Monster of the Day #203

I haven’t seen this movie since it was in theaters, and remain highly frustrated by the ending. It’s the sort of thing where they say, “Sure, this violates EVERYTHING we’ve been explaining up to now, but it’s cool, so nobody will care.” And they were 95% right, worse to say. Most people didn’t care. (Thus the difference between being a film nerd and being a member of the general public.)

Even so, despite that climax pretty near ruining the movie for me, I can’t say the film doesn’t offer up two or three really, really good scares.

  • P Stroud

    Yes, a terrible fate for a poor clown to be menaced by the worst most disgusting horror in moviedom… the child actor.

  • BeckoningChasm

    Yeah, I haven’t seen it since it was in theatres either. James Karen was in it, that’s always a plus.

  • The Rev.

    I never saw it in theaters, but I did see it on TV as a kid. That clown doll scared the living shit out of me, and that was before it started attacking the kid.

    TCM played this last year, I think in October during their month-long horrorfest. It’d been a long time since I’d seen it (probably high school, if not earlier). I still enjoyed it, and the doll didn’t scare me, but it still creeps me out a bit.

    What about the ending did you hate, Ken? When I first saw it I was too young to care; I’m curious if my thoughts from last year’s viewing are similar to yours.

  • roger h

    So there was something wrong with the ending. I saw it during the TCM showing and assumed I missed something but, I did not really want to watch it again. What happened?

    I found the little southern lady annoying.

  • BeckoningChasm

    Rev: I’m with you on the clown doll. First time I saw it I thought, “What kind of kid has a toy like that?” It looked more like a distant relative’s punishment than something a kid would enjoy having in his room.

  • Rock Baker

    I’d have to see it again. It’s been some years for me, but I thought it was a yawner at the time.

  • Well, the entire “Indian graveyard” climax is completely just tacked on there. This after the film spends all this time explaining the whole “ghosts stuck in the limbo tunnel” thing. Really, it should have ended after they retrieved the little girl. I remember getting uneasy when it didn’t, and wondering why the movie kept going. Then the mom suddenly started sliding up the wall…

    Again, it was clearly because they wanted a huge climax–and really, most people DIDN’T care that the ending violated the entire premise of the movie. So, really, what am I going to tell them? Doesn’t make me a fan, though.

  • roger h

    OK, thanks Ken, that is the impression I got.

    I recall the Indian graveyard from seeing the film years ago so, when I saw it again recently I was surprised about what the paranormal investigators and the little woman were saying and doing. Were they just wrong? partially correct? Whatever. Like I said, I felt I missed something.

    Would have been easy to say that the earlier troubled spirit(s) was holding a cap on the other more belligerent spirits. When it was released all heck broke out.

  • Anything would have helped. It’s like they were shooting when somebody decided they needed a bigger ending, and they just wrote it up on the spot, and didn’t want to reshoot any of the earlier stuff to introduce a notion like that you suggest. Again, I’m sure I’m one of the 1% of viewers who were annoyed by this, but I was, and still am, really.

  • Rock Baker

    Still not quite as irritating as the ending of A Nightmare on Elm Street, though. You’ve mentioned before how much that little number irked you!

  • fish eye no miko

    It’s been ages since I’ve since this; would someone care to clarify the “Sure, this violates EVERYTHING we’ve been explaining up to now” thing? Thanks.

  • Grumpy

    Knowing how Spielberg ran roughshod over Hooper, a frustrating ending is to be expected. That’s Spielberg’s trademark, is it not?

  • I saw this in the theater with my parents and sister when I was finishing up my tour in the U.S. Army. It was just “okay”. Nothing like the groundbreakers “Jaws” and “The Exorcist”. The clown was just a bit creepy (as horror movie dolls tend to be). But nothing like the “The Doll” in Night Gallery or the Zuni fetish in “Trilogy of Terror”. Now THOSE were some creepy dolls…

  • BeckoningChasm

    It’s kind of odd, now that I think about it, that I have never had the urge to see this twice. It’s not that I have bad memories of it, just that the thought would never occur to me. Even when I was in a “Oh come on, there must be SOMETHING I want to buy.”

    Speaking of buying things, “Birdemic: Shock and Terror” has landed on Blu-Ray.

  • Toby C

    First of all, I’d like to point out that it explicitly wasn’t an Indian graveyard.

    Secondly, I’d have to agree with El Santo’s analysis from 1000misspenthours:

    “What I appreciate most about it is that the nature of the Freelings’ paranormal persecution is never conclusively explained. Several characters have their pet theories— Tangina Barrons has her stereotypical New Age mysticism, Dr. Lesh talks about resentful souls who quite simply refuse to accept their own deaths, Steven eventually concludes that the attacks have something to do with the tenants of the cemetery that once stood on the land that became Cuesta Verde— but all of these hypotheses have troubling blind spots, and are unable to account for at least one major aspect of the haunting. That reticence on the filmmakers’ parts permits Poltergeist to play as broad a field of supernatural manifestations as possible without suffering from the sort of logical inconsistencies that helped scupper The Amityville Horror. After all, you can’t really complain about a story not following its own rules when it refuses to give you a solid basis for determining what those rules might be in the first place!”

  • Toby — El Santo is certainly entitled to his opinion, but again, the ending has NOTHING to do with the limbo tunnel stuff we saw throughout the movie. If I felt, like he does, that the film was pushing ambiguity, I would have less of a problem with it. That’s not my read of it. Where he sees the film not making sense on purpose, I see the film not making sense because, you know, it’s only a horror movie and who cares?