The question of who actually directed “Poltergeist” has been haunting curious viewers for as long as the movie itself. Tobe Hooper is officially listed as having done so, though it’s long been suspected that co-writer and -producer Steven Spielberg was the true helmer; due to a clause in his “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” contract, however, Spielberg wasn’t technically allowed to direct anything else while preparing his kid-friendly classic.
In an appearance on Blumhouse’s podcast ‘Shock Waves,’ the film’s assistant cameraman more or less confirms that Spielberg was the actual director.
“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,” says John Leonetti, whose brother Matt was the film’s cinematographer. Leonetti, who directed “Annabelle” as well as the upcoming “Wish Upon,” spares several kind words for Hooper nevertheless.
“However, Tobe Hooper – I adore. I love that man so much,” he says of the genre auteur responsible for the likes of “Lifeforce” and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” Here he elaborates further:
“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.”
That sounds fairly definitive. Listen to the full podcast here.