Pee-wee and Poltergeist

Pee-wee's Big Adventure
and Poltergeist
a kate west reflection

The 1980's were the cinematic frivolous response to the heavy hitting 70's power movies. And my generation loved them. In particular, my brother and I loved "Pee-wee's Big Adventure" and "Poltergeist". To this date, we can pretty much quote every line. To view them again as an adult is to trip down nostalgia lane and find that they still stand the test of time.

Tim Burton is now an established Gothic director and his "Pee-wee" film is as far away from that style as you can get, but still holds fascination. It is a well-made version of the manic Pee-wee world, created from the "Pee'wee's Playhouse" television show and as a character from the reputable Groundlings Theatre main show.

Basically, Pee-wee is a child in a grownup's body, living in a world as a child might see it, with scary bad people trying to steal his bicycle, the one possession he holds most dear. The colorful universe he exists in delights the viewer and all those quotable lines ("I know you are, but what am I?" "I love that story!" "I like you Dottie, LIKE!") are embedded in our collective consciousness forever, for better or for worse. Objectively, it's a fine cinematic achievement and kudos to Burton for capturing that voice so well.

The late beloved Phil Hartman (also of the Groundlings, as well as Saturday Night Live) has a fun little cameo, as do many other notable celebs. That fact that the entire storyline revolves around Pee-wee's adventures in searching for his bike is yet another indication of the brilliant simplicity of the film. Plus it's just plain great fun.

Tobe Hooper supposedly directed the modern ghost classic "Poltergeist" but we all know that Producer Steven Spielberg had a heavy hand in it's execution as evidenced by many a suspenseful scene. The quintessential closeup of horror-stricken faces and the old-fashioned special effects may seem dated but again, are so powerfully engrained in our memories that we love them anyway.

The Freeling household needs to be purged of poltergeists when daughter Carol Anne (the late Heather O'Rourke) is missing. Apparently, she's still in the house, just in another dimension. Aided by supernatural experts, played by Zelda Rubinstein and the late Beatrice Straight, frantic mother Diane (JoBeth Williams) is finally able to get her baby back, after battling many dead things. It may seem tame by today's standards, but back then it was pretty scary stuff, especially little brother Robbie's (Oliver Robins) fight with a demented clown doll (shiver!)

Just be wary of those eerie words, "They're here!"

Directed by:

Tim Burton

Writing Credits:
Phil Hartman
Paul Reubens
Michael Varhol

Paul Reubens ... Pee-wee Herman
Elizabeth Daily ... Dottie
Mark Holton ... Francis
Diane Salinger ... Simone
Judd Omen ... Mickey
Irving Hellman ... Mr. Crowtray
Monte Landis ... Mario
Damon Martin ... Chip
David Glasser ... BMX Kid
Gregory Brown ... BMX Kid
Mark Everett ... BMX Kid
Daryl Keith Roach ... Chuck (as Daryl Roach)
Bill Cable ... Policeman #1
Peter Looney ... Policeman #2
Starletta DuPois ... Sgt. Hunter
Professor Toru Tanaka ... Butler
Ed Herlihy ... Mr. Buxton
Ralph Seymour ... Francis' Accomplice
Lou Cutell ... Amazing Larry
Raymond Martino ... Gang Member
Erica Yohn ... Madam Ruby
Bill W. Richmond ... Highway Patrolman
Alice Nunn ... Large Marge
Ed Griffith ... Trucker
Simmy Bow ... Man in Diner
Jon Harris ... Andy
Carmen Filpi ... Hobo Jack
Jan Hooks ... Tina
John Moody ... Bus Clerk
John O'Neill ... Cowboy #1
Alex Sharp ... Cowboy #2
Chester Grimes ... Biker #1
Luis Contreras ... Biker #2
Lonnie Parkinson ... Biker #3
Howard Hirdler ... Biker #4
Cassandra Peterson ... Biker Mama
Jason Hervey ... Kevin Morton
Bob McClurg ... Studio Guard
John Paragon ... Movie Lot Actor
Susan Barnes ... Movie Lot Actress
Zachary Hoffman ... Director
Lynne Marie Stewart ... Mother Superior
George Sasaki ... Japanese Director
Richard Brose ... Tarzan
Drew Seward ... Kid #1
Brett Fellman ... Kid #2
Bob Drew ... Fireman
John Gilgreen ... Policeman at Pet Shop
Noreen Hennessey ... Reporter (as Noreen Hennessy)
Phil Hartman ... Reporter
Michael Varhol ... Photographer
David Rothenberg ... Hobo
Patrick Cranshaw ... Hobo (as Pat Cranshaw)
Sunshine Parker ... Hobo
Gilles Savard ... Pierre
James Brolin ... Himself - as 'PeeWee'
Morgan Fairchild ... Herself - as 'Dottie'
Tony Bill ... Terry Hawthorne
Dee Snider ... Twisted Sister / Dee Snider (as Twisted Sister)
Milton Berle ... Himself (uncredited)

Poltergeist Cast

Watch It:
Pee-wee's Big Adventure (Widescreen)

My Other Obsession:
Poltergeist (25th Anniversary Edition)

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