From the celluloid capture of killings in Peeping Tom to the murderous video tape in the Ring/Ringu series to the video recording of mad ghosts in Paranormal Activity, the usage of technology as medium has been a powerful device in horror films. Our midnight movie this weekend, Poltergeist, is a significant example of this tradition where not only does the camera lens act as mediation to another world but the technological object of the television functions as portal.
We’ve included this recent lecture by Professor Eugene Thacker because he traces this history of “dark media” as told through the evolution of the camera – where the mediation point between two points in a single reality shifts into a mediation between two realities. In particular he talks about one scene in Poltergeist (starts at 14:20) where the ghost hunters inside the Freeling’s house record spirits descending the staircase. Despite bearing eye witness to such an event, their immediate action to re-watch the tapes, to prove what it is that they saw was “real” provides an interesting weight to our reliance on media. This scene is included here: