starring Steve Railsback, Peter Firth, Frank Finlay, Mathilda May
screenplay by Dan O'Bannon & Don Jakoby, based on the novel The Space Vampires by Colin Wilson
directed by Tobe Hooper
by Bryant Frazer The early 1980s must have been a weird time to be Tobe Hooper. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre had made him one of the most notorious directors in the world, and Poltergeist vaulted him onto the A-list. He would have been on top of the world if not for an extended controversy over that film: Poltergeist was produced by Steven Spielberg, and there were widespread rumours that he actually directed it, too. Hooper denied it and Spielberg issued oddly-worded statements that permanently muddied the waters. Whatever the truth of their collaboration, the controversy was a blow to Hooper's reputation. His Texas Chain Saw felt almost like outsider art--raw and twisted, it was the antithesis of the burnished Spielberg style. Poltergeist, on the other hand, was the very quintessence of a Steven Spielberg film, from its familiar suburban family in distress to its richly-detailed mise en scène. If Hooper really did direct it, it doesn't say much for his authorial voice that he left virtually no discernible fingerprints on the final product.