“They're ba-ack.” A TV series version of Poltergeist is under development at Amazon MGM Studios. The 1982 horror classic directed by Tobe Hooper from a story by Steven Spielberg stars Craig T. Nelson as Steve Freeling, JoBeth Williams as Diane Freeling, Beatrice Straight as Dr. Martha Lesh, Dominique Dunne as Dana Freeling, Oliver Robins as Robbie Freeling, Heather O'Rourke as Carol Anne Freeling, and Zelda Rubinstein as Tangina Barrons.
Variety, which reported the exclusive, says that no writer is currently attached to Poltergeist TV series. Variety reports, “Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey will executive produce on behalf of Amblin Television. Amblin produced the original 1982 film, with Steven Spielberg having come up with the story, cowriting the screenplay, and producing it. There are no plot details to share at this time, beyond the fact the show will be set within the world of the film.”
The Original Poltergeist Is Considered One of the Scariest Movies of All Time and Spawned a Franchise
Upon its release in 1982, Poltergeist became an immediate commercial and critical success. The movie follows the Freeling family, who discovers that their house was built over a cemetery where only the tombstones were moved… not the bodies. This makes their SoCal home a hotbed for poltergeist activity, resulting in the youngest Freeling, Carol Anne, ending up trapped in the spirit dimension. The Freelings get help in the form of the medium Tangina, who schools the Freelings on the rules of the other side and helps them get their daughter back to this world.
Variety reports that Poltergeist had a budget of $10.7 million and grossed $121 million worldwide. The movie was nominated for three Academy Awards, got excellent reviews, and is listed as one of cinema's scariest films by the Chicago Film Critics Association, Bravo, and the American Film Institute, to name a few.
Poltergeist‘s success spawned a franchise, which continues to this day with the announcement of a TV series. Poltergeist II: The Other Side arrived in 1986 with many returning cast members and introduced the terrifying Reverend Henry Kane, played by Julian Beck. The spooky shenanigans followed young Carol Anne to Chicago in 1988's Poltergeist III, during the production of which O'Rourke died suddenly at the age of 12. Her tragic death put the franchise on ice until the 2015 Poltergeist remake, directed by Gil Kenan and starring Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt, Saxon Sharbino, Kyle Catlett, Kennedi Clements, Jared Harris, and Jane Adams. Despite the solid cast, the remake and its iffy CG effects didn't come close to capturing the magic of the 1982 original and was quickly forgotten.
Here's hoping that the makers of the upcoming Poltergeist TV series look to the original for inspiration, and maybe even consider giving surviving cast members such as Williams and Nelson a call.