Typically haunted house films had taken place in a creepy old house that had a history of horrible deaths. But after The Amityville Horror in 1979, more modern houses started becoming the setting for haunted house films.
Steven Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is celebrating its 30 anniversary this year and it’s not alone. Another Spielberg production is too, 1982’s Poltergeist. Both films were made back to back but Spielberg had a clause in his contract with Universal Studios that he couldn’t direct any other movies until E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial was finished so he hired Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre) to direct it. There have been many, many rumours about who actually directed the film. Spielberg co-wrote and produced the film but he was also apparently on set for the entire shoot and thus many people have claimed that Spielberg made the film.
The movie is set in the modern 1980’s. Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams are a married couple with three kids. They live in a new home in a new subdivision. Nelson is a realtor for the company that has been developing the area. One night the youngest of the children (Heather O’Rourke) wakes and goes to talk to a still on but static television. She proceeds to have a conversation with someone or something on the other side. Soon after, some really creepy things start happening in the house. Chairs move by themselves, glasses break and soon things begin to get worse.
This film has become a horror classic. It slowly builds to an intense and thrilling finale where what’s causing all the disturbances is revealed. As for the question of who really directed the film. Tobe Hooper hasn’t made a great film since Poltergeist. Lifeforce is more remembered for the naked alien vampire woman and his remake of Invaders from Mars is only mildly amusing. He made a weird, over the top sequel to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and from there things get much, much worse. As for Steven Spielberg, well, he’s Steven Spielberg.