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How Poltergeist Influenced Marvel’s Werewolf by Night Director

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Exclusive: Marvel’s Werewolf by Night director Michael Giacchino reveals how Poltergeist inspired the Halloween horror Disney+ special.


Though seemingly focused in a different era, Marvel’s Werewolf by Night director Michael Giacchino reveals Poltergeist inspired the Disney+ special. The upcoming special will introduce Jack Russell to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a man afflicted with a curse turning him into the titular beast with human intellect. Jack joins a group of monster hunters to head to the Bloodstone castle to compete for the family’s ancient relic by defeating a terrifying creature, while having to keep his true nature a secret.

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Gael García Bernal leads the cast of Werewolf by Night as Jack alongside Laura Donnelly, Harriet Sansom Harris, Al Hamacher, Eugenie Bondurant, Kirk Thatcher, Daniel J. Watts and Leonardo Nam. Michael Giacchino, better known as a composer in the film and TV industry, is returning to the director’s chair for his biggest project yet, having pitched the idea of a Werewolf by Night adaptation to Marvel Studios, much to Kevin Feige’s surprise. As time draws nearer for its arrival, Giacchino is sharing some insight for how he put Werewolf by Night together, and where he looked for inspiration.

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While speaking exclusively with Screen Rant to discuss the upcoming Disney+ special, Michael Giacchino opened up about bringing horror to the MCU with Werewolf by Night. The new Marvel director recalled how he pushed for more terrifying action in the special, while still keeping its target audience in mind and revealed Poltergeist to be a major influence on the project. See what Giacchino shared below:

I’m not a person that loves slasher movies, I don’t love just randomized killings of people, that is not my thing. But if it’s done in a way that is stylistic, that is sort of fun, and also with the intent of being a fantasy, then I’m all on board. That’s why I love Poltergeist so much, that’s one of my favorite movies in the world, because it’s doing everything we love about horror films, but it’s doing it in a way that has heart humor and character, and that’s really what I wanted to do with this.


Werewolf by Night Looks To Multiple Eras of Horror For Influence

Helmed by The Texas Chainsaw Massacre‘s Tobe Hooper and produced and co-written by Steven Spielberg, Poltergeist is widely considered to be one of the best horror films of both the ’80s, as well as all-time. The movie became infamous for Spielberg and Hooper’s battles with the MPAA over its rating, bringing it down from an R-rating to PG, though between it and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, the PG-13 rating would ultimately be born. Giacchino looking to Poltergeist for inspiration on Marvel’s Werewolf by Night for its tone and emotional stakes is sure to help build some anticipation for its upcoming release.

Given the first Werewolf by Night trailer revealed a black-and-white project in a similar vein to Universal’s classic monster movies, Poltergeist being a major point of inspiration for the MCU special is sure to come as somewhat of a surprise to those familiar with the horror classic. However, with early Werewolf by Night reactions largely praising it as one of the best MCU Disney+ projects yet, this range of horror influences seems to be working in its favor. Only time will tell if audiences agree when Werewolf by Night premieres on October 7.

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