Continuing with our horror movie theme (a week after Halloween - so sue me), I offer this comparison between two "classics" of the genre, Tobe Hooper's Poltergeist (1982) and Wes Craven's A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984). One is a haunted house movie in which a middle-class American family find themselves under attack from a malevolent spirit. The other is an atypical slasher flick in which a group of all-American teenagers fall victim to a razor-fingered psychopath who kills them in their sleep. Couldn't be more different, right? Yet they share a single scene on common - in which a character is dragged across the walls and ceiling of her bedroom by an unseen demonic force:
A Nightmare On Elm Street
It's a simple trick, accomplished by mounting a rotating set on a stationary camera while the actress flailed around inside. Apparently, though, Craven took one look at the scene from Poltergeist and thought, "Well, that's plenty scary and all, but what it needs is more blood. Lots and lots of blood." And so it wasn't enough that poor Tina Grey had to be tossed around the room by Freddy Krueger, she had to be cut to ribbons by him as well.
Of course, Craven and Hooper weren't the first filmmakers to use the rotating-set-on-a-stationary-camera gag, and they wouldn't be the last. (Isn't it odd, though, to find similar scenes from two separate horror movies released only two years apart?) Stanley Donen tried the same trick with Fred Astaire for 1951's Royal Wedding:
The great Stanley Kubrick also used it to mimic the weightlessness of space for 2001: A Space Odyssey (1969):
Most recently, Christopher Nolan employed similar business for this spectacular scene from Inception (2010):
Impressive, yes? And with significantly less blood!
Thoughts? Questions? Concerns? Please chime in below! And don't forget to check out our first in a series of Movie Coincidences by clicking here.