‘Poltergeist’ Truther Movement Continues With New Claim That Steven Spielberg Actually Directed It
In what has now become something of a bi-annual tradition in Hollywood, yet another person has come forward with yet another claim that Steven Spielberg was the real director of Poltergeist. This time around it’s John Leonetti, the filmmaker behind the new horror film Wish Upon, who outs himself as a Poltergeist truther with his not-entirely-shocking assertion about who actually directed Tobe Hooper’s spooky 1982 classic.
It’s a tale as old as, well, Poltergeist itself, and although the telling occasionally varies, the essence of the story remains the same: Poltergeist was not actually directed by Tobe Hooper, but by the film’s producer and co-writer, Steven Spielberg. Leonetti supports this theory in a new interview with Blumhouse (via The Playlist), in which the Wish Upon director recounts visiting the set of the 1984 horror film, for which his brother, Matthew Leonetti, served as director of photography:
The really cool thing about ‘Poltergeist’ — I’ll never forget the very first time I walked on the shooting set, there were 4 x 8 foam core boards with 8 ½ by 11 storyboards on them, and I’d never seen anything like that before. It was a very intense, very fun, very technical movie to work on. There’s a lot going on. And candidly… Steven Spielberg directed that movie. There’s no question.
Leonetti goes on to offer a reasonable explanation for how this happened. Although he begins by sort of describing Hooper in a way that makes The Texas Chain Saw Massacre director sound like a charity case, Leonetti quickly course-corrects:
Hooper was so nice and just happy to be there. He creatively had input. Steven developed the movie, and it was his to direct, except there was anticipation of a director’s strike, so he was ‘the producer’ but really he directed it in case there was going to be a strike and Tobe was cool with that. It wasn’t anything against Tobe. Every once in a while, he would actually leave the set and let Tobe do a few things just because. But really, Steven directed it.
As The Playlist points out, back in the day, Spielberg himself implied that he did a lot more than just produce and co-write the film:
Tobe isn’t… a take-charge sort of guy. If a question was asked and an answer wasn’t immediately forthcoming, I’d jump in and say what we could do. Tobe would nod agreement, and that became the process of collaboration.
Although the iconic director later downplayed his comments, the “Spielberg actually directed Poltergeist” story continues to pop up every couple of years like an eccentric relative whose sporadic appearance at family functions is vaguely noteworthy if only because you remember they exist.