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Cool Horror Videos: Who directed Poltergeist? The debate rages on

02.03.2017by: Mike Sprague

Okay, this behind-the-scenes video was posted on a few fellow horror sites today, claiming to "finally answer" the debate over who ACTUALLY directed POLTERGEIST, credited director Tobe Hooper, or credited writer/producer Steven Spielberg.

Well, leave it to me to keep the debate going as this video doesn't, in my eyes, confirm Spielberg as the director of POLTERGEIST. Sorry. Guess we'll have to keep debating, guys. I personally feel the debate was resolved years ago (one week after the film was originally released in 1982, actually) by Steven Spielberg himself when he printed this letter to Tobe Hooper in The Hollywood Reporter:

Regrettably, some of the press has misunderstood the rather unique, creative relationship which you and I shared throughout the making of Poltergeist.

I enjoyed your openness in allowing me... a wide berth for creative involvement, just as I know you were happy with the freedom you had to direct Poltergeist so wonderfully.

Through the screenplay you accepted a vision of this very intense movie from the start, and as the director, you delivered the goods. You performed responsibly and professionally throughout, and I wish you great success on your next project.

The Directors Guild of America even "opened an investigation into the question of whether or not Hooper's official credit was being denigrated by statements Spielberg has made, apparently claiming authorship", and after their investigation, Tobe Hooper remains the credited director of the film.

Hurm...

Now you might say, "but look at Steven directing throughout the video; that's proof." Not really. He's Steven Spielberg. If he's on-set, the camera is going to following him around. That's just the way it is. 

Also, he looks to be directing the film's 2nd unit. We do not see him conferring with the cast, or primary crew. He is directing visual effects and action sequences. These are the 2nd unit director's areas of interest. By the way, yes, I read Zelda Rubinstein's interview with us from a few years ago.

Now we can (continue) to debate this as horror fans forever, but I feel the truth is Spielberg was the "creative force" behind POLTERGEIST, and Hooper was the director. But aren't they one and the same? I guess, if anything, this debate proves that sometimes, they can be two different things.

Check out the video below, and don't forget to chime in with your thoughts on the debate.

Extra Tidbit: Boy, I get worked up over this debate.

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