CineSavant Column

Tuesday June 19, 2018


I found an article with input from CineSavant friend and advisor Craig Reardon over at the BloodyGoodHorror page, a quick interview with the site’s ‘Colin.’ This one struck me because it always seemed ugly the horror movie publicists exploited real tragedy. Way back on Rosemary’s Baby the press was quick to connect Roman Polanski with the Tate/LaBianca killings, under the assumption that Polanski was a satanist, etc. You expect this from tabloid trash, but five years later I heard a Warners publicist taking credit for similar nonsense on The Exorcist. The publicist came to the National Theater in Westwood for months, running poster and trailer ideas past the theater’s manager. One idea was to get ‘true’ ballyhoo ideas into the press. When covering the film’s long ticket lines, the TV news even showed my manager/boss on camera, peeking through a theater door and saying, “Gee, maybe there really is a Devil in there.” Then, early in the movie’s record-breaking run, newspaper articles appeared suggesting that actor Jack MacGowran, who plays a movie director in Exorcist, died as the result of an evil connection with William Friedkin’s movie. A famous Irish actor who should have been properly eulogized, was instead used as a prop in a cheap promotional gimmick.

Later on, I asked Steven Spielberg if the sudden rash of shark attacks around the time of the release of Jaws were legit, and didn’t get a good answer. they probably were. The near-explosion of flying saucer sightings that coincided with the opening of Close Encounters made me think that maybe publicists weren’t involved, that the public was sufficiently crazy about upcoming movies to generate their own saucer hysteria. Then again, President Carter owed up to having seen a flying saucer as well, with what seemed perfect timing to promote the movie.

Just by using the name ‘the Poltergeist curse’ in its title, the BGH article perpetuates the myth, mixing movies with reality and fact with fiction. With all of our information sources turning into Reality Programming it’s no wonder that we don’t know what to believe. The article: BGH Investigates the Poltergeist Curse with Craig Reardon.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson