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Explaining that "weird" cut in poltergeist. read the missing scene.


Why Is There A Strange Cut In The 1982 Horror Classic, Poltergeist?

poltergeist chicken scene

I DEFINITELY remember this scene being longer, and I have ALWAYS remembered, and wondered what happened. I saw it in Massachusetts the weekend it came out as a kid. I also seem to remember Diane describing the sensation in some sort of vaguely sexual way. Something like... Remember the night when you first did (fill in the blanks) to me? It felt like that. That was the reason I always remembered it, because as a kid, I thought it was very naughty. Who knows, maybe I', nuts regarding the conversation, but I totally remember the scene differently.

Sorry, this is the collective unconsious talking. This movie has NEVER been released with the scene you speak of. I saw the original theatrical print (more than once) and it's exactly the same as it was on video and as it is now. It is the same in 70mm and 35mm. It has never, I repeat never been released in its entirety. Not only that, this Pizza hut bullshit being the reason for the cut is nonsence. They would have cut the one line. And this is nonsense anyway as Pizza Hut would have no grounds to sue MGM for saying they hated Pizza Hut. It's called freedom of speech!!

Actually you are WRONG anonymous. I watched it with the Pizza hut line on tape years ago!! You are anonymous because youre embarrased..thats a shame for you.

Lynsey is RIGHT

I also remember this scene in its entirety. Although I was only 4 when it premiered, I know I've seen it because I remember thinking (after Steven says he hates Pizza Hut), "I love Pizza Hut! (I still do actually). This weird "I've seen the scene, but it doesn't exist in any buyable format. But I know I've seen it!" It's "haunted" me for years. It's like the Mandela effect at play. I believe it will always linger in the cemetery of my mind of lost thoughts with no origin point. They just wander about asking, "do you know the answer?" I'm actually watching Poltergeist while I type this, which doesn't help.

No you don't!! Sorry but you don't know what you're talking about. It's highly unlikely that you would remember such a trivial scene that you saw nearly 40 years later and remember it how it was. You are experiences what hypnotists call 'the collective unconsious', which is where you hear something so many times, you actually think you saw remember watching it that way. Think that's bullshit? Trust me it isn't. I have seen 2 different 35mm prints and a 70mm print, which were the first copies they made at the time of release and guess what? Both are exactly the same as the versions I saw on Betamax, VHS and DVD. Not to mention the BD and TV screenings.

I have a copy of a print WITH the scene in it, Anonymous. But I love your both high and mighty-ness flowing forth. And look at your definition of collective unconscious (and spelling) is not only wrong it's a poor definition. If we go by your definition: Lynsey heard it so many times...(heard WHAT so many times) that she thinks she saw remember watching....huh? lol. Here's another thing ANONYMOUS.... Just because you saw two supposedly original prints....means just that... you saw two original prints. THat's all it means. I've seen Psycho about 8 times. Six of those times was a standard viewing. Once it had a slightly different ending. And the only time I saw it in 35 it had a completely different staircase shot. Guess what... can't find it in ANY description anywhere. Talked to two different people who saw the same print, the same night, separately... They saw the same thing. COLLECTIVE UNCONSCIOUS: (in Jungian psychology) is a term introduced by psychiatrist Carl Jung to represent a form of the unconscious (that part of the mind containing memories and impulses of which the individual is not aware) common to mankind as a whole and originating in the inherited structure of the brain. This has very ver little to do with what you are talking about, Anonymous. All things are possible...especially considering how finite our minds are.

This is 2022. If the scene existed someone would have posted it in some form to YouTube (and under "fair use" it couldn't have been taken down.)

After the kitchen scene the omitted scenes are from in their bedroom - smoking pot again - and they were discussing it and were wondering if the same thing happened to the neighbors. So after they get a little high they go next door and ask the neighbor. Which explains why Steven was laughing a bit.

That would make a lit of sense!

I remember that scene and the scene after that explains the weird cut. After the kitchen scene they are in their bedroom discussing what happened in the kitchen. They are getting high again and wondered if the neighbors are having the same issues. After they get high they go next door, Steven laughs a bit which makes more sense now since they just smoked. I can only assume there may have been a bit of an uproar from viewers maybe about the amount of illegal drugs being used and they are parents. Just a guess.

He didn't want the R rating. The movie has a PG rating. PG 13 wasn't around yet.

I to remember that scene. I was 12 when I saw this film at least 4 times. I was interested because I lived in a haunted house, laugh if you must but it's true. Nothing like the movie, but still. I remember that whole scene and then going to the neighbor's. To bad Steven Spielberg doesn't clean up and add to like he did with ET.

Something also missing is the scene where Robbie looks under the bed and the clown and also when his braces unravel and wrap around his face and all over the bathroom.

The "braces" scene was from the second sequel.

I don't understand why such a chunk was taken out when only a couple of lines mentioned Pizza Hut. They could easily have edited those lines out and kept the full scene in.

Exactly, that is precisely my point as to why this whole Pizza Hut bullshit explanation (which has been hanging around the internet for over 20 years now) does not explain why you would cut two scenes (kitcen and porch) together, right slam bang in the middle of two different conversations. Anyone who thinks this is the reason is a complete moron. Like you say, you would simply cut the one line, it's really not that hard. Do people really think that Speilberg and Hooper would allow such a hack cut in the middle of their film if it wasn't inentional. When I meet Speilberg this is the first thing I will ask him. Mind you it wouldn't surprise me if he started this ridiculous urban myth to begin with.

Sorry if this sounds all pervy but I recently got the Blu-Ray of Poltergeist and noticed that the ending scene where Dana shows up right before the house gets sucked into the void seems to have been censored or digitally edited? The hormonal teenager me from 1982 seems to remember a freshly hick'ed, braless Dana's shirt being more noticeably "see-thru" when she screams "whats happening !?!" . The Blu-Ray version looks digitally "fixed" or censored. Anyone with a VHS copy care to verify ...along with the missing pot scene mentioned above?

"They could have easily" is working under the assumption the film is still in the editing process. The entire point of this article is to explain that editing had already finished and Poltergeist was right on the verge of being shipped to movie theaters. This is exactly the kind of quality you get when you literally do not have the time to do the work properly and anybody familiar with editing large budget movies will tell you the same.

I grew up watching the complete movie in it’s entirety. I saw it at my house. The reason my story is different is that I watched it on a early pay satellite service called On TV. The clown scene terrified me. I couldn’t look under my bed for years. I don’t know why they were able to air the unedited version but that’s the version I grew up with.

In fact, I actually remember the "rough cut" (I know, it's too early in the morning for a mediocre pun!) between the two scenes as being incredibly "jumpy" when as a 10-year-old sitting at the Orange Mall cheap Saturday matinee double feature (with, if I remember correctly, one of the Superman sequels). Apparently, the original hired cutter who made that last-minute excision did a horrible job and the product of his work, an edit which on the big screen in Summer '82 looked as though the actual celluloid itself was getting mangled in the projector for a split-second, ended up on every extant theatre copy (at least in Orange, CA). It also SOUNDED like a bad cut: I don't know how to describe it except as the cinematic equivalent of a "clank". At any rate, it made the fact that this was an edited scene, and a poorly edited one at that, pretty darn OBVIOUS.

I grew up in the late 90s and absolutely loved Poltergeist growing up. I always thought it was fun to be scared, I guess you can say it was my first real horror movie. I did notice that weird cut when I was around 9 years old and thought our TVs and DVD players were broken for doing this weird cut. Thank you for sharing this I have always been so curious as to why this happened. However I do wish they could do a re- release of the movie with this scene in its entirety or at least put it as a deleted scene on DVDs.

Yup, I remember the pizza hut comments, I just watched the movie again now with my daughter and noticed this change, along with no "God is in his holy temple " scene

That's in poltergeist 2

So why hasn't the filmmakers ever been adressed about this cut? Can't seem to find anything online. This is 40 years ago this year. There must be something.

I don't want to contradict anyone, but when I saw the film again years later on television, I was shocked to see that several scenes had been cut for the purposes of the schedule (like reducing the film to 105 minutes instead of 114; a common practice in Canadian television broadcasting). In my memory (I saw the film on VHS in a French dub, in the early days of video tape, probably 1983; video clubs didn't exist yet), they had trimmed a fairly effective scene in which we see the worried skepticism of the father after seeing his daughter slip on the kitchen floor. Steve Freeling was looking with obvious concern and denial for the source of this phenomenon, a magnet, the neighbor's remote control? So after seeing the film again on TV (this is the late 1990s) I was so shocked that I even wrote a review on a French-speaking site referring to the Pizza Hut scene. I would like to point out that I had never heard that this scene had been cut and that, all media included. Was I the victim of some kind of twisted Mandela effect, or is there a French VHS dubbing of the mentioned scene somewhere?

I had never seen this extended scene on my VHS, DVD or when I saw this in theatres back in 1982. But I was always suspicious that there was more there because of the abruptness of the cut. The pizza hut reason is very interesting. Something I had never known about. But maybe another reason for the cut was because of showing a child (Carol-Anne) slamming into a wall to the point of damaging it might have been deemed too shocking for audiences. That certainly would have scared me seeing that for the first time.

This movie played constantly on HBO in the 80's. My grandfather had the movie on RCA VideoDisc. One of those two formats had the extra footage. I can quote half the movie from 40 years ago, and I absolutely remember it. I just watched it again on Netflix for the first time in ages and the bad cut was obvious. I was looking for explanations when I found this page.

Also the insect bites came from nowhere im sure years ago it was in the film where the bugs started, now just one pic of bugs on wall left.

I 100% remember seeing the 'missing scene' when I first watched this movie!! I'm 46yr old and watched this with my family when I was a kid. I reside in the UK where I was born (just for reference). I'm rewatching this movie and I'm completely shocked that there's a big chunk of the movie 'missing'!

I have the 1st UK homevideo release of POLTERGEIST from April 1983 on MGM (even has the 'Cast Card'). I need to re-watch that tape and look for that scene shortly after the half-hour mark of the film. I've watched the 1983 UK tape before . . . but it's been several years and I can't remember offhand if the 'I Hate Pizza Hut' line is in there or not. I hope to find out soon! I have recently hooked up my multi-standard VCR (I live in the U.S. so I need one to play PALs).

I don't remember the scene as such, but i do remember it being longer, and certainly don;t remember the stupid cut. Reading back through the quotes, I do remeber something about the smoking a J, then visiting the neighbour, so it is out there somewhere. Someone Anonymous posted here they have the cut scene. I ask them to post it to you tube so we can see it again!

Lynsey is absolutely 10000% right. Great memory Lynsey. That reply from anonymous is anonymous because he or she is too embarrassed and very wrong and knows it.

Actually it IS edited, and not ripped out weirdly. I also watched the original with the pizza hut line. So the anonymous one replying to Lynsey is the one who is wrong. The edited one is currently on YouTube! Lol.

Who didn't like Pizza Hut in the 80s??

The cut still doesn't make sense. Why cut 60 seconds of a scene and ruin part of the film when all they had to do was cut out 3 words? They could have literally just cut the "I hate Pizza Hut" and start at the "Where's dinner" line? If that wasn't possible (for whatever reason), then just cut to Diane's next line. It seems like some studio executive cut the film with a pair of scissors, taped the two halves together and sent it out to theaters. Even an amateur editor starting their first day on the job could have done a much better job.

FIX IT! Use AI and redo the entire scene. Just leave out Pizza Hut or just the “Hut” part. Get other actors but use AI to give them the appearance of the original actors.

It is possible that an uncut version got out there and was quickly replaced after being discovered. This movie was released back in the day where they physically printed copies of the movie and shipped the massive roles of film to theaters around the country. Just because someone saw one cut of the original movie proves nothing about what someone else saw. The fact that this was such a rough cut at the last minute increases the chances that some people out there saw the uncut scene.

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poltergeist chicken scene

Written in Blood: That Bloody Mirror Scene from Poltergeist (1982)

Exploring the Script Behind the Best Practical Effects Sequences in the History of Genre Cinema and How They were Realized on Screen

poltergeist chicken scene

Not watching a movie was easy— I spent most of my childhood doing that . But what I couldn’t control was the power of an image once it was inside my brain. All it took was a glance in the wrong direction, a slight pause as a rectangular slice of terror penetrated my peripheral vision and that was it. I was infected.

So it was that my relationship with Poltergeist (1982) began with an image. A small girl surrounded by darkness, her hands placed against a glowing television screen as a discarded teddy bear lay forgotten beside her. Above the image sat two words: “ They’re here. ”

I hated that cover. Shuddered at the mere thought. Such a cover was the stuff of nightmares, surely, and had a tendency to creep back into my consciousness late at night when I least expected it, just as I was attempting to fall asleep. There was something oddly familiar about it, relatable in a way that was a step or two too close to home. Maybe it was the fact that it was a kid on the cover, or the large console TV that looked like the TV that sat in every middle class American’s living room at the time. Either way, it was dangerous and I wanted no part of it.

poltergeist chicken scene

Even in the early days of my horror education, it was clear that Poltergeist was a monumental film for a multitude of reasons, primarily because it was told so gracefully through such a personal lens. The film spends a great deal of time and effort populating itself with characters who feel real and lived in, making for a family that is deeply relatable and providing an emotionally resonating backbone to the narrative.

It’s the sort of movie that feels oddly safe and comforting since it so closely resembles the mood of 80’s family films that I knew and loved growing up. Of course, it’s for precisely that reason that when the needle drops and the terror enters in that the film succeeds in being so intensely disturbing. Plus, it’s peppered with some of the best practical and special effects work of its time, adding further to the spectacle which amplifies the story to something that feels much bigger in scope than it might have otherwise.

poltergeist chicken scene

Beginning with the desire for an innocuous midnight snack and concluding with the act of tearing his own face off, the scene is quick, mean and shocking in the context of what had been a fairly careful, reserved climb toward horror. It breaks the mold of expectation given the film’s PG rating and reminds the viewer what the invisible beast who resides in the house is capable of.

poltergeist chicken scene

It’s a scene that echoes the unnerving tagline which always stared back at me from that VHS cover. After all, in light of watching the skin being torn away from his face, I think Marty needed little convincing otherwise that they were indeed there .

Marty enters the kitchen. He opens the refrigerator and shuffles around for a snack. He takes a chicken leg and puts it in his mouth before removing a steak and placing it on the counter. He crosses the kitchen and sets a pan on the stove. He pauses due to a strange sound. He shines a flashlight on the counter and watches as the steak moves itself along like a slug. It stops and begins to expand, more meat churning and bursting from its center. He spits out the chicken leg and stares at it on the kitchen floor. It’s covered in maggots. He runs to the utility room, coughing into the sink and splashing water on his face. He turns to the mirror and notices a gash. He pulls at it and proceeds to pull the skin off of his face, exposing muscle sinew and bone beneath. There’s a flash and he’s fine, alone in the bathroom, feeling his face.

poltergeist chicken scene

The refrigerator is the perfect target for Tak’s housebreaking skills.

The script is written through a blue-collar lens, describing the scene as the character might describe it, rather than breaking it down practically. This perspective allows for nuance and creativity in the filmmaking as well as a more engaging experience for the reader, further bolstering the everyday relatability which makes the overall story so effective.

Tak takes out a salad bowl and noshes from that, but his chewing is too loud so he opts for a beautiful New York steak wrapped in cellophane.

In the film, Marty, referred to in the script as Tak, enters the kitchen and gravitates toward a box of Ritz crackers on the countertop. He reaches in and eats one somewhat distractedly. The camera tracks with him as he moves to the refrigerator. He opens it and bends down to look inside. He shoves a chicken leg in his mouth as he moves before finally landing on a large steak. He pulls the meat out and sniffs it, putting it down on an adjacent countertop.

poltergeist chicken scene

The protracted entryway into the scene puts the viewer in Marty’s headspace. Sure, what’s happening onscreen isn’t anything special, but it’s small, quiet moments like this which lend credence to the overtly supernatural terrors juxtaposed against it.

The sound he hears is wet and gross, referred to in the script as A CRAWLING GUSHY SOUND that bubbles and softly hisses. In the script, Marty can’t make out what it is that’s making the sound at first, seeing a shape moving along the counter  before shining his flashlight over to get a good look. In the film, the image cuts directly to the steak which slowly slithers, slug-like along the countertop, the sound protruding from it as unpleasant and unappetizing as the script suggests.

The screen cuts back and forth from Marty to the steak for a moment, before landing on the flashlight. The light clicks on and the camera pans up to Marty’s face, illuminated as if he’s about to tell a ghost story to some unsuspecting kids at summer camp. At that point the steak stops and, now spotlighted, begins to bubble and curdle in its center. Meat bursts forth from within, reproducing itself and churning outward in a kind of grotesque, low pressure geyser of raw, chopped flesh.

poltergeist chicken scene

He starts to gag looking at it and realizes the chicken is still in his mouth.

poltergeist chicken scene

A thousand maggots crawl away from it into the dark corners of the kitchen.

While the maggots Marty sees onscreen do not range in the hundreds, let alone a thousand , the effect is the same. He gasps and runs into the utility room adjacent to the kitchen. The film excises his scripted retching in favor of some coughing as well as a cut away to his counterpart still surveying the monitors near the stairs. Staying in the moment at this point is one of the key reasons the intensity ratchets up so successfully.

poltergeist chicken scene

Onscreen, this evolved into a very different manifestation of death and decay. The light intensifies, altering from soft white to a bright orange and red hue, something suggested at the tail end of the scene by the script, as Marty notices a gash on his cheek and prods at it. Blood leaks out, dripping into the white sink.

poltergeist chicken scene

All told the 26 second sequence contains 16 different cuts before finally holding on Marty’s bloody, fleshless skull, its jaw agape in utter horror, appearing as a reanimated corpse that feels like it stumbled off of an R-rated Italian Zombie picture. Then, the red light intensifies once more and suddenly normalizes, leaving Marty to stand before the mirror as he was, unscathed. In the words of the script, BACK TO NORMAL.

poltergeist chicken scene

The final frames of the scene find Marty feeling his face uncertainly, looking around the utility room and then back out into the kitchen and the rest of the house. He knows what they who reside in the place are capable of. His fear has been redefined.

It’s another step toward understanding what it is the characters are up against. After all, it’s not all chair stacking and floating toys, there’s something darker and far more sinister at play… and whatever expectations they might’ve had going in, are about to be defied.


poltergeist chicken scene

From the damning inferences I made given the simple image of a girl with her hand on a fuzzy television screen in the dark to the moment I finally saw Poltergeist, I was taken in by everything the picture had to offer. The relatability, the family element, the everyday nature of it all— each component served to indoctrinate the movie into my subconscious, adding credibility that made the drama more poignant and the horror more palpable.

poltergeist chicken scene

As scripted, the scene stops short a bit, revealing the character in the mirror as a decaying body rather than graphically showcasing the decay by way of grasping hands. When it finally landed on celluloid, under the guidance of Tobe Hooper’s brilliant sensibilities for horror, the scene was something else entirely, brought to life through practical effects and blue-collar ingenuity, from the top of the production to the line level.

“Spielberg was literally hands-on during the scene where Marty rips his own face off,” Gary Sussman wrote in a 2017 retrospective of Poltergeist for Moviefone ( Found here ). “The effect was accomplished with a model bust of the actor’s head, but he was nervous about handling the only bust the production had, so those are Spielberg’s own hands you see tearing at Marty’s flesh.”

poltergeist chicken scene

There’s a power to that kind of belief. That brand of fear. And when you combine the inviting warmth and wonder of Steven Spielberg with the beautifully disturbing realness of Tobe Hooper, what emerges is not just a great horror film, but a great film .

As a kid, very little got under my skin more than the horror aisle at the video store. Not because of the one’s I had seen, but because of all that I hadn’t. What those mysterious VHS tapes might entail. Thinking back on it now, I wonder how many of those boxes scared me far more than the movies inside ever could.

Still, at that age, I suppose being afraid of what might be in that TV was probably better than seeing a guy rip his own face off. Either way, once I laid eyes on it, the movie, like its villainous entity, was there . Present in my world. And, like all the best movies, always would be… whether I was afraid or not.

Poltergeist (1982): Written by Steven Spielberg & Michael Grais & Mark Victor & Directed by Tobe Hooper


poltergeist chicken scene

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poltergeist chicken scene

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poltergeist chicken scene

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Bloody Disgusting!

This Scene Almost Earned ‘Poltergeist’ an R Rating

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It is common knowledge now that Tobe Hooper’s  Poltergeist , which celebrates its 35th anniversary today,   almost single-handedly brought about the advent of the PG-13 rating. With the “help” of later-released violent PG-rated films like  Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom  and  Gremlins , the Motion Picture Association of America decided that there needed to be another rating in between a PG and an R. There had to be films that weren’t restricted to teenagers but still too intense for younger children. After all, watching a man peel off his own face isn’t exactly family-friendly material.

It’s safe to assume that nearly everyone reading this has seen  Poltergeist , but if you haven’t be warned that spoilers will follow.

Poltergeist  has several terrifying scenes peppered throughout its 114-minute runtime, but the most memorable of which is the sequence in which Marty (Martin Casella) hallucinates peeling his face off in the mirror (fun fact: the hands peeling off his face belong to none other than Steven Spielberg himself).

I remember seeing  Poltergeist  for the first time back when I was about 11 or 12. My dad rented it for me from Blockbuster and I distinctly remember seeing the words “with face peeling scene” in the description on the back of the box. Of course, I didn’t really understand what that meant, but I (and my father) figured it was fine. Little did I know that this is what I would be in for.

As you can imagine, this scene was fairly traumatizing for me, a child who had never seen a truly gory horror film at that point ( I wasn’t allowed to watch R-rated movies until I was 15 or so). But I’m okay now so it’s all good. In all honesty though, how did this manage to get by with a PG rating? Hooper and Spielberg appealed the R rating, that’s how. It’s unclear just what went on in that meeting, but the face peeling scene had to be the main point of contention between the MPAA and the filmmakers. My guess? Spielberg and Hooper used the argument that because the face peeling wasn’t actually real it shouldn’t be taken so seriously. The sequence is, after all, merely a hallucination. It was just a trick played on Marty by the titular villain, and that somehow makes it less intense in the context of the film. Of course I have no idea if that was the argument that Spielberg and Hooper posed (and it’s not even that convincing), but it would make sense. It’s no different than  Sin City  getting an R rating because the majority of blood in the film isn’t red (the more red blood featured in a film, the more likely it is to get a harsher rating). Nevertheless, Spielberg and Hooper won the appeal and  Poltergeist  was granted a PG rating.

It should come as no surprise that TV screenings left out a few of the more graphic images presented in the film, the most notable of which was the face-peeling scene (they also cut out the maggots crawling out of the steak for some reason). I can only assume that this was the same cut that was in the “safe” VHS version of  Poltergeist  that Blockbuster was renting out, but suffice it to say that I’m very happy my dad grabbed the unedited one. You can see the difference in the clip below.

It doesn’t exactly have the same effect as the uncut version but, for the most part, it still gets the job done. Hooper and Spielberg must have known that they may run into trouble with the uncut scene though. After all, why film an alternate scene at all? They filmed this alternate take to use in case they had to remove the scene entirely. At least it still managed to get used so filming it wasn’t a total waste.

Which version of  Poltergeist  did you see first (if you’ve seen both of them)? Do you remember the first time you saw the famous face peeling scene? Share your memories in the comments below and help celebrate  Poltergeist ‘s 35th anniversary! Also, enjoy Family Guy ‘s rather funny homage to  Poltergeist , which puts a nice little spin on the face peeling scene.

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A journalist for Bloody Disgusting since 2015, Trace writes film reviews and editorials, as well as co-hosts Bloody Disgusting's Horror Queers podcast, which looks at horror films through a queer lens. He has since become dedicated to amplifying queer voices in the horror community, while also injecting his own personal flair into film discourse. Trace lives in Austin, TX with his husband and their two dogs. Find him on Twitter @TracedThurman

poltergeist chicken scene

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‘Primeval’ – Revisiting a Flawed But Unique Killer Croc Movie

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While “based on a true story” is typically a ploy to lure in audiences, the basis of the 2007 movie Primeval does, in fact, exist. Or at least he did, at one point. The whereabouts of what many deem the “world’s most prolific killer” — a decades-old Nile crocodile named Gustave who allegedly claimed somewhere between 200 and 300 human lives — are murky nowadays. Some say Burundi’s most infamous reptile is long gone, and others demand proof of his passing. Regardless, Gustave’s notoriety lives on in this panned Hollywood creature-feature with a severe identity crisis. 

Back then, it was understandable to have a cursory look at the original ad campaign for Primeval and not realize the movie is about a crocodile. An intentionally vague trailer led to complaints of deception from viewers; they were expecting a movie about a human serial killer. Imagine their surprise once they watched Primeval , which, for obvious reasons, was not screened for critics before its release. Bumping up the premiere by several months — to January, no less — also did not bode well. As anticipated, Michael Katleman’s directorial feature debut was chewed up and spat out by critics.

In cinema, 2007 was the year of the crocodile. Along with Rogue , Greg McLean’s much anticipated follow-up to Wolf Creek , was another Australian ripped-from-the-headlines saltie thriller called Black Water . However, both movies did not see a commercial release until after Primeval was rushed out by Buena Vista. Behind-the-scenes drama sank Rogue ’s chance of a theatrical premiere in the United States, whereas Black Water slipped under the radar despite positive reviews. Needless to say, Primeval was the only one of this toothy trio to grace the American big screen. Critics did not miss an opportunity to note the small surge of croc horror that year, and a few did their damndest to steer potential viewers away from Primeval and toward Rogue (even with McLean’s sophomore pic being stuck in distribution hell). Nevertheless, the dissuasion was undue. As confused and uneven as Primeval turned out to be, the movie’s disreputation is not completely warranted. 


Image: Orlando Jones and Brooke Langton’s characters run from danger in Primeval.

The criticism of Primeval taking itself too seriously seems almost strange to hear these days. By and large, though, people still expect “nature’s revenge” horror to be silly and campy. The subgenre has its roots to consider, yet after so much frivolity from the Syfy side as well as the lingering effects of the postmodern horror wave, a straight approach for this kind of movie was good in theory. The execution, on the other hand, made Primeval not only difficult to digest but also tonally awkward.

The attempt to make Primeval an issue-film is far from perfect. Maybe even reckless. Worst of all, John Brancato and Michael Ferris ’ bizarre and totally unsubtle script does not accomplish much of anything in the end apart from some inevitable white knighting. The political framing device does, at the very least, fatten up an otherwise anemic story. The basic concept of a TV network staging the capture of the legendary Gustave could have gone either way. After all, safe and undemanding is the norm for monster movies. It is the unconventional, not to mention questionable pairing of a maneater’s intrinsic horrors with the atrocities of a civil war that ultimately muddies the water. This is not the sort of exploitation that viewers signed up for.

As self-important as Primeval comes across, it does manage to be self-aware from time to time. The frequent scene-stealer and most likable character, a comical American cameraman played to the max by Orlando Jones , has a real way with words. Following the Gustave-related death of a British forensic anthropologist in Burundi, Jones’ character Steven sums up the movie’s inciting incident best: “You know what, this crocodile’s like O.J. Simpson; he messed up when he killed that white woman.” Vulgar, yes, but not too off the mark in this case. And when it comes to the indifference toward urgent domestic affairs in Africa, Primeval points a finger at the West. Funnily enough, the script is guilty of its own accusation. The constant prioritization of animals over human lives also comes up as the movie’s own resident croc hunter ( Gideon Emery ) states there are “more than enough human beings on this planet” and Gustave is of “greater value.” Mind you, he has the audacity to say this as genocide continues in Burundi.


Image: Gustave the killer Nile Crocodile appears in Primeval’s finale.

Primeval could have very well been pitched as Lake Placid meets Blood Diamond . Although, this cocktail of bestial horror and political thriller is often more sobering than inebriating, especially when the American characters get mixed up with the Burundi warlord who goes by the nickname of Little Gustave ( Dumisani Mbebe ). Other movies would refrain from being so on the nose about their message, but Primeval lacks nuance. The metaphor here does not go unnoticed or unsaid as  Dominic Purcell spoon-feeds it to both his co-star,  Brooke Langton , and the audience. Upon learning Little Gustave’s victims wind up as meals for Big Gustave, Purcell’s character says with a straight face: “We make, create, our own monsters.”

Clumsy and unrefined as it may be as a political piece, Primeval moderately succeeds as a creature-feature. The movie’s insatiable centerpiece always leaves the audience wanting more during his meager appearances. Those run-ins with Gustave include implausible but exhilarating set-pieces that embody 2000s Hollywood excess. Due to an extensive and flagrant use of CGI — the movie ended up abandoning a practical animatronic during filming — Gustave resembles and acts like a mythical dragon more than anything tangible and existing in nature. The guttural roar in place of an authentic croc hiss evokes memories of the growling shark in Jaws: The Revenge , and Gustave’s ability to gallop across grasslands and crawl up and down the sides of a cage defies both credibility and physics. Still and all, more go-for-broke stunts and less bleak warfare for the sake of genre entertainment would have immensely benefited Primeval . When the movie leans into its cold-blooded antagonist’s predation, it is undoubtedly more satisfying.

Primeval remains polarizing all these years later. Admittedly, the opportunistic and misguided political element preoccupies way too much of the story, but several bright spots — namely Gustave’s flashy feats, Orlando Jones’ amusing if not indelicate turn, and the surplus of South African vistas — help raise the value of this widely panned monster romp. It can be argued that Primeval does too much for a movie of this caliber; it feels stuck between two genres. As a counterpoint, its flawed and messy ambition is still preferable to all the more routine crocsploitation movies currently swimming in existence.


Image: Brooke Langton, Dominic Purcell and Gideon Emery in Primeval.

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Ten horror movie food scenes that will make you shudder.

Movie directors know that the quickest way to the audience’s gag reflex is through its stomach

Lisa Bramen

Lisa Bramen


Here are a few of the most notable food scenes in the history of the genre:

1. Nosferatu (1922) So begins one of the most enduring horror movie themes: humans (or, in this case, human blood) as food . This vampire movie, a silent film, is more likely to make you chuckle at its awkward editing and melodramatic acting than cringe in terror, but this Dracula is truly hideous-looking, with sunken eyes and pointy, oversized ears. This is what vampires are supposed to look like, not the teen idols of the Twilight series or HBO’s True Blood .

2. Psycho (1960) Alfred Hitchcock used food, like every other detail, to advance the plot or reveal character. There are so many great Hitchcock food scenes that two French women even wrote a cookbook based on them (available only in French, it appears). One typical scene is in Psycho , when Janet Leigh’s character, Marion, pecks uneasily at her toast—perhaps sensing the meal will be her last—as she converses with the creepy young motel keeper Norman Bates in his room full of stuffed birds.

3. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) If you’re ever tempted to complain about your sibling, just watch this classic psychological thriller by Robert Aldrich. Bette Davis is deliciously wicked—and wickedly loony—as Jane, the has-been actress who torments her wheelchair-bound sister Blanche, played by Joan Crawford. One of the most unforgettable scenes is when Jane brings Blanche lunch on a covered tray, casually mentioning that she’s discovered rats in the basement. Blanche—and the audience—knows exactly what she’ll find under the tray, but she can’t help seeing for herself.

4. Matango: Attack of the Mushroom People (1963) What’s better than a B-movie about castaways on a desert island who turn into giant killer fungi? A B-movie about castaways on a desert island who turn into giant killer fungi that’s dubbed from Japanese . Be sure to watch the hilarious trailer to the end for a view of the fearsome mushroom people.

5. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (1978) Technically, this is a comedy spoof of cheesy disaster flicks, but it still gives me flashbacks of a traumatic experience I had with a cherry tomato that exploded on me in preschool. The horror. The horror.

6. Alien (1979) The crew members of a space ship are eating together. As soon as John Hurt’s character says that the first thing he’s going to do when he gets back to Earth is get some decent food, you know that he’s a goner. Moments later, he starts gagging and writhing in pain . At first his crew mates think it’s bad indigestion—that is, until an alien baby bursts from his stomach. I sometimes feel like this when I eat too much. (Watching the video requires sign-in and age verification)

7. Poltergeist (1982) I was 11 when this movie came out, and it left me with two lasting effects. One was a fear of clowns. The other, I suspect, was the seed of what turned me into a vegetarian a few years later. The latter was due to the following scene, in which a young parapsychologist goes to the kitchen for a late-night snack while investigating the strange occurrences in a suburban house. He munches on a chicken drumstick and pulls a raw steak out of the fridge, which proceeds to crawl across the counter and then vomit its insides. The investigator drops the drumstick, which he then realizes is crawling with maggots. Warning: Watch this clip only if you have an iron stomach. I had to stop it because it made me gag.

8. The Stuff (1985) Another entry in the more-ridiculous-than-scary genre, this cult classic about a mysterious gooey dessert that turns people into zombies includes cameos by Paul Sorvino and Danny Aiello, and stars Saturday Night Live alumnus Garrett Morris as “Chocolate Chip.” Tagline: Are you eating it…or is it eating you?

9. The Silence of the Lambs (1991) I could do a whole list of just cannibalism scenes in horror movies, but I’ll let Hannibal Lecter’s chilling description of eating a census taker’s liver represent them all. It’s not a graphic depiction (unlike the sequel, Hannibal , in which Lecter feeds Ray Liotta pieces of his own brain), but it probably introduced more Americans to fava beans than any cooking show.

10. Se7en (1995) Trying to cure your cravings for carbs? Just watch this scene from the movie about a serial killer who tortures and kills people according to the seven deadly sins they represent. The gluttony target is force-fed spaghetti until his stomach explodes. The ultimate victim will be your appetite. In fact, I’ll spare you the clip. If you want to see it that bad, you can look it up yourself.

What’s your favorite horror movie food scene?

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Lisa Bramen

Lisa Bramen | | READ MORE

Lisa Bramen was a frequent contributor to's Food and Think blog. She is based in northern New York and is also an associate editor at Adirondack Life magazine.

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  • The last one is even worse in the book, where that is just part of a greater manifestation. First, he sees his midnight snack sprout tumors and maggots, then he peels his face off, then he's paralyzed while trying to run away from the manifestation. Then, he's eaten alive by a spider swarm, feeling every detail. Then, he's eaten by rats, then worms, then he crumbles to sub-atomic dust. Again, he can feel everything as it happens.
  • The end of the movie, when the closet has a huge mouth sucking the kids into the portal. The fact that it's growling like a monster doesn't help either.
  • The Beast's sound-only introduction: Carol-Anne is making contact with her family from the other side, but all of a sudden something scares her off and she "runs" off screaming. Then a low growling manifests all around the family and investigators, getting louder, before erupting in a loud breathy roar that unleashes a wave of force knocking everyone on their asses.
  • When the giant flaming skull pops out of the portal in the closet - and far more what it represents. Steven was told not to pull on the rope by Tangina. He did it anyway, and what came out attached to the rope wasn't his wife — it was the beast .
  • The simple fact that it all unfolds in somebody's tract home in a seemingly ordinary suburban neighborhood, not out in the woods or whatever, is pretty creepy. How many people who watch this for the first time can avoid looking suspiciously at their closet doors for several nights?
  • Critics initially blew off this movie as "not scary enough" because nobody gets killed messily. But seriously - ask any parent how they would feel to see their five-year-old dragged off by malevolent spirits, unable to reach them or stop it. Bonus: being able to hear your terrified child screaming for you to save her... with no way of knowing where she is.
  • Also, look at the bottom-left chair. Two of its legs are resting on air. The chairs are not just stacked, the weight of the chairs on top is all that's holding the ones on the ends in place. Which is nearly as creepy, because there's no way that one person could do that, even given several minutes in which to do it. Which implies, right from the beginning of the haunting, that there are multiple ghosts at work. It's worse when you remember that the silverware was bent out of shape while the family was still at the table .
  • The movie has an uncanny tendency to have long scenes of relative calm and normalcy (even after the poltergeists have made their presence known), only for the HSQ to suddenly turn up out of nowhere as things start bursting out the closet, toys start moving around on their own, and bright lights start shining. It has a thoroughly unnerving effect.
  • The film has several quiet scenes that give the audience plenty of time to anticipate something horrible happening. Diane knocking on the bedroom door. Robby hearing the clown hit the floor while Diane is taking a bath. The meter recording spirit activity activates and goes off the scale while the technician is listening to music and drawing in a sketchpad.
  • A bit of Enforced Method Acting , said to have been Steven Spielberg 's idea. The corpses in the final scene were real , as using real skeletons was cheaper than getting plastic ones.
  • The very, very end of the film, where the theme music stops and turns into creepy children's laughter, which continues even after the title fades. Not horrifying, but it's definitely unsettling.
  • Tangina's expository monologue, detailing exactly what's going on in the house and what they're up against.
  • The scene with the meat on the counter moving by itself and imploding blood. Marty sees it and drops the chicken out of his mouth, maggots crawling all over it. Marty can only react in horror as he stumbles over to the sink in the closet where comes another famous moment where he begins to suddenly start peeling the skin right off his face! Only to see it was some kind of hallucination made by the spirits.

Alternative Title(s): Poltergeist

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poltergeist chicken scene


How Did 'Poltergeist' (1982) Get a PG Rating?

poltergeist chicken scene

On Friday, a remake of the 1982 classic Poltergeist hit theaters . It earned itself a PG-13 rating for what is ultimately a haunted house tale with some nifty CGI thrown in for good measure. In 2015, the idea that a horror movie not aimed directly at kids (like the perfectly creepy Coraline ) could get a PG rating is absurd. Horror today is such a gore fest there is no way the MPAA would let even a tame horror movie for adults be given a rating designated for family friendly fare. Oh how the times have changed. Back in 1982 when Poltergeist , which in my humble opinion is one of the scariest horror movies ever made, was released the MPAA was a lot more lenient because Poltergeist is certainly not a movie a seven-year-old should be watching. Especially if that seven-year-old lives in the suburbs.

Poltergeist is one of my favorite movies of all time. I vividly remember the first time I watched it. I was around 10 and the movie came on television. I was completely entranced by Carol Anne's creepy pronouncement, "They're here!" and I spent the next two hours becoming increasingly more freaked out as the family dealt with more and more paranormal activity. By the time bedtime came around I was so petrified of the TV I crawled in with my mom to ensure I made it through the night. To this day, Poltergeist still frightens me, but as an adult viewer it's not just the scary scenes that shock. After watching these scenes, you too will be asking yourself how Poltergeist ended up with a PG rating.

1. The Parents Smoke Weed In Their Bedroom

Early in the movie before all the crazy poltergeist business starts happening, there is a completely naturalistic scene between Diane (JoBeth Williams) and Steve (Craig T. Nelson) where they hang out in their bedroom, smoking pot, rolling joints, and discussing a time when Diane was a child and her father thought she might have been sexually assaulted after sleep walking. The scene grounds the film and introduces us to Diane and Steve, but can you image what would happen now if a PG film just tossed in recreational drug use like it was no big deal and had two little kids come into the room a moment later?

2. Robbie Gets Snatched By The Tree

Robbie is almost eaten by a tree outside his window. This little kid is literally yanked out of his bedroom window by a possessed tree. I have no idea how director Tobe Hooper made the scene look so realistic, but it still holds up today.

3. Carol Anne's Voice is Heard Through The TV Set

I know as a kid I thought of the TV as a close, personal friend. The TV is certainly not supposed to suck up small children and deposit them in purgatory where they get chased by evil monsters their parents can't see or protect them from. The fear in Carol Anne's voice is what sells this scene the most. Given how young she is, it makes the whole situation all the more disturbing.

4. The Face Melting

Poltergeist is not an especially gory movie, but when it does get bloody it goes for broke with the double whammy of one paranormal investigator hallucinating his face getting melted off while the other watches a steak decompose right in front of him. I am still not over the face peeling — in what world is that kid appropriate?

5. The Rebirth Scene

One of the most impressive parts of Poltergeist is its emphasis on female relationships, especially between mothers and daughters. Ultimately, only Diane can save her daughter and she does so by going into purgatory to get her back. The visuals blatantly call forth images of birth, including Carol Anne and Diane being expelled from purgatory covered in goo and everyone waiting for Carol Anne to take a breath. The symbolism would go over children's heads, but what was the MPAA's excuse?

6. Diane Is Dragged Onto the Ceiling

Just when you think it's all over, Diane is forcefully held down on the bed by the demon before it sends her flying to the ceiling. The scene is both violent and sexually suggestive in a way that never fails to make me shudder.

7. The Skeletons

There are a lot of urban legends surrounding Poltergeist , but one of those legends is absolutely true: the skeletons used in the movie were real human remains . The real kicker is no one told Williams they were real before she was put in the muddy pool with them. Her screams are not method acting is what I'm saying.

8. The Clown

Even if you have never seen Poltergeist , you have probably seen the clown from Poltergeist . The clown was scary way back at the beginning of the movie when it was just leering at Robbie, but when it tries to strangle him at the end? Game over.

Now you know what a PG movie looked like in 1982, kids. Pretty different, huh?

Images: MGM; Giphy (2)

poltergeist chicken scene

5 Unsettling Food Scenes In Horror Movies

There's no comfort food here. These food-centric scenes from horror movies use meals to disgust, revolt, and terrify the audience.

Food is something that brings people together, a universal comfort. In films like Chef and Pig, food is a driving force for the story; in Studio Ghibli films, food is portrayed with reverence and beauty . When used in horror films, it's often a different story altogether, often used to disquiet, disturb and divide.

In horror, food is more often a disgusting experience. From maggoty meat to unsavory custard to misfortune cookies, horror films like to get creative in the ways that they use food to disturb audiences. These instances are examples of the most unsettling food-centric moments in horror movie history.

RELATED : 8 Foods In Games That Look Absolutely Disgusting

Fortune Cookies – IT (1990)

Stephen King's IT was first brought to the screen in a two-part miniseries in 1990. Played by legendary actor Tim Curry, Pennywise the Dancing Clown terrorizes the town of Derry every 27, years but comes up against more than he bargained for in the Losers Club. After thinking they had defeated the cosmic clown 27 years before, it becomes clear Pennywise has returned to Derry — and thus so must the Losers Club.

Once the now-adult Losers return to Derry, they get together at a local restaurant to catch up. At the end of the meal, the waitress brings over fortune cookies, and things get very weird, very quickly. Beverley cracks hers open only to be sprayed in blood, Eddie's contains a cockroach, Richie's has an eye looking back at him, Ben's has a weird crab creature in it, and Mike's births a horrible half-alive baby bird. No one else can see what is happening at the table and the Losers escape, shaken and looking over their shoulders for a lurking clown.

The End of Gluttony – Seven

In Seven, a serial killer is terrorizing the city, and ultimately Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman , by murdering people in ways related to the seven deadly sins. The killer is not just murdering his victims; he is torturing them in inventive and horrific ways. The murder that begins the whole story is the gluttony-based murder of an unnamed victim.

Pitt and Freeman's detectives are called to the scene where a morbidly obese man has been found face down in a plate of spaghetti. As they investigate, it becomes apparent that the man was force-fed until his stomach burst. The scene is gruesome, featuring the man's esophagus still stuffed with spaghetti and his bloated corpse covered with cockroaches. However, it's merely a preview of what is to follow.

Custard – Brain Dead

Peter Jackson's early films are a far cry from the sprawling Tolkien epics that he is known for today. His early works are an exercise in gross-out splatter comedy that is almost unrivaled. In Brain Dead (alternate title Dead Alive ), New Zealand mama's boy Lionel suddenly has a lot more to deal with than his mother Vera's obsessive controlling nature, after she is bitten by a Sumatran Rat Monkey and falls ill. Eventually, she succumbs to sickness and becomes a zombie , but not before creating some chaos and serving some custard.

In one scene, some local dignitaries are over for dinner. They notice something is wrong, but carry on regardless. When it's time for dessert, the custard is served, and one of the guests gets a little extra sauce. Vera scratches the bite on her arm, which shoots bloody pus into the guest's bowl without him noticing. He then consumes the custard, raving about how good it is as his wife and Lionel look on disgusted. Shortly afterward, Vera's ear falls off and lands in her bowl. She promptly eats it, soliciting much screaming from the assembled guests .

Chicken Dinner – Eraserhead

David Lynch's Eraserhead is famous for being an incredible work of surrealism. Set in a kind of industrial wasteland, the story follows Henry Spencer, a man dealing with the fear of being a father and being stuck in mundane life. The film features a plethora of strange symbolism and imagery, including floating heads, giant sperm, horrible alien babies, and grotesque man-made chickens .

In the world of Eraserhead, the hot new food on the market is man-made chickens, which are just like the real thing. Henry is urged just to cut the chicken up as though it were a regular chicken, and as he does, it begins to bleed profusely. The chicken twitches and bubbles as Henry's girlfriend's mother moans and becomes agitated, eventually running out of the room. The entire scene is an uncomfortable situation symbolic of Henry's fear of being tied down, made worse by the horrible twitching and squelching of the tiny chicken.

Steak and Chicken – Poltergeist

Tobe Hooper's classic haunted house film Poltergeist is densely packed with iconic moments and enough lore to spawn talk of curses for decades. From Carol-Anne exclaiming that "They're here!" to the terrifying clown doll that comes to life with murderous intent, there are a lot of moments that made a huge impact on audiences, including one food-centric scene.

As activity ramps up at the house, the Freeling family recruits paranormal investigators to help them discover what is causing their problems. In the middle of the night, one of the investigators gets hungry and raids the fridge, throwing a raw steak onto the kitchen counter for some reason and sticking a chicken drumstick in his mouth. As he chows down on the chicken, the steak begins to crawl its way across the counter, before bubbling and turning itself inside out as the investigator watches. He drops the chicken in surprise and looks to find it crawling with maggots. He then runs to the bathroom and proceeds to peel his face off in the mirror before the hallucination ends. The scene is memorable for multiple reasons, all of them gross.

MORE: Underappreciated Horror Movies About Food


Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead

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When the American Chicken Bunker, a military themed fast food restaurant, builds its latest chain restaurant on the site of an ancient Native American burial ground, the displaced spirits take revenge on unsuspecting diners and transform them into chicken zombies! Now, it’s up to a dimwitted counter boy, his collegiate lesbian ex-girlfriend and a burqa-wearing fry cook to put an end to the foul feathered menace once and for all.

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Inside the Hell House of the Original 'Poltergeist'

The original ‘Poltergeist’ house (MGM)

Released last Friday, the remake of the 1982 horror classic Poltergeist was greeted with a lukewarm response from critics . In fairness, it was always going to be hard for director Gil Kenan to match the heights reached by the original, which was written and produced by Steven Spielberg and directed by Tobe Hooper.

Both movies depict the terrifying ordeal of a family whose suburban house is haunted by some very angry ghosts. While the new Poltergeist saved money by shooting in Ontario, Canada, the original stayed in Hollywood’s backyard: The neighborhood depicted at the beginning of the film was located in Agoura Hills, a small town in Los Angeles County. Meanwhile, the house that is supposed to belong to the Freelings — the haunted family at the center of the original — was actually located in nearby Simi Valley. Yahoo Movies recently talked to the original movie’s production designer, Jim Spencer, about how they chose the ultimate house from hell.

“Steven liked that house because it was the end of the road,” Spencer recalled. “It was a two story Valley-type mock Tudor and it just fit everything. The neighborhood [was what] we call ‘Spielbergia,’ where E.T. and a couple of his other films were shot. He always wanted to be in normal residential areas.”

Craig T. Nelson and James Karen in Poltergeist (MGM)

In some ways, Poltergeist is the polar opposite of E.T. , which was shot soon after the horror film wrapped. While E.T. celebrates the quiet suburban world in which Spielberg himself was raised, Poltergeist can be read as a criticism of the cookie-cutter neighborhoods that were rapidly claiming what little was left of undeveloped Southern California.

“The movie made the area look like it was over-developed. But in actuality, it’s a beautiful bedroom community surrounded by rolling hills, dozens of hiking trails, parks, and playgrounds and hundreds of historic oak trees,” Harry Medved, the co-author of Location Filming in Los Angeles , told Yahoo Movies. “With all the surrounding green space, you wouldn’t recognize it from Poltergeist ’s establishing shots.”

Watch the trailer for the original ‘Poltergeist’ below:

As is revealed late in the film, the unsettled souls that torment the Freelings belong to the bodies that were buried in a cemetery that the newly-built community had just displaced. Oddly enough, in 1969, an old Native American cemetery was unearthed while excavating land for a Vons supermarket in Agoura Hills. There’s nothing to suggest that the graveyard inspired the film, or that Spielberg even knew about it while writing the screenplay, but it certainly adds a dose of realism to the supernatural story.

While the Poltergeist exteriors were shot on location at the house, most of the film was made on the sound stages at MGM Studios in Culver City. (After all, they couldn’t exactly destroy a perfectly nice home in the suburbs.)

Spencer worked with George Lucas’ effects team at Industrial Light and Magic to design the sets so that they could accommodate the massive machines built just for the film. In fact, every set was built 10 feet off the ground, so that they could shoot things like coffins through the floor.

One of the most memorable set pieces (above) involved little Robbie Freeling (Oliver Robins) being pulled from his bed by an evil tree that busts through his window. While this would now be done quite easily with computer animation (see: Groot), the scene required ILM to build an entire mechanical tree that could actually grab the kid. “We built a special part of his room just for that,” Spencer recalled. “If you look at the scale of him to the fingers of the tree, those things were about eight feet long. It was all mechanical.”

Heather O’Rourke in ‘Poltergeist’ (MGM)

Robbie’s little sister, Carol Anne, also fell victim to thieving demons on the night of the tree attack. And while the film showed the siblings sharing a bedroom, each had an entirely separate set built for their half of the room. Carol Anne has the misfortune of being sucked into the endless void in her closet (above).

“We put the set on a huge revolving gimbal that turned 360 degrees so all the stuff just fell into the closet,” Spencer explained (a brief glimpse at the effect in action can be seen here ). “We designed it so it would funnel that way. It was a 90 degree tilt and so everything just fell into the room and we sprinkled really small confetti to add to the lighting aspect of it as all the stuff went into the closet.”

The production team didn’t just re-create the interior of the house — they also rebuilt the backyard on the soundstage. The big climactic scene, when a pounding storm hits the quaint neighborhood, required turning a pool into a mud-filled pit from which coffins and angry skeletons rise.

Jobeth Williams in Poltergeist, 1982 (Everett)

While they dug a hole behind the actual house for an earlier scene (in which construction workers dig out a pool, they couldn’t exactly wreck a real backyard. Even less feasible: Sucking an entire house into a hellmouth. Instead, the production built a miniature house out of balsa wood and corn flakes, then sucked it up with a vacuum — a sequence they filmed at half-speed, then sped up to highlight their detailed work and the marvelous destruction.

The real house in Simi Valley is still standing today, and is a minor tourist attraction (see below). The current owners allegedly don’t much like the attention. But as Poltergeist shows, curious movies fans aren’t the worst kind of unwanted visitors.

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Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (2006)

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