Cursed Films: “Poltergeist” Review

As we all remain in quarantine, turning to beloved horror films and shows like Cursed Films to keep us busy, the aforementioned docuseries asks a bold question: can an evil curse spread via an object like a virus?

Analyzing the unfortunate deaths that surrounded the Poltergeist franchise, Cursed Films attempts to understand just what happened.

Mystique From Tragedy
Even more so than the previous films covered in this series, the events surrounding Poltergeist seemed all the more tragic.

The untimely deaths of Dominique Dunne and Heather O’Rourke at the ages of 22 and 12 respectively shocked the world.

Let us not forget that among all the sensationalism about curses, these two young, innocent people tragically lost their lives.

And in the wake of events so horrific, it’s easy for people to want to attribute it to something supernatural. Because if not, it means this world is far more cold and random that we would like to believe.

The Power of Objects
Talismans have held value and meaning in both film and real life for many years. There’s just something about particular objects that we find to be mystical in nature.

It’s the reason why collectors are willing to pay so much for a guitar that Elvis played, or in this case, on screen props from horror films.

So it is with this sentiment in mind, that many fans point to the real skeletons used in the pool scene at the end of the film, as reason for such a curse existing.

One collector revealed that owning the on screen clown doll from the original film scares people far more than any other prop he owns!

However, as recounted by Craig Reardon (SFX Makeup Artist on Poltergeist), using real skeletons goes back many decades in Hollywood, including such classics as The House on Haunted Hill and Frankenstein.

The mere fact is that purchasing a skeleton from a medical supplier is far cheaper than having a prop one made.

Putting the Rumors to Bed
In a somewhat divergent move from the previous two episodes, this one goes the furthest with seemingly dispelling the very “curse” that it advertises.

Between the previously mentioned interview with Craig Reardon, as well as a testimonial by Poltergeist III director, Gary Sherman, they reveal that the true curse was the media attention given to real life tragedies.

There’s a very bittersweet sentiment in Sherman. While he enjoyed working with Heather O’Rourke and called her an absolute delight, he regrets ever getting involved for all the pain it caused. Even though it wasn’t anything he himself did.

Sherman had to go so far as to move and change his phone number after being bombarded by reporters.

The episode ends with very strong and compelling words from Reardon, arguing that not only is this curse theory dangerous, but it’s downright offensive.

And it’s easy to understand why he feels that way. They made a film using the very same techniques as every other at the time, and it just so happened that two actresses involved tragically died before their time.

But this doesn’t mean that one created the other. If anything, the only curse connected with this film franchise is the curse of journalists trying to make attention-grabbing headlines!

Cursed Films is streaming exclusively on Shudder.

You can also check out our reviews for the episodes about The Exorcist and The Omen!

For more reviews, rankings, and other fun horror content, follow Halloween Year-Round on Facebook and Twitter!

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