The original 1982 Spielbergian horror film Poltergeist is one of the few scary movies of the 1980s that still, remarkably, holds up. The classic lines and images, the recollection of childhood fears (of course your closet was a portal to another dimension; of course that doll in the corner was trying to kill you); and all the creepiness attendant with exorcists, children getting sucked into the TV and ancient burial grounds – all made for one hell of a good film. So I’m not alone in regarding the plans for an MGM remake of Poltergeist with grave skepticism. But as new plot details emerge, I might – might! – be feeling a bit more optimistic.
First there’s the undoubted boon of bringing on Sam Raimi as a producer. If anyone can pull off some high quality camp horror, Raimi can. Raimi is also a co-screenwriter with David Lindsay-Abaire (Oz The Great And Powerful) – so that’s another plus. And the plot of Poltergeist will be slightly different than the original.
Rather than being the ultimate suburban family, the Bowens will have just relocated to a new town. Little Madison is abducted, whilst the wife Amy can communicate with the dead. So far, so similar. Bring on a haunted house show Haunted House Cleaners, hosted by Carrigan Burke, who show up to investigate Maddie’s disappearance. Apparently Burke’s ex-wife, a parapsychologist, will also come into play, but her role is not quite clear yet. This all means that we’re going to have Ghost Hunters meet the Bowens. Nice little twist on the original, Raimi. Kudos.
So the plot is Poltergeist 1982, but with some definite changes to fit into the Millennium. Will Raimi and Co. still maintain the original’s critique of suburban sprawl and the offenses committed by modernity on the past? Given Raimi’s previous horror outings, one would expect so.
The big question for me is how they plan on delivering the scares. They cannot simply rehash what the original did – and why would they want to? But with this plot, and Sam Raimi behind it? Yeah. I’m into it.
Casting has already begun on Poltergeist, which should start shooting in September 2013.