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To her, The Behind the Scenes Pic of the Day simply is another child. To us, it is The Beast.

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s Behind the Scenes Pic!

Poltergeist is one of my favorite movies and indeed my very first movie memory. The tone, music, effects, script, casting, pacing, photography and sound design are tip of the top as far as I’m concerned. I love how the family is that great Spielbergian middle class suburban family unit forced to deal with some very nasty ghostly hostiles. I love how the film balances the feeling of awe and the stark terror of the supernatural. In short, I just love this movie.

There’s been a geek debate for almost 30 years now on just how much influence Steven Spielberg had on the film. You have to admit that the movie looks and feels much more like a Spielberg movie than a Tobe Hooper movie. I’ve met Hooper, a super nice guy, by the way, and he insisted that Poltergeist is his movie. Naturally. But I also got to know Zelda Rubinstein in the last few years of her life and she was very vocal about her dislike of Hooper from the initial audition process and told me, on the record no less, that she shot for 6 days on this movie and was never directed by anybody other than Spielberg.

I’ve heard this from other crew members as well and all the behind the scenes material seems to be Spielberg-centric, including the two pics I’m running today.

The first pic has Spielberg playing with a skeleton and the second is a line-up behind camera.

I especially love that second pic with Spielberg looking calm, cool and collected (and even slightly worried) and Tobe Hooper looking like he just saw his dead grandmother crawl naked out of a fiery hole in the ground with a rusty knife clenched in her pointy cannibal’s teeth.

Thanks to Bill Whirity for digging these pics up! Click to embiggen!





If you have a behind the scenes shot you’d like to submit to this column, you can email me at

Tomorrow’s behind the scenes pic features a temporal paradox!

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  • May 31, 2011, 4:44 p.m. CST

    I agree.The movie looks as it has been made more by SS

    by KilliK

    than Hooper.and that's a good thing since the movie kicks ass.But the series and the sequels are unwatchable.

  • May 31, 2011, 4:46 p.m. CST

    It's obviously a Spielberg movie.


    The ghosts rape the house after the developers rape the land. Duh. /genderblender'd

  • May 31, 2011, 4:46 p.m. CST


    by fimano

    "Tobe Hooper looking like he just saw his dead grandmother crawl naked out of a fiery hole in the ground with a rusty knife clenched in her pointy cannibal’s teeth." Fucking classic. And first!

  • May 31, 2011, 4:46 p.m. CST


    by fimano

    Damn you killik!!!

  • May 31, 2011, 4:46 p.m. CST

    LOL @Hooper in the second pic.And SS without his

    by KilliK

    beard is unrecognizable.

  • May 31, 2011, 4:48 p.m. CST

    awesome movie

    by Stifler's Mom

    that's a fascination tidbit about Zelda, by the way... thanks Quint, great pics and stories

  • May 31, 2011, 4:49 p.m. CST

    I always thought it WAS a Spielberg Film...

    by Pawprint

    Oh wow!

  • May 31, 2011, 4:49 p.m. CST

    What gives?

    by CT1

    Where's his bro shorts and trucker hat?

  • May 31, 2011, 4:50 p.m. CST

    I saw this one afternoon in high school

    by GeneralKael

    We were in a room with those desks that have one arm with a small flip up table. The teacher asked us to move the seats closer together so that everyone could see better. A pretty girl sitting next to me kept leaning over closer and closer and grabbing my arm every time something scary happened. I never liked horror movies until then and I didn't understand the appeal until that moment.

  • May 31, 2011, 4:50 p.m. CST

    Oh, and I also thought the movie was good...

    by GeneralKael

  • May 31, 2011, 4:51 p.m. CST

    Wasn't there a reason...

    by wildphantom07

    ...why he couldn't be credited as director? Something to do with a deal Spielberg had with Universal that he couldn't have his name as director within a certain time-frame?

  • May 31, 2011, 4:52 p.m. CST

    Your first movie memory Quint?

    by kurtisaurus

    Yikes Quint how old ARE you? I feel oldish now.

  • May 31, 2011, 4:52 p.m. CST

    p.s. I second the_choppah

    by kurtisaurus

    Somebody needs to finally write a freakin' tell-all about that production.

  • ...I'd believe the guy. Again, no disrespect: TCM is a horror masterpiece...

  • May 31, 2011, 4:57 p.m. CST

    Nope, It's Not Hooper's Movie...

    by Rebeck2

    It's classic Spielberg all the way. BUT Hooper has his own classic in TCM and one of the greatest horror movies ever made.

  • wow

  • May 31, 2011, 5 p.m. CST


    by Quint

    He actually does have one: Lifeforce looks a whole lot like Poltergeist. Not as slick (and big budget), but a very similar quality. At least enough to still put a kernel of doubt in my brain.

  • May 31, 2011, 5:02 p.m. CST

    Something that always bugged about this series...

    by Amazing Maurice

    Regarding the line "To her, it simply is another child. To us, it is The Beast." - I always thought that midget psychic was implying it was the Devil himself. But in the two sequels it turned out to be some wacky old preacher cunt. Lame.

  • May 31, 2011, 5:04 p.m. CST

    Poltergeist definelty feels more like a Spielberg film

    by lv_426

    even though he was only credited as a producer, which raises a weird question for me. Basically, why not just direct the damn movie yourself then Stevie? I don't mean to sound like a jerk, but I have to pose the question. Lucas sort of did the same thing with Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Even though the other directors brought something to the table, both of the Star Wars sequels still feel like Lucas (at least the Lucas of the late 70's early 80's) directed them. They are consistent with the tone and style of Episode IV. I just don't understand why they wouldn't have just directed these movies themselves. I mean, it is kind of a dick move for Lucas and Spielberg to hire someone else to direct so that they could fill the shoes of the big mogul producer role, but then later they decide to step in and direct the movie or direct a large portion of it. Obviously if the original director had a health problem or another type of emergency that they had to attend to and it took them out of the director's chair, then it makes sense that if there is a talented filmmaker there anyways, for them to take the reigns and step into the director's seat and keep the movie going. This is why I am glad that Peter Jackson is directing The Hobbit. There will be no stepping on the toes of another filmmaker since Del Toro decided to leave the project. If he had stayed on, Peter Jackson looking over his shoulder might have caused problems even though he probably would mean well (as I am sure Lucas and Spielberg did too in these types of situations).

  • May 31, 2011, 5:07 p.m. CST

    quint: true; Lifeforce is not that far off.

    by WriteForTheEdit

    But "Poltergeist" DOES look and sound like so many other Spielberg movies, and "Lifeforce" was the very next film Hooper made... Ah, until one of them goes on the record, I guess we'll never really know for sure...

  • May 31, 2011, 5:14 p.m. CST


    by Quint

    Spielberg also wrote the movie, so you can get where a lot of the trademark Spielberg suburban family character moments come from even if he didn't direct. But from what I understand, he did a lot of the heavy lifting and not because he was micromanaging... but because of Hooper's... let's say medical issues. That's the scuttlebutt, but I heard it first hand from Ms. Rubinstein.

  • Just look at Spielberg- there's something rather 'Truffaut' about the way he looks there.

  • May 31, 2011, 5:28 p.m. CST

    So Hooper was doped up? Allegedly?

    by sweeneydave

  • It's obviously done by speilberg, Hooper was there just to get the coffee and bagels...

  • May 31, 2011, 5:32 p.m. CST

    I read the Poltergeist novelization when I was 8 lol

    by smackfu

    it had extra clown scenes, scared the poop out of me.

  • May 31, 2011, 5:34 p.m. CST


    by Bullet_time_Facehugger

    I believe spielberg not officially directing the first one himself was something to do with his contractual obligations to Paramount, and possibly specifically to Raiders of the Lost Ark. I remember reading something about him not being allowed to direct a project with another studio while doing work on that project for for paramount. I could be mixing two different stories or misremembering though...

  • May 31, 2011, 5:36 p.m. CST

    you can tell easily that it was directed by Spielberg

    by smackfu

    the early kitchen scenes are a dead giveaway. Dialogue amidst background chaos was one of his early trademarks, it's such a distinctive tone you can recognize it immediately. I wish he still did that.

  • May 31, 2011, 5:37 p.m. CST

    Steven over Hooper.

    by shutupfanboy

    It was a weird set of circumstances since Steven wanted to just produce it and then Hooper was hired and Steven was there everyday, because I think it was his first produced film he did. I don't blame him if it flopped, it would have been bad for him, not disastrous, but bad. There is a good Poltergeist bio, I think Lifetime or TV Guide did it. It goods in some of the problems with the Hooper/Spielberg combo and how at times it was good to have both of them on set. Also, Lucas might as well shot Jedi considering his less than cordial description of the director in Empire of Dreams. Again, I don't blame Lucas, as "bad" as Jedi is viewed by shit head fanboys, it could have been worse.

  • May 31, 2011, 5:57 p.m. CST

    Re: Spielberg Directed POLTERGEIST

    by ArmageddonProductions

    I'm about 98 percent certain Spielberg directed POLTERGEIST, much in the same way that Kurt Russell directed TOMBSTONE (Google for that story) and handed off credit to George P. Costamos. Nothing Hooper directed before POLTERGEIST (that being EATEN ALIVE, THE FUNHOUSE, which was right before it, and the "Salem's Lot" miniseries) plays or feels anything like it, while all the Spielberg trademarks from that era -- characters talking over each other in an almost improvisational manner, expansive shots of California suburbs that look lifted straight out of E.T., the use of experimental lighting and visual FX work Spielberg had been perfecting since CLOSE ENCOUNTERS -- are all in place. Even the cinematography and editing seem contiguous with E.T. Plus, there's still the question about how much coke Hooper was allegedly ingesting during this period. Above all else, you can't even compare POLTERGEIST in any way to LIFEFORCE, which is so scattershot that the polish it has (compared to other subsequent Hooper efforts) actually hampers it rather than helps it. It plays like an Ivory Merchant production of PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES.</p><p> However, I can only say "98 percent", because POLTERGEIST was then followed up with GREMLINS, THE GOONIES and BACK TO THE FUTURE, all of which I would swear on a stack of Bibles that Spielberg had also "ghost-directed". Hooper might seem like a shill, since he was a low budget guy suddenly playing in the big leagues, but Joe Dante and, especially, Richard Donner and Robert Zemeckis, are competent directors with distinctive styles. It's possible that Spielberg demanded a certain style and polish and that these directors had to tow the line for Amblin. Until Spielberg himself rode off the rails with ALWAYS, EMPIRE OF THE SUN and HOOK, you always knew it was a Spielberg production. Hell, even BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED looked like an Amblin production (just a bad one). It's also possible that Spielberg's experience on POLTERGEIST forced him into this way of producing for others.</p><p> That all being said, I still think TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2, which I believe came right before or right after LIFEFORCE, remains Hooper's masterwork. I think Cannon really messed up Hooper's career, because it all went downhill from there, and we can all be grateful his version of SPIDER-MAN never saw the light of day ...

  • May 31, 2011, 6:06 p.m. CST

    Re: Carpenter Comparison

    by ArmageddonProductions

    Carpenter's career decline happened right after he split ways with Dean Cundey as his DP (during the beginning of his three-picture deal with Alive). PRINCE OF DARKNESS, and, to a lesser degree, THEY LIVE somehow made it through okay, and there's a bit of entertainment value with IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS, but up until he stopped working with Cundey, everything he made was a classic. Makes you wonder ...

  • May 31, 2011, 6:09 p.m. CST

    Was going to comment, but...

    by WeLiveStill...OrNot

    ...armmageddonproductions stole me thunder. Nice post. I dig cats that can come on here and talk film.

  • May 31, 2011, 6:29 p.m. CST

    Whether he did or did not may be uncertain.

    by theKRELL

    But he DID give us TCM, and LIFEFORCE with the Incredible MATHILDA MAY . . . and for that I am eternally grateful.

  • May 31, 2011, 6:36 p.m. CST

    Spielberg or Hooper? Very confusing.

    by Dark Doom

    Poltergeist had all those old nice Spielberg visual touches from the 80's, backlit fog, lens flares, shooting style, framing etc. I know Hoopers name is on it and Lifeforce has some of the same DNA for sure, but Poltergeist has always in my mind been straight Spielberg. I wish someone who was there would tell us all of the real back story here.

  • May 31, 2011, 6:36 p.m. CST

    Just watched Lifeforce on netflix streaming last night...

    by sadclown

    Prior to that I had seen only the version deemed safe for TV. Hoo-boy, what an eye(candy)opener! But just how the hell did that movie get made? Amazing cast of British actors...and one overacting American lead? A strange series of incongruous elements leading to one bizarre film (and I wish there were more like it.) But yeah, no way did Hooper "direct" Poltergeist.

  • Also Speilberg and his writing team were Sued for lifting ideas from a script by these two unknown writer and settled out of court.

  • It's strange for a Speilberg flick although Eric Bana smokes a joint in Munich but still I've always liked that character detail that the Freelings got high when their kids are sleeping.

  • May 31, 2011, 6:57 p.m. CST

    Pardon the spelling doing this from my cellphone

    by ndally

  • May 31, 2011, 7:04 p.m. CST

    Carpenter didnt fall until Vampire$

    by TheJudger

    Everything before that fucking rocks his only other dud for my tastes would be "Memoirs of an Invisible Man". Fuck even Body Bags and Village of The Damned is entertaining. To say Prince of Darkness, They Live or ITMOM sucks. Seriously!?!?!?! WTF! Dean is good people, but you know what John still knocked out hits without him. The "Scene" killed John ambition. I'm mad as fuck that we never got his take on The Creature From the Black Lagoon. He tried to get it going, but he was shot down. Ambition only lasts so long. Very few keep it sharp and hot all the way to the end. We got a good run with John. Who knows he might get one more vision that drives him to tell it to us.

  • May 31, 2011, 7:05 p.m. CST

    Anybody else experience that weird, cool moment.....

    by Nice Marmot

    .... where you first understand what the parents are smoking in the bedroom and that they are doing some phenomenally good acting?

  • May 31, 2011, 7:24 p.m. CST

    The beard didn't like dailies and

    by proevad

    after the first week of shooting he took over the main scenes. Tobe shot second unit stuff, but was also there during the main scenes. This from a secretary who worked for Spielberg who was the best friend of a friend of mine. I saw pictures of her with Spielberg at Disneyland, so I know she knew him. Full of shit on this? Maybe. That's what she told me about 10 years ago when I asked her though. Whole thing was always just fucking weird. My opinion--it looks and feels exactly like a Spielberg directed film.

  • May 31, 2011, 7:31 p.m. CST


    by proevad

    I admire the hell out of Salem's Lot.

  • May 31, 2011, 7:49 p.m. CST

    Whoever directed, ty for Jobeth Williams' panties

    by Tacom

  • May 31, 2011, 8:12 p.m. CST

    I didn't know Cheech Marin was a cameraman

    by Bobo_Vision

  • Damn that was a nice flashback..

  • May 31, 2011, 8:17 p.m. CST

    Armageddonproductions is right about melonman bein right!!

    by dahveed1972

    Rebbeh!! And to whomever (?) said Carpenters decline began after Vampires? Not even close to being correct. That is all. I did enjoy Carpenter's monsters of horror entry Cigarette Burns though.

  • May 31, 2011, 8:21 p.m. CST

    smackfu: Poltergeist novelization

    by Sir Loin

    Agreed, the book had SO much more detail...especially the guy who ended up peeling his face off. If I remember correctly, he was frozen in place while rats ate his skin, followed by swarms of spiders crawling all over him, nesting in his eye and ear sockets while he saw and felt all of it. Creepy stuff to read as a kid, but extremely effective.

  • May 31, 2011, 8:23 p.m. CST

    Tobe Hooper's style: Chainsaw, Salem's Lot

    by ufoclub1977

    I saw "Poltergeist" five times in the theater that summer of '82. I've also seen Texas Chainsaw countless times. There are a lot of similarities between Hooper's and Spielberg's shooting style. Lots of camera dollies, closing in on an expressive face, use of innovative techniques in effects. Lots of use of naturalistic set elements, and nature. Lots of set details. Hooper himself helped sound design Chainsaw, and it's incredible. Compare Chainsaw to "Duel". Remember how dramatic and cool some scenes in the made-for-tv "Salem's Lot" was?: First time I saw backwards footage ghostly vampires. First time the main vampire was styled as a Nosferatu throwback and treated with the drama and power of some kind of demon.

  • May 31, 2011, 8:33 p.m. CST

    Let's face it, POLTERGEIST had it all

    by Sir Loin

    Seriously. Chairs silently stacking themselves. Evil clowns. A dwarf psychic. Kid-eating trees. Corpse-expelling coffins. Self-imploding house. Ex-hippy parents. Demonic TV static. Teenage daughter with hickey arriving home to scream, "WHAT'S HAPPENING?!" Capped off with a supernatural THROAT MADE OF MEAT. That movie has never been topped. As a teen in 82, I was sorely peeved that E.T. got more attention, such a disgrace.

  • May 31, 2011, 8:39 p.m. CST

    Shiver shiver shiver

    by Nice Marmot

    Don't get me thinking' about Mr. Barlow at this hour, ufoclub1977!

  • May 31, 2011, 8:44 p.m. CST

    So where is the Hollywood remake?

    by KilliK

    it's due past its time,no?

  • May 31, 2011, 8:47 p.m. CST

    I hate clowns

    by ATARI

    Especially weird creepy evil clowns

  • May 31, 2011, 8:48 p.m. CST

    Hooper is NOT a hack

    by Movietool

    You can put me in the camp that believes Spielberg directed Poltergeist, but Hooper has skills of his own. As mentioned up-thread, Lifeforce is a well-directed movie, and feels a LOT like poltergeist. Yes, I said it was a well-directed movie. It's got great atmosphere, a compelling concept, nice pacing, and some genuinely creepy moments. Unfortunately no amount of direction will save a weak script (in places VERY weak) but I think it's a real diamond in the rough. There is enough really brilliant work in Lifeforce to convince me that Hooper knew what he was doing. If Hooper had pulled back Railsback's performance in places (and given him some less-ridiculous dialog at the same time) as well as taken the time to craft a more sensible ending, Lifeforce could have been a real gem.

  • May 31, 2011, 9:06 p.m. CST

    Good stuff, Quint

    by Skraggo

    For anybody who missed Quint's great interview with Zelda Rubinstein from 2007 ---

  • May 31, 2011, 9:10 p.m. CST

    The house

    by Aragorn742

    The house in the film is located around the corner from where I currently live in Simi Valley, CA. The homes in this tract were built right before production. There are now newer homes all around and behind the house. The scene where the pool digging has started shows no homes behind there since there weren't any until about ten years ago. The house looks nearly identical as it did thirty years ago. Pretty incredible to think that Steven Spielberg was in my neighborhood helping complete such an iconic motion picture. And I've met the man where I work. One of the nicest guys.

  • May 31, 2011, 9:20 p.m. CST

    Whatever happened with the remake?

    by darthsynn

    I remember reading stories about it a few years back. Was it shelved? Also, are there any plans for a 30th anniversary special edition next year? I would love to add it to my Blu-ray collection.

  • May 31, 2011, 9:32 p.m. CST

    This means that Super 8 will be...

    by ludmir88

    70% spielberg and 30% jj abrams. in other words 70% old school spielberg, 30% lens flares

  • May 31, 2011, 9:36 p.m. CST

    Man, I love me some Poltergeist.

    by kermit_the_fraud

    "Before...after. Before...after...." And you can't remake it these days, unless you do it as a period piece. Why, you ask? 'Cause you aren't gonna find a t.v. with static on it these days.

  • May 31, 2011, 9:47 p.m. CST

    This movie scared the shit out of me when I was 9

    by Rex Carsalot

    I watched it the other day - I'm mostly impressed that the parents were openly smoking weed. I guess that was a "California" thing to do.

  • May 31, 2011, 10:06 p.m. CST

    "Get me Steven Spielberg's non-union Mexican equivilent!"

    by Nasty In The Pasty

    Eeees muy bueno!

  • May 31, 2011, 10:25 p.m. CST

    I think they smoked pot in Speilberg's early short film Amblin'

    by seabiscuits

  • May 31, 2011, 10:36 p.m. CST


    by atan0669

  • May 31, 2011, 10:53 p.m. CST


    by darth_hideous Looks like the Cloverfield monster to me...

  • Starts at 15:44

  • May 31, 2011, 10:58 p.m. CST

    Or around each other. Hooper deserves some credit too.

    by Proman1984

  • June 1, 2011, 12:22 a.m. CST

    Re: thejudger/Hooper/Spielberg Making Horror

    by ArmageddonProductions

    thejudger: I think you misread what I wrote about Carpenter. I actually stated that PRINCE OF DARKNESS (his first flick without Cundey), THEY LIVE and IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS somehow managed to turn out okay despite being at the beginning of a downward turn in his career, though I'll submit, whatever your personal feelings are towards his post-Cundey output, none of them (with the exception of THEY LIVE, which has the benefit of a timeless, truly original concept) are spoken of in the same breath as HALLOWEEN, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK or even THE FOG or STARMAN. That doesn't mean his latter-day stuff is necessarily "bad" -- though GHOSTS OF MARS, VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED, ESCAPE FROM L.A. and VAMPIRES sure as hell stink on ice in most people's book! -- but none of it reaches for the heights of his earlier work. Apparently, this has happened to every "great" horror director from the Seventies (see also: Dario Argento, George Romero, Tobe Hooper, Wes Craven, etc.)</p><p> Speaking of Hooper, he had a distinctive cinematic style for sure. The first time I caught a widescreen presentation of TEXAS CHAINSAW was a revelation. However, it was nothing like POLTERGEIST, and nothing since has certainly made the case that Hooper had a movie like that in him (unlike Dante, who seemed to continue his Spielbergian influence in pretty much everything he made since, such as EXPLORERS). Go back and watch SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION or the MORTUARY remake; they reek of someone who just does whatever the budget and producers demand. LIFEFORCE and the INVADERS FROM MARS remake has some interesting visuals, but they were so wildly out-of-control and clunky that you eventually realized all those stories about Cannon cutting Hooper a mind-boggling multi-picture, final cut deal in exchange for the CHAINSAW sequel rights were probably dead on the money.</p><p> The story I've always heard was that Spielberg was scared out of making an out-and-out horror flick when he was developing the fabled "NIGHT SKIES" project on the set of RAIDERS. He didn't want to besmirch his rep as a blossoming mainstream blockbuster director and delegated these kinds of projects to his friends and cronies, and changed course on NIGHT SKIES to a more blockbuster-friendly E.T. (which still had mammoth problems getting off the ground). He still wanted to make an out-and-out horror flick, though, so he hired Stephen King (again, Google it! This actually happened!) to come up with the story and Tobe Hooper, who had successfully directed King's material with "'Salem's Lot", to direct it. For whatever reason, King's ideas (at least as far as a treatment) didn't pan out with Spielberg or the studio, perhaps because it was a bit much for the PG-rated family scarefest they were aiming for, but Hooper was still onboard and Spielberg wound up developing what became the POLTERGEIST we all know instead. He was stuck with Hooper, didn't want director's credit on something that would affect E.T. or his career at the time, and found a way to solve all his problems by handing off credit to Hooper. And NIGHT SKIES keeps showing up in odd ways in Spielberg's career, as E.T., as GREMLINS, probably as an influence on WAR OF THE WORLDS (the farmhouse scene in particular) and now ... SUPER 8.</p><p> I don't think Spielberg would be able to make a straight up horror flick now. No matter how he tried it, it would be a "Spielberg event", and I think that sensibility would overshadow the tone of the film. Not that he couldn't pull it off -- probably not in the same way he could have back in '82 -- but there's too much hanging over him. It's like watching Tom Cruise in a movie now. No matter what the movie is, you're overly conscious that you're watching Tom Cruise, you're mentally adding up his 20+ million dollar paycheck versus the entertainment value onscreen, and nothing he does or happens to him during the course of the movie changes that.

  • June 1, 2011, 12:25 a.m. CST

    Saw it in the theater.

    by disfigurehead

    When Zelda came out someone behind me said "ooh that's a bad mamma."

  • June 1, 2011, 1:11 a.m. CST

    Well, whether POLTERGEIST was primarily Spielberg or not

    by lv_426

    It sure feels like he directed it. As for GREMLINS, THE GOONIES, and BACK TO THE FUTURE... sure they have the Spielberg touch, but I never got the feeling like he ghost directed those three classics. Influenced, sure. Directed them? Nope. I suppose it is safe to say that Spielberg had influence on POLTERGEIST, BACK TO THE FUTURE, GREMLINS, and THE GOONIES, but just that he probably exerted a much larger amount of his "influence" on Hooper during production on POLTERGEIST. If it is true that Hooper had some health or drug issues during the shoot, then it doesn't seem illogical that Spielberg would help out with some of the directing. Either way, great film. Too bad Hooper couldn't rebound and capture some of what made TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, POLTERGEIST, and LIFE FORCE good horror flicks. Moving on to John Carpenter. I am a huge fan of his early work. I completely agree that his work suffered after he parted ways with Dean Cundey. I also want to add that the farther away he moved from making his film scores on synths and instead went in a direction that was more rock and metal in style, his films greatly suffered in this area too. Those iconic yet minimalist synth scores for ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13, HALLOWEEN, THE FOG, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, and even BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA blow away the scores for his later films. I do love THEY LIVE and IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS though. VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED was pretty good too ESCAPE FROM L.A. seemed like it should have been an easy rebound, but for goodness sakes what a letdown. VAMPIRES had its moments (great opening sequence with the slayers going into the cabin and disturbing the sleeping vamps), but overall didn't do much for me. GHOSTS OF MARS was pretty shitty. I guess at the time I kind of liked some aspects of it as it felt a bit like a half-hearted return to his earlier style. The Marilyn Manson looking Martian leader mutant dude was really lame though, as was the soundtrack.

  • June 1, 2011, 1:29 a.m. CST

    "Vampires" doesn't give you guys wood?

    by Cartagia

    I'm talking real mahogany here, Padre.

  • June 1, 2011, 2:41 a.m. CST

    Re: lv_426

    by ArmageddonProductions

    Again, I don't think Carpenter's post-Cundey output was necessarily bad (though some of it is certainly in that catagory), it just continuously falls short of the mark. As for his scores, after THEY LIVE (maybe his last memorable "Carpenter-style" score), he also parted company with his long-time musical collaborator Alan Howarth and worked with other musicians. IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS's theme might get a break because it was originally intended to be "Enter: Sandman" by Metallica and they had to whip up a last-minute sound-alike replacement when that didn't happen, and VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED has a little bit of Carpenter's melodic sensibilities, especially the theme, but the rest of it is pretty much as uninspired as the movies they're in. Neither Cundey (who, I recently noticed, was the DP on the last made-for-Cartoon-Network live action "Scooby Doo" movie) or Howarth (who went on to badly score a bunch of crappy HALLOWEEN sequels and DTV movies like CHILDREN OF THE LIVING DEAD) managed to shine on their own, so maybe it was the collaborative effort with Carpenter that caused the whole thing to work as well as it did.</p><p> The POLTERGEIST fiasco actually caused an investigation by the DGA into whether or not Spielberg should have gotten a co-director credit on the movie, so everybody may be staying mum for legal reasons and we might never hear an official statement on what happened.

  • Poltergeist always rocks the house though.

  • June 1, 2011, 3:45 a.m. CST

    R.I.P. Zelda Rubenstein

    by justmyluck

    POLTERGEIST hits its mark when Rubenstein enters, then loses its footing when she leaves. She really turned a visual-effects spook-fest into something else. That pic with Tobe Hooper: Spielberg: "This production is DOOMED." Hooper: "Was that a real ghost?!!!" Rubenstein dresses down Hooper's directorial issues here: I recently saw LIFEFORCE for the first time in 35mm at a revival cinema and it's a showcase of the bad acting department. Even good actors like poor Patrick Stewart - it is amazing his career survived. LIFEFORCE is a movie which can be summarized thus : "Horny space vampiress living in Haley's Comet tries to suck Earth dry while nude and flashing taa taa at every possible moment." Need more be said?

  • June 1, 2011, 3:55 a.m. CST

    Hooper got an awesome deal

    by smackfu

    He gets a free directing cred for doing little work on an awesome picture, but best of all he got to go to work tripping balls and watch the great Stephen Spielberg direct. Allegedly.

  • June 1, 2011, 4:05 a.m. CST


    by Munro Kelly

    I believe that there are scenes directed by hooper, anywhere from 20 to 45%, but I believe the majority was Spielberg. Even the scenes Hooper did were from storyboards approved by Spielberg. Movies are made in the editing room( the final rewrite), And Spielberg's editor Michael Kahn made sure it looked and felt like a Spielberg film. Hooper says he directed all of the film, of course he'll say that, it was a huge hit. I bet if it was a huge bomb he would have sung a different tune, saying the film was taken away from him. It's all about looking good enough to get your next job.

  • June 1, 2011, 4:24 a.m. CST

    @Quit could you

    by Matt

    please put back the index-list for all previously posted BTSP online? otherwise I keep loosing track. thanks in advance, matt

  • June 1, 2011, 4:28 a.m. CST


    by Munro Kelly

    I don't want to sound like I was being to harsh on him, I like a few of his films. I like, in varying degrees, the three Cannon films(Lifeforce, Invaders from Mars, Chainsaw 2). I'm just saying, if he did 100% of Poltergeist, where were the traces of this style in Spontaneous Combustion The Mangler and Crocodile. Those films were boring and visually flat.

  • June 1, 2011, 4:35 a.m. CST

    Re: Caption

    by ArmageddonProductions

    Second picture caption:</p><p> Spielberg: "Hi, Tobe, welcome to the first day of shooting on POLTERGEIST! Remember? This is that movie we were talking about earlier ...?"</p><p> Hooper: "Whoa, are you Steven Spielberg? I fucking love JAWS!"</p><p> Spielberg: "That's right, I'm Steven Spielberg! I hired you to direct this movie ..."</p><p> Hooper: "I'm directing another movie? Christ! Where's Leatherface?"</p><p> Spielberg: "Easy there, Tobe, you're directing THIS movie now. See? There's a little girl and a ghost is coming after her ..."</p><p> Hooper: "Fuuuuuuuuck!!! Where's my shotgun? I'll save her!"</p><p> Spielberg: "No, no, see, it's just a movie, you're actually directing this ..."</p><p> Hooper: "I don't remember anybody saying a goddamn thing about a ghost! Bullshit! You're just gonna stand behind this camera and watch this fucking ghost eat a little girl? Fuck you! Fuck Hollywood! (sniff!) I gotta use the john again real quick, Steve-O, you cool?"</p><p>

  • June 1, 2011, 4:36 a.m. CST

    What are people having trouble with?

    by Rex Carsalot

    It feels exactly like a Hooper film with streaks of Spielberg all over it - so clearly they did work together, in varying degrees, all over it. From that point on it's all speculation as to why it happened, but I'd call the feel of it almost completely 50/50.

  • June 1, 2011, 4:46 a.m. CST

    Tobe Hooper interview 1986

    by Munro Kelly

  • June 1, 2011, 4:57 a.m. CST

    Re: rex carsalot

    by ArmageddonProductions

    Exactly which parts, aside from the really bad fake head peeling, the exploding maggot steak and maybe some of the skeleton stuff dropping on JoBeth Williams (which is arguable, since Spielberg loves dropping skeletons on his female leads, as in "any of the 'Indiana Jones' movies"), "felt like Hooper"? If you compare it to the film he did right before it -- THE FUNHOUSE -- you can't even mentally make the leap to him directing POLTERGEIST.</p><p> Another interesting sidenote: I believe Hooper was attached to direct AMITYVILLE HORROR 2: THE POSSESSION before he mysteriously dropped out of the project and did POLTERGEIST instead. And right after POLTERGEIST, before he got into bed with Cannon, he was slated to direct RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD ... which he mysteriously dropped out of and was replaced by O'Bannon.

  • June 1, 2011, 5:59 a.m. CST

    HOOK is a mess, but...

    by Jack Burton

    There is some good underneath the bad. The first 20 minutes are exceptional and build the suspense up masterfully. It's only when Peter goes flying to Neverland that it all goes to hell. But the cinematography and tone of the first act is very much in line with that sense of mystery and awe present in a Spielberg's classic movies. The last time we saw it was probably Jurassic Park. I blame his collaboration with Janusz Kaminski for that. Brilliant cinematographer, but ever since they have worked together Spielberg's movies have been so flat. That sense of childlike awe present in so many of his 70's and 80's classics is just gone. I'm with most everyone else. I've heard about the controversy on who directed Poltergeist before. When I was a kid I thought it was Spielberg. I think everyone did. I was also pretty sure he directed The Goonies and Gremlins for that matter. But with all the anecdotal evidence (and the polish and professionalism of the finished movie) I think it's pretty obvious Spielberg was at the very least guiding Poltergeist and likely flat out directing it.

  • June 1, 2011, 6:32 a.m. CST

    Scariest Movie of my Childhood

    by Autodidact

    This movie scared the shit out of me as a kid. Other movies scared me a bit while I watched them, but pretty much *only* Poltergeist left me with a whole set of terrifying images that would pop up in my head at the worst time for literally YEARS. I *still* can't sleep alone in the same room with any clown doll bearing the slightest resemblance to the one in Poltergeist. And that's just one of the images from the movie. Nevermind snowy cable TV screens, empty pools, spindly tree limbs outside the window, and so on.

  • June 1, 2011, 6:39 a.m. CST

    Ghosts of Mars

    by Autodidact

    It has been ten years since that POS came out and I still regret the time and money I wasted going to see it. There is one single moment of worthy entertainment in the entire film: When Natasha Henstridge calls Jason Statham's bluff about having some impromptu casual sex. Aside from that it's like the world's longest and most boring and cheap looking video game cut scene.

  • June 1, 2011, 6:58 a.m. CST

    Re: Spielberg Losing It

    by ArmageddonProductions

    For me, HOOK doesn't work because it's the second time Spielberg didn't play to his strengths, which is creating a strikingly realistic world and then injecting something fantastical and mind-bending into it. This is what made JAWS, DUEL, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, E.T., and, yeah, POLTERGEIST so great, that we bought the reality so completely and then got a wild dose of fantasy (or horror) injected into it. The first time he (kind of) lost it was 1941, which was a badly-constructed screwball cartoon comedy that would have been better off with somebody like John Landis at the wheel ... and the second time was HOOK, which was, incidentally, the second time he worked with a mega-star cast since 1941. Either the star power overshadowed the story (anybody remember the Julia Roberts meltdowns behind-the-scenes?) or the huge budget did.</p><p> I think he has this ongoing strange desire to distance himself from the very thing that put him on the map, which may have started with E.T. not winning the Best Picture Oscar. THE COLOR PURPLE seemed like a desperate bid to be viewed as a "serious filmmaker", and when that didn't cinch the deal, he did SCHINDLER'S LIST. Bear in mind, JURASSIC PARK probably would never have gotten made, certainly not in the manner that it did, had he not had to trade services to get SCHINDLER'S LIST made. Double goes for SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, which he had to barter THE LOST WORLD with in order to get made (he was actually directing THE LOST WORLD via satellite while prepping SAVING PRIVATE RYAN). After that ... Dreamworks, and the latitude to do whatever the hell he wants. And a string of movies that some people like, some people don't, but certainly lack the impact of anything he did up to JURASSIC PARK (aside from everything between the first and last five minutes of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN). Are we really gonna remember THE TERMINAL or A.I. or even MUNICH in a few years? Maybe that's the point, though -- he can goof off and make as many forgettable movies as he wants to now; he got all the gold out of his system right off the bat.

  • June 1, 2011, 7:04 a.m. CST

    Regarding Carpenter doing the music for his films

    by kabookieslap

    I talked to Dan Wyman in 2000 (He is a professor at the music department of San Jose State University and is knowns as "Professor Dan") My friend was his student and told me "Just go there. He will talk to you." I ran into him in a the Hallway outside his office. Nice guy. He confirmed what Alan Howarth told me on the phone in 1992. Carpenter can not write music. Wyman said that carpenter came in and did the piano part of the Halloween theme by pounding on the top of a desk as his dad taught him it on the bongos. He said during the recording session Carpenter tried to to the piano part of the main theme but kept screwing it up. After about 45 minutes (Of which they only had two days of studio time) Wyman said pulled Debra Hill to the side and told her to take him to lunch (wink wink) While they were at lunch he laid down the Halloween theme in whole and some other stuff during that time on his own. He also wrote Laurie's theme (Carpenter's stuff you can play with one finger cause he either whistled it or tapped it on a desk and Wyman's stuff was more intricate). He also said he wrote a lot of the score for The Fog (Both versions of the score before reshoots and after) Talked to Howarth on the phone in 1992. Again, nice guy like Wyman. Howarth told me that he wrote most of the stuff and Carpenter is contractual to take credit. I asked him about he photo on the back of the Halloween 2 and 3 album and he said simply "staged. Carpenter can not write or play music. He just can't do it. He can come up with stuff by banging on a table or whistling it, then I would have to figure out how to play it on the keyboard." But he said that eventually he got tired of doing all the work and John getting all the credit for the scores. He also told me that they had come up with their own version of the score for The Thing but Universal wanted a bigger name for the score as it was one of their summer tentpole films. Also told me they did their own score for Starman, but Columbia rejected it, telling them "You guys can't do any score other than horror scores" and brought in Jack Nitsche, who had just done another movie for them. He said that their score fit the film more, and was much better, but stated that Columbia would not let them attach it to the film and insisted on using Nitsche. But they both told me "that is why it is always 'John Carpenter in association' with someone else. Although Wyman just got Synthesizer programmer credit for Precinct, Halloween and The Fog". My ex boss also went to film school with Carpenter and O'banon and said that O'banon directed Dark Star but for some reason was not able to finish it and Carpenter finished it and school rules were the one who finishes the film gets credit. But he said that O'banon did most of that film.

  • June 1, 2011, 7:42 a.m. CST

    Lifeforce had the best boobs ever

    by Davidhessstation

    The vampire naked chick has the best set of milkers I have ever seen in a major motion picture.

  • June 1, 2011, 7:50 a.m. CST

    I watched They Live again recently

    by Bobo_Vision

    I was surprised by how lazy the filmmaking seemed. A lot of scenes lacked logic, like having a swarm of cops chasing Roddy Piper, then he climbs into an apartment window and voila, they are all gone. Or how people just stand there before getting shot or punched in the face. It's like paint by the numbers filmmaking. Even a lot of the actors' reactions in scenes just lack logic. <p> The fight scene between Piper and Keith David is great....but even that scene lacks when Keith David starts kneeing Piper in the groin repeatedly, Piper just lays there and takes it....a logical reaction would be to block your groin or to coil up in a fetal position and protect your jewels at all cost....but Piper just lays there and takes it. <p> The film could really benefit from a remake.

  • June 1, 2011, 8:13 a.m. CST

    Go to the 3:40 mark of this video

    by Bobo_Vision <p> 5 knees to the groin from Keith David would squash anyone's nuts to oblivion, so most people would protect their jewels at all costs....but Roddy's hands are free and flopping around and doing nothing to protect them. In fact, right before the 5th knee to the groin, Roddy's hands are blocking his jewels, but he moves his hands out of the way so that Keith can squash them some more. <p>

  • June 1, 2011, 8:42 a.m. CST



    I understand why you would think Spielberg ghost-directed GOONIES, GREMLINS, and BACK TO THE FUTURE--they should do have his touch but they also bear the stamp of their credited directors. And at no time since have there been any ripples in the water stating that Steven called the shots on these films, directing wise. I am hard to the core, but finding out this late in the game that Donner, Dante and Zemeckis didn't direct my beloved films..well that would be a fatal blow to CHOP

  • June 1, 2011, 8:46 a.m. CST

    I thought this would be a THE OMEN bts pic.

    by Drunken Busboy

    The headline description fits that movie better than Poltergeist! So let's see some BTS pics from The Omen movies!!!!!!

  • June 1, 2011, 8:47 a.m. CST

    I thought this would be a THE OMEN bts pic.

    by Drunken Busboy

    The headline description fits that movie better than Poltergeist! So let's see some BTS pics from The Omen movies!!!!!!

  • June 1, 2011, 9:46 a.m. CST

    Re: choppah/Carpenter Scores/THEY LIVE

    by ArmageddonProductions

    choppah: my point exactly, and the only reason I'm not 100 percent sure that Spielberg directed POLTERGEIST. I'm pretty damn sure he did, though.</p><p> kabookieslap: I'll agree that Wyman and Howarth had a lot to do with those signature scores, and I recently caught an amazing YouTube video of Howarth performing a suite from ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK live at some screening of the movie, but if that's completely the case, you'll have to explain why Howarth hasn't achieved anything of note since then, other than making nifty "sci-fi sound effects" for big budget movies. If you can stomach it, sit through CHILDREN OF THE LIVING DEAD and try focusing on the score. It's beyond awful. At one point, I swear to God you can hear that horrible 8-bit "guitar solo sound" from the original DOOM game. HALLOWEENs 4 through 6, which were all Howarth, were also pretty bad. It's not like Carpenter has fared much better with his latter-day collaborators, but one would think that, if he were honestly that bad, no studio would allow him to score his own work. More to the point, even his modestly-budgeted stuff would permit him to hire somebody competent enough to score them.</p><p> PRINCE OF DARKNESS had a few great Carpenter moments in it (the dream sequence, the sense of dread, Donald Pleasance's last role in a Carpenter movie, the awesome score) and a few bad ones. THEY LIVE had a great idea and ... that's about it. I would have rather seen Keith David as the protagonist, no fifteen-minute wrestling sequence (Carpenter's nutty love of certain sports would come back to destroy a movie again later in ESCAPE FROM L.A.) and maybe a little bit more work done on those aliens. Both of those movies suffered from low budgets, but then again, he had fifty million (got paid five) for ESCAPE FROM L.A. and it somehow manages to look twice as cheap as the original.

  • June 1, 2011, 9:50 a.m. CST

    As a kid....

    by Terence James

    the scariest part of Poltergeist was always the guy peeling his face off. Definately a nasty, Hooper scene. Looking back now it certainly feels like a Spielberg movie though. I'd be surprised if either Spielberg or Hooper came out and said anything different to what's already been said.

  • Lack of Williams score.

  • June 1, 2011, 10:03 a.m. CST

    Carpenter had the balls to let Shirley Walker compose a score


    after years of backing many up and comers. Not many directors wanted a lady to score their film, but Carpenter lead the a fucking champ.

  • June 1, 2011, 10:21 a.m. CST


    by kabookieslap

    Believe it or not he does not get much scoring opportunities due to the fact that everyone thought it was Carpenter. And he is mainly a sound effects guy (He did all the sound effects or the star trek films). I don't know. I was going to ask him on the phone call why he did not keep the Halloween 2 version of the theme for H4- 6 but did not have the balls. I think what he did was what the producers wanted, and maybe that sound of the song was owned by De Lauentis in some way. Not sure. I just know that both said the same thing unprompted. I talked to Howarth first but when I met Wyman did not say a thing, and he came out with it on his own. I said Howarth said the same thing and he had this look of "Of course he did" on his face. In short I have no answer except what both told me but both were open about it. The other thing could be budget too. Maybe carpenter is good at listening to something and being a good judge on if something works or not. All IO know is what they told me.

  • June 1, 2011, 10:30 a.m. CST


    by kabookieslap

    It was actually a part of his contract much like the "John Carpenter's" over the title. No one really knew that he didn't score it. They just assumed he did. He would just grab the latest guy. I know that he went with Howarth right after The Fog as he was the new Synthesizer guy. but it could have also been that Wyman was sick of him taking all the credit like Howarth said he got. And if Carptner did it, by Escape from New York he could have gotten his own studio and gear and just done it himself. But it as always with someone else. And all I know is they both said "All he can do is pound on a desk or whistle". And all I know is they both said they wrote most of the stuff on their own un-prompted.

  • June 1, 2011, 10:35 a.m. CST

    Choppah regarding Walker

    by kabookieslap

    Walker was already a name in Hollywood then from Batman. She was the conductor for the Batman 89 score for Elfman. She may have contributed some to that score uncredited like many film conductors do. Generally most composers with the exception of Williams and Goldsmith wrote the main stuff but they have other people break it down into the instruments and write more . Jablonski was one of Zimmer's guys who did that. And it could have been a studio mandated thing since that was for Paramount and word on it might have gotten out by that point.

  • June 1, 2011, 10:43 a.m. CST

    A Director's Responsibilities

    by Sirmausalot

    The two most important decisions a director makes happen before shooting: choice of material and casting. As producer and writer, Spielberg seemed to have had total control over both. By that time, the on-set responsibilities of the director, although numerous, usually don't affect the outcome of most films in nearly the same way as material and casting. Between that and the fact that Spielberg was on set every day giving notes, working with his cameraman, then it is clear who 'directed' the film.

  • June 1, 2011, 10:44 a.m. CST

    best running shoes

    by wefrdgdf

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  • June 1, 2011, 10:50 a.m. CST

    I am watching these videos online of Hosarth talking about Carpenter

    by kabookieslap

    And he is talking much differently about Carpenter from what both he and Wyman told me. But I talked to him in 92 when he may have been more bitter about it. But Wyman is very open to tell you about it. But Howarth was not this courteous about Carpenter when I talked to him in 1992.

  • June 1, 2011, 11:27 a.m. CST

    I thought this was going to be a Justin Bieber bts photo.

    by v3d

  • June 1, 2011, 11:41 a.m. CST

    Thx Quint

    by scrote

    ...was never in any doubt that Spielberg put this one out, not Hooper. I think the interview that I read a while back with Frank Marshall kind of pointed out what we all knew. Still an awesome movie and, like Jaws, I hope they never remake it

  • June 1, 2011, 12:02 p.m. CST

    sirmausalot, you're dead wrong

    by one9deuce

    You could give 30 directors the same exact script with the same exact cast and you would get 30 VERY different movies. The mise en scene and how the actors are directed are as important as anything and that is done on set. This thread proves that, if Steven Spielberg had never set foot on the set of POLTERGEIST it would be a very different movie. But he did, and it's very likely he actually did most of the directing.

  • June 1, 2011, 12:22 p.m. CST

    The Goonies is definitely a Spielberg movie

    by judderman

    even if Spielberg didn't direct it. Joe Dante is too distinctive a director to let his style be controlled, and Robert Zemekis, well aside from top notch FX I can't think of a standout directing style that runs through his movies. But then, I haven't liked a movie of his since Who Framed Roger Rabbit. And Lifeforce is shit. Sorry but it is. All the Mathilda May hotness in the universe cannot compensate for watching Steve Railsback French-kiss Patrick Stewart. As far as Carpenter goes, wow. That's quite the reveal about his music, if true. And he hasn't made a good movie since "The Fog". "In the Mouth of Madness" is a noble failure, but the only thing "They Live" gave the world was David Icke.

  • June 1, 2011, 12:42 p.m. CST

    Fuck that judderman


    Are you telling me Richard Donner doesn't have a distinctive style? The man's been working since the 60s. Yes, his stuff is mostly workman-like but his films have a distinctive look. You don't tell the man who directed Superman and The Omen how to shoot a film. He was filming special effects as well as Spielberg was back in those days too. Hell, he even got two iconic scores from Williams and Goldsmith to boot.

  • June 1, 2011, 12:53 p.m. CST

    Two moments in Poltergeist that are all Spielberg, for sure.

    by jawsfan

    The kids on the curb using their remote-controlled cars to chase the fella on the bike with the case of beer, and the house-to-house battle with the remote control. Those two scenes ALONE smack of Spielberg.

  • June 1, 2011, 12:59 p.m. CST

    have to agree about the pot smoking parents

    by ragingfluff

    the first third of the film, setting up the suburban setting, the parents smoking pot, reading the Reagan bio, Craig T Nelson on the bed: "before, after, before, after", the bickering with the neighbours with the remote (and especially the scene when they pop over to the neighbour and his fat kid and they're getting eaten alive by mosquitoes) ... just great stuff all around, nicely acted, nicely written, nicely directed ... the latter part of the film, the scary part, frankly I can do without

  • June 1, 2011, 1:56 p.m. CST

    The Lost World

    by Keith

    " Double goes for SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, which he had to barter THE LOST WORLD with in order to get made (he was actually directing THE LOST WORLD via satellite while prepping SAVING PRIVATE RYAN)" And it looks like it too. TLW is a hopeless mess; even poor Spielberg movies always feel well-directed, but this one doesn't.

  • June 1, 2011, 1:57 p.m. CST

    Spielberg-Hooper directorial issue comment #1103

    by Monroville

    I think it also came down to POLTERGEIST may have been a bit TOO hardcore for Spielberg to outright direct it (and have his name on it), especially considering how THE THING flopped so hard coming out the same week E.T. did (Spielberg had to have noticed). <p> Thus, I think that the Beard's plan from the get-go was to have a well-known horror director take the credit while he got to do the horror film he really wanted to do since he originally intended CLOSE ENCOUNTERS to be DARK SKIES (but not get any negative flack for being a more "Disney" family friendly director doing something "inappropriate". Even though JAWS was just as hardcore if not moreso, Spielberg developed a reputation with more family oriented material and had become a "brand"). <p> Needless to say, Hooper didn't help things much when apparently he popped the cork too soon on his successful entry to the A-list and started using while on the set and on the job.

  • June 1, 2011, 2:56 p.m. CST

    All this talk of Spielberg being family oriented is a myth..


    None of his films scream Family Film until ET. I think its 20/20 hindsight that people can now say he was like that all along but up until making ET, he had: Duel--suspense The Sugarland Express--chased by the cops melodrama which no one saw anyway Jaws--straight up suspense film Close Encounters--science fiction in the vein of 2001 with some family elements 1941--madcap farce Raiders--straight up action ET-family oriented tale of growing up. with an alien. So for people to say that couldnt/wouldnt direct POLTERGEIST because he didnt have a taste for that genre or it didnt suit him is just silly. The man could at the time jump from one genre to the next on a whim. by the way, spielberg took a note from Truffaut's Small Change and kept the adults to a minimum in ET to give it a more authentic feel. Only the mom, given childish traits, appears in the first half of the film.

  • June 1, 2011, 3:03 p.m. CST

    I find nothing wrong with THE LOST WORLD


    In fact, when it comes down to chooses which to watch, I usually opt for LW. The only negative thing about it is the spunky child. It set everything it meant to do. And by the way--like he did before with JP/Schindler directed LW/Amistad in a one-two punch. He likes to do that so he can take time off with his family. The man doesnt need to make a studio film to make an art film like Soderbergh. Love him or hate him, you don't say no to Spielberg.

  • June 1, 2011, 4:50 p.m. CST

    Jaws had some damn effective gore effects for a PG or M

    by openthepodbaydoorshal

    rated film back then. The autopsy, head popping from hole, severed leg..even the black and white photos are pretty grisly. If anyone should be accused of family film syndrome it's Lucas. Outside of THX, with it's glimpse of nudity and implied sex, I can't think of a film that Lucas has either directed or produced that isn't practically squeeky clean of sex/nudity and/or violence/gore. So/there/.

  • June 1, 2011, 4:53 p.m. CST

    And I think The Lost World gets a lot of shit, but the key set pieces-

    by openthepodbaydoorshal

    the wrangling of the creatures, the tipping of the command trailer, the attack of the raptors, etc. are as well directed as any Spielberg production.

  • June 1, 2011, 5:34 p.m. CST


    by one9deuce

  • June 1, 2011, 5:44 p.m. CST


    by one9deuce

    WHAT?! George Lucas might be a businessman/executive now and a hollowed out shell of his former self, but saying the films he directed or produced didn't have any violence is pure ignorance. STAR WARS and RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK are my two favorite films and I have seen them both countless times, but I'm still a little shocked at how much violence is in them and I'm 38. Many many acts of violence in Lucas' films.

  • June 1, 2011, 5:45 p.m. CST

    Re: kabookieslap/LOST WORLD

    by ArmageddonProductions

    kabookieslap: again, while I'm not disputing that Howarth's and Wyman's contributions to those scores is probably bigger than we'll ever know, I think Carpenter was behind the wheel. Carpenter's stuff had a consistent sound from ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 through THEY LIVE (and still has a few signature flourishes, like THE VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED theme and bits of IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS), while Howarth's post-Carpenter stuff sounds almost nothing like the stuff he was doing with Carpenter (and while he hasn't exactly had a storied career post-THEY LIVE, he's scored quite a few movies). Carpenter can actually play keyboard and guitar, and with today's tech, you don't have to be a great musician to put out polished work. So ... I still can't say for sure. I'd say the truth probably lays somewhere in the middle.</p><p> There was actually a big deal during THE LOST WORLD about Spielberg having a TV monitor and a video camera set up on the set -- he'd appear in the monitor from the PRIVATE RYAN production office in England and direct the whole thing in L.A. over a (then cutting edge) satellite hookup.

  • June 1, 2011, 5:48 p.m. CST

    Dirty ape--the color purple


    I don't fault you for trying. The only reason John Williams did not score the color purple was because Quincy was one of the producers. Spielberg didn't wanna lose his shot at sure Oscar gold. Alas it was a false dawn.

  • June 1, 2011, 6:58 p.m. CST


    by johnnyrandom ain't no film buff. Recognise.

  • June 1, 2011, 8:45 p.m. CST

    Williams not scoring Poltergeist

    by Munro Kelly

    Let's not forget that both movies came out 1 week apart. Poltergeist was released in the U.S. June 4th 82 and E.T. was released June 11th 82. Poltergeist music was entrusted to the very capable Jerry Goldsmith.

  • June 1, 2011, 8:46 p.m. CST

    Spielberg 1982 20/20 interview

    by Munro Kelly

  • June 1, 2011, 8:53 p.m. CST

    "medical issues"

    by Dr Lisa Cuddy

    Huh. What could THAT possibly mean. Also, I'm giving a shout to Hooper's "Funhouse" Check it out, it has massive creep factor.

  • June 1, 2011, 9:21 p.m. CST

    lol i aways thought this was a Spielberg film

    by BBSloth

    never realised it wasn't til now..

  • June 1, 2011, 9:24 p.m. CST


    by Nice Marmot

    Don't forget Howard the Duck featured a naked duck chick w/ tits. With nipples.

  • June 2, 2011, midnight CST

    Lifeforce was a complete mess....but the source novel

    by SmokingRobot

    By Colin Wilson was excellent.

  • June 2, 2011, 2:17 a.m. CST


    by kabookieslap

    I know he can play guitar, but when he was working on these scores, he could barely if play piano. He tried to do the piano part for the Halloween theme, which is repetitive, and kept screwing up for 45 minutes until Wyman asked Hill to take him to lunch. The way Wyman made it sound, he really screwed up, but it was one of the few things he could do on the piano. And he actually did not even create it. He stated it was a One two timing thing that his Dad taught him on the bongos. But again, they said he would just bang out on the desk or whistle the sound, and then Wyman and Howarth would figure out how to play it on the piano or synth. But they did write more stuff and he took all of the credit. Like I said, the videos show Howarth much more cordial in talking about working with Carpenter than when I called him in 1992. I was calling his office to find out where we could find the contact for the Bedini Audio Spatial Expansion system (called BASE) used for Hallowen 4 and 5. I thought I would get his secretary but he answered. At first I did not think it was him, and then before I was about to hang up, I said "Could you please tell Alan I am a big fan of his work with Carpenter?" and he said "Thanks. That means a lot to me when people say they love my work" and I said "Wait...Your Alan Howarth? I thought you were his secretary" and he said "Nope . Just me" And then we talked for a bit and at a point in the conversation that he just said "You know. The thing that makes me mad is that I most of that stuff I wrote" And then he went on to tell me that Carpenter could only just band on the desk and whistle. That was it." When I met Wyamn, I didn't tell him anything that Howarth said and all of a sudden he said "All he could do is bang on the table or whistle besides that Halloween Theme Piano part. And you can actually tell a difference in his work between Wyman and Howarth. And again, if he could write and play the stuff, he would have by the Thing had his own studio and set of synths and done it on his own. They recorded Escape through Prince of Darkenss in Howarths Home studio. If he needed anything, it would have been in the budget and the production would have gotten it for him. It would never have been "John Carpenter in association with..." It would have just been him. After he and Howarth parted ways, he was in association with another guy. All I am saying is that both men associated him on those scores said the same thing. The exact same thing without me saying anything..

  • June 2, 2011, 2:30 a.m. CST

    Summer of 1982 was awesome to live through

    by kabookieslap

    We were lucky in Hawaii that Universal did some last minute test screening of every film they released that summer at the Varsity Theater. So I saw ET before it was released, and my science teacher saw The Thing before it was released. But it was the one summer where so many good movies came out and they were staying in first run theaters, which there were nowhere near the numbers there are now. You had maybe 1 or 2 first run theaters in every area and that was it. The film gods smiled and by the time The Thing and Blade Runner came out, they opened at second run theaters or that smaller 1st run theater that the little films opened up at. That 1 summer produced so many classic films that the next summer was a let down. And it didn't stop until The Dark Crystal. Even when the summer films were winding down, we had First Blood come out. It was amazing. Literally every film out with exception of Grease 2 and Omega Force were major hits. I still remember seeing Tron and Star Trek 2 as a double bill when it came out in the second run theaters with Rocky 3 and Conan playing in the next theater of the Kaneohe Twin. I also remember seeing Conan the Barbarian and The Road Warrior again at the second run theater double billed too. Poltergeist was double billed with Firefox if I remember it. It was just the best film summer. Still have never experienced another summer like it where almost every damn film was a major hit and became a classic.

  • June 2, 2011, 4:06 a.m. CST

    1982 was the most magical summer ever for films

    by kabookieslap

    I think it is still on record as the best summer for films by the Theater Owners Association. It was a period where at the end of March with the release of Porky's 1, all of a sudden there were all these great movies released every week. In fact, I remember that films where not falling out of the first run theaters through attrition and were staying in the first run theaters and many films were being released in the second run theaters, or the smaller first runs relegated to smaller films because most major towns only had a few first run theaters. It was not like today where you have many first runs to chose from. A movie only opened up at one theater and you had to stand in line to get tickets for a showing a few days later. I remember having to see The Thing at a smaller first run theater because Star Trek 2, Firefox, Rocky 3, ET, Poltergeist, Conan, Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and Road Warrior were had not left the first run theaters. And we were lucky in Hawaii that Universal had a last test screening/ or sneak preview of every film released that summer at the Varsity Theater. I saw ET two weeks before it was released. I remember there was only supposed to be one showing, but so many people showed up (My family was still in line) that we started chanting "show it again" and the Universal Reps came out and said they got permission to do a second showing. My science teacher saw "The Thing" before it was released. I still remember waiting in line for a movie and people in line talking about "the Star Trek sequel they are going to have space battles" and it was two weeks before release. That was the summer that started and the great movies didn't stop until the Dark Crystal's release. Even when movies where in the last run theaters before leaving the theatrical presentations were cool. I remember seeing Star Trek 2 and Tron as a double bill at the Kaneohe Twin. And then everyone would go up to this blue neon and black light lit arcade after and trip out that it looked like you were in Tron. I remember Conan and The Road Warrior were a double bill. Rocky 3 and Firefox a double bill I think. That summer produced more classic movies than any time in history. It was so amazing to be a film fan. I remember standing in line to see Blade Runner the second night of opening and coming out of it in a daze. The only movies I remember that were failures that summer were Grease 2, Omega Force. Just think of it. In one glorious summer we had the release of ET, Tootsie, An Officer and a Gentleman, Rocky 3, Porky's, Star Trek 2, Poltergeist, Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Firefox, Conan the Barbarian, Cat People, Blade Runner, Tron, World According to Garp, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Road Warrior, The Thing, Pink Floyd's The Wall, Night Shift, Friday the 13th Part 3 in 3D. Then later in the year we had First Blood, Ghandi, Videodrome, 48 Hours, The Dark Crystal, Creepshow. It was just this Amazing year for film that just never ended. Look at all those classic films and many of them released in a 3 month period.

  • June 2, 2011, 4:08 a.m. CST

    And my first post disappeared and I retyped and added to it

    by kabookieslap

    Thinking it didn't go through only to have it appear again. ARG

  • June 2, 2011, 5:51 a.m. CST

    Re: kabookieslap

    by ArmageddonProductions

    Actually, after THEY LIVE, the only "in association with" credit he took was on ESCAPE FROM L.A. (with Shirley Walker). I know he worked with Dave Davies (yes, THAT Dave Davies) on IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS and VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED, and worked with Jim Lang (the dude who scored "Hey, Arnold!") on IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS, then worked with a bunch of metal musicians on GHOST OF MARS and a bunch of blues guys on VAMPIRES, but took sole writing credit on all those scores (except ESCAPE FROM L.A., which half the cues are credited to him and the other half are credited to Walker).</p><p> In all cases, the point is, all published music has to be very specific in who did what for the purpose of residuals and reuse rights -- all of Carpenter's scores are usually released in soundtrack albums. In the case of Howarth, Carpenter actually tapped him around '98 or '99 to remaster the ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK score for the soundtrack re-release (and subsequent "Special Edition" DVD) and in the case of Wyman, the same deal for THE FOG. If they're not getting the credit for their music, they're at least getting the money earned on each track -- they pretty much have to, it's the law as set up by the RIAA and whatever company is publishing their music! -- and I'm not sure either one of them would eat crow and have worked on the remastered soundtracks, especially Howarth, who put in untold man-hours transferring the original ESCAPE audio tracks from analog tape to a computer for cleanup, if they were that upset about being not given their due credit.</p><p> Again, I'm not doubting this is what they told you, but it wouldn't exactly be a "secret" if Wyman and Howarth were telling relative strangers these kinds of behind-the-scenes revelations at the drop of a hat.

  • June 2, 2011, 9:52 a.m. CST

    Re:Lucas sex and violence & Summers of the '80s

    by openthepodbaydoorshal

    I guess I was a bit vague in my statement. As I stated Spielberg didn't shy away from gore effects as early as Jaws. Lucas' violence tended to be fantasy based. Look at the examples given above. Scores of armored stormtroopers blasted by colorful laser blasts, planets go kablooey, faces melts or tits and nipples?? And kabookieslap the summer of 1982 was indeed like Christmas every weekend. To see such classics first run was magical indeed. But then the '80s had summer after summer of genre treasures. Aliens, The Star Trek series, The Fly, Die Hard, Predator, Back To The Future, Temple Of Doom & Last Crusade, Romancing The Stone, Roger Rabbit, etc.etc....I can't think of another decade that had such output.

  • June 2, 2011, 10:46 a.m. CST

    The one great thing about Howard the Duck

    by v3d

    Was the incredible stop motion work of Phil Tippett. Brilliant.

  • June 2, 2011, 1:37 p.m. CST


    by kabookieslap

    Actually on one of his scores after Howarth there is an association with some Asian guy I believe. I can't remember if it is body bags, or another one. After that, he had other people doing his scores. All I can tell you is what they told me. Wyman apparently has told his students many times in class according to my friend who was his student. And again, it was in Carpenter's contract to be listed as such much like his contract states that all of the titles of his moves are called "John Carpenter's" It is not just a marketing thing for the posters. Those movies are legally titled "John Carpenter's ...." It is built into his contract that the movie is always called that if he directs it. Well money changes things. However, Carpenter is solely credited as writing many of the songs that he did not write. And again, his contributions were pounding on a table and whistling on what he did do. Howarth and Wyman had to actually take that and compose it on the keyboard. And Wyman stated he did wrote songs that is credited to Carpenter. They both did. On The Fog soundtrack remaster, Carpenter is listed as performing the score when Wyman said he did it cause Carpenter can't play the piano at all, or very well. Wyman is only listed as "synthesizer programming and orchestration". Howarth performed the stero remix. It sounds like he and Carpenter have mended what was bugging him when I talked to him. But I can tell you that when I talked to him, he wasn't overtly pissed, but he was bugged the way he was talking about it. Hollywood has a lot of weird contract things where people are credited doing things they didn't do, while other people are credited for things they did do. You can find in an interview done here a few years ago with Joss Whedon on his script for Alien Resurrection (which he is credited as script by) and he stated I had nothing to do with that script. he wrote three scripts, one I believe on another planet, one in the desert, and another one and then he and Fox parted ways. The final script is credited to him when the only thing in it is the idea of the resurrection of Ripley. By the same token, he is not credited for his massive rewrite on Speed, and it is all credited to Graham Yost. However Yost takes full credit for it, even in the film commentary on the DVD. Whedon even went up to Yost and told him after Speed came out in theaters he knows he did a major rewrite and the he was taking credit for all the stuff that Whedon wrote. Graham told him union rules said he could, and wouldn't he if the movie he was credited writing was a huge hit. It is a contractual thing. And sometimes it is also an advertising thing. Whedon is strictly credited for the script for Alien Resurrection strictly for advertising even though he had nothing to do with it. maybe in the final contract for the rights that it is stated to say Carpenter did all this stuff when he didn't. maybe he did on Precinct as that is a totally easy score. Most of it is one note sustained for a long time. Maybe he needed to maintain the illusion and it is in the contract. No matter. The two people involved in the creation of those soundtracks stated the same thing on their own origination. I know Wyman said "privately John is giving me more credit for music creation and performing than he used to" but that he is still listed as creating those songs that Wyman said he wrote in full. For Halloween 2 Carpenter is even in a picture on the back of the album playing the keyboard with Howarth programming it. There is an performance with Howarth saying he got the 16 track masters of the first Halloween score and just played over it and John wasn't even there. That would imply all of the new songs that are not a direct lift from the first score was Howarth's creation. Carpenter probably just supervised it and came in and took the picture like Howarth said. That is all I can say. Maybe Carpenter just sat there and supervised d and steered the writing of them to a certain sound, but both stated the same thing.

  • But Yost is taking credit for all of the things Whedon created in the Whedon massive rewrite.

  • Does sound like Howarth originals. And again, according to Howarth in a youtube video, the regurgitated stuff he just played his new synth sounds over the older track from the 16 track tapes from the first movies score.

  • He first used them in TTCM. Back then you could order real human skeletons from India. Tobe knew how to get them. After Return of the Living Dead came out and referenced that fact, you couldn't get them anymore. Very creepy.

  • June 2, 2011, 6:44 p.m. CST

    Poltergeist 2 had real skeletons too in the cave set

    by kabookieslap

    And they were having many accidents and stuff, even after they found out they were real skeletons and removed them. Craig T Nelson was the one to really say something is going on, so he talked to Will Sampson, and will told the studio security "on Friday night, leave the stage door open for me until Sunday after everyone goes home". So they did and he spent the whole weekend doing Native American spirit stuff and after that there were no problems on the set.

  • June 3, 2011, 12:37 a.m. CST

    My Poltergeist Site w/the directing backstory

    by DrSeaton

    I run a fan site dedicated to the "Poltergeist" series. For all things related to the "who really directed it" controversy (as well as the lesser known "who really wrote it" aspect), see and BTW, I'd never seen that first behind the scenes pic before, with Spielberg and the casket. Where was that from?? P.S.-for one last treat, here's a link to Spielberg's original treatment for the film, called "Nighttime:"