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Cursed Films S01e02 Poltergeist Main

Cursed Films - Season 1, Episode 3: Poltergeist TV Episode Review

Written by Stuart D. Monroe

Premiered on Shudder

cursed films s01 poster large

Written and directed by Jay Cheel
2020, 26 minutes, Not Rated
Premiered on Shudder on April 9th, 2020

Gary Sherman as Himself
Craig Reardon as Himself
Phil Nobile Jr. as Himself
April Wolfe as Herself
Sean Clark as Himself

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It’s one thing to make an effective horror film. It’s another thing to make a horror film that’s so unsettling and genuinely scary that it spawns a trilogy (plus a semi-related TV show). It’s astounding, however, to do all that with a movie that’s rated merely PG! That’s impressive even without all the tragedy that followed.

Episode Two takes us inside one of horror’s most revered (and most effective) franchises ever: the Poltergeist series. It’s not the first time that it’s been documentarized; the most famous is the E! True Hollywood Story: The Curse of Poltergeist. While Jay Cheel (How to Build a Time Machine) does cover some things we’ve all seen before, Cursed Films excels in taking the time look closer at the third film in the series, Poltergeist III.

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And that’s not a bad thing. The rumors are legend (real skeletons in the pool scene, all the cast member deaths), and frankly it’s all been covered before. After speaking with names in genre journalism in recap fashion, such as Phil Nobile and April Wolfe, we get down to the meat and potatoes of the whole thing. The best insight comes from Poltergeist III director Gary Sherman and the SFX artist of the original Poltergeist, Craig Reardon (Child’s Play 3, Twilight Zone: The Movie).

Listening to Gary Sherman talk about the tragically young death of Heather O’ Rourke from an undiagnosed bowel obstruction is genuinely emotional stuff. He bristles at the notion of a curse and how it cheapens the memory of both Heather and slain actress Dominique Dunne, and his conviction will affect you. His stories are fondly told and remind you that behind the mesmerizing confluence of events that create the idea of a curse are real people who meant a great deal to many others. It’s sobering and fascinating.

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It’s a packed 26 minutes that also contains THE answer to the skeleton question (with a bonus hard truth) and visits to the house used for exteriors in the original. An interview with a passionate Zelda Rubinstein is unearthed. A horror superfan name Sean Clark shows off some of his collection, including a piece that I would seriously rob his home for that you have to see to believe. Then, there’s the story of Julian Beck a.k.a. Reverend Kane…that’s enough to make you believe that maybe, just maybe, there is something to this curse. It’s an anecdote with some genuine creep factor. I can hear him singing now… “God is in…His holy temple!”

Cursed Films: Poltergeist may (unavoidably) deliver some info you’ve seen before, but it more than delivers on the goods as a whole by examining the oeuvre of Poltergeist as opposed to a single film and giving it to us from those who made it. It’s a complex and utterly human tale that will ultimately leave it up to you to decide and a good omen for a series that looks, at least early on, to be one that has a great deal to offer us while we’re all locked inside from the big, infected world.

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Episode: 3.5 Star Rating Cover
Buy from Amazon US

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About The Author
Stuart D. Monroe
Staff Reviewer - USA
Stuart D. Monroe is a man of many faces – father, husband, movie reviewer, published author of short horror, unsuccessful screenwriter (for now), rabid Clemson Tiger, Southern gentleman, and one hell of a model American who goes by the handle "Big Daddy Stu" or "Sir". He's also highly disturbed and wears that fact like a badge of honor. He is a lover of all things horror with a particular taste for the fare of the Italians and the British. He sometimes gets aroused watching the hardcore stuff, but doesn't bother worrying about whether he was a serial killer in a past life as worrying is for the weak. He was raised in the video stores of the '80s and '90s. The movie theater is his cathedral. He worships H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Clive Barker. When he writes, he listens obsessively to either classical music or the works of Goblin to stimulate the neural pathways. His favorite movie is Dawn of the Dead. His favorite book is IT. His favorite TV show is LOST.
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