he would be perfect to direct an idea he has been working on. He wants Hooper to bring the terror he was able to create to a different setting, that of the suburbs. Spielberg makes it clear that he will act as a producer and Hooper will be director, explaining that he will be busy shooting another film (E.T.) and doesn’t have time to do it himself and has full faith in Hooper. For legal reasons he never explicitly names E.T., instead referring to it as ‘this alien picture’.
The film follows a bit of the preproduction and casting, the cast of the film (Craig T. Nelson etc) will be played by people that look a lot like them, but maybe aren’t the best actors (but the kids are from ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ so they are awesome). The first day of shooting gets awkward when Spielberg shows up on set and begins giving the actors direction. This was not what Hooper was expecting. Hooper becomes very withdrawn, focusing on technical aspects of the film, leaving Spielberg to do all of the creative.
Hooper becomes more and more bitter, and things begin to go wrong on set. Special effects will go off too early (providing a lot of jump scares), cameras malfunction, finished film is misplaced/ ruined. Hooper is visibly frazzled but never explicitly voices his concerns, preferring to be passive aggressive and being more withdrawn.
‘Poltergeist’ is almost finished and Hooper and Spielberg watch an early edit. Spielberg asks Hooper what he thinks, and he says it is great, but-. Things get heated when Hooper explains that any director would be proud to put their names on a film of this quality, but that’s because it is a Spielberg film, not his. There is yelling and Hooper leaves.
Things take a weird turn here and the movie begins to feel like ‘Final Destination’ as we follow former cast members die in unexpected ways. Heather O’Rourke (the little girl) dies of septic shock when she is only 12. Dominique Dunne (one of the children) is choked into a coma
by her boyfriend and dies weeks later. We see the deaths of Julian Beck (stomach cancer) and Will Sampson (complications from a lung transplant) even though he was only in Poltergeist II.
Tobe Hooper is watching TV in a dark room. The news is on, and a familiar face appears on screen. It is an older Spielberg talking about his new movie ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’ and how it was a return to form and was such a great idea. Hooper has a knowing smile, he curse had come full circle, and was finished. The camera cuts back to the TV which abruptly goes to static. Credits.