Unmade Poltergeist Prequel Would Have Featured Reverend Kane

Poltergeist 2’s apocalyptic preacher wouldn’t have stayed underground if screenwriters let him go west.

Please! Open your hearts and your minds to what I am saying. Reverend Henry Kane, who awoke the beast in Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986) is dangerous and could have been unleashed onto the world if actor Julian Beck hadn’t succumbed to stomach cancer.

In Poltergeist II, directed by Brian Gibson, Reverend Kane was a doomsday cult leader in the early 19th century who promised to save his followers from the end of the world by hiding them in an underground cavern below what later be the Freeling familys’ property. But Kane was really feeding them the Kool-Aid of repentance who wanted to soak up their souls in order to develop supernatural powers. According to an interview Poltergeist 3: The Website, Kane was on his way to achieving the iconic horror status of Freddy Krueger or Mike Meyers  by becoming the beast.

“I was at Universal in the early ’90s and I heard about Poltergeist 4,” industry insider Macklin Crux told  Poltergeist 3: The Website. “Someone told me about a new script that was being developed about the pre-story: Kane and his followers. Kane was a healer (like an exorcist), a good-looking man who was a preacher who had fallen and was going to go to California to rid himself of the ‘demons.’”

Crux heard that the backstory prequel would have been “‘a psychological thriller with less effects’” that would fill in the preacher’s connection to Carol Anne.

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“The development would make some sort of connection to the Freeling family of the future,” Crux said in the interview. “Carol Anne was the great-great granddaughter or something equally ridiculous. I don’t remember if someone suggested it or if it was part of the original story but the ‘Freeling Family’ of the past escaped Kane at the end and were the only survivors. They were protected by an Indian medicine man.”

Crux said the idea didn’t die with Beck, who also played Dutch Schultz’s creepy gang enforcer with a soft spot for rats, Sol Weinstein, in Francis Ford Coppola’s gangster classic The Cotton Club.

“Sound Familiar? It should,” Crux said. “This was originally part of the original Poltergeist property and elements (Kane, Indian medicine man, Family Clairvoyance, etc.) were incorporated into Poltergeist 2.”

The idea never got past the “West lot,” though. Although there were whisperings, no screenplay was ever submitted.

Julian Beck was an Abstract Expressionist painter who founded  New York City’s Living Theatre, the oldest experimental theatre group in the United States, in 1947, and co-directed it until his death.


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