Written by Patti Pauley
There are many villains in the horror world of cinema that have the capacity to actually give you the uncomfortable skeevies. While it differs from one horror fan to another, the nefarious Reverend Kane from the Poltergeist sequel tops all others with his 1000% creep factor and his 8,000 teeth. Well, when I first laid my eyes on him on the silver screen as wee one, it sure as hell seemed like he had an abundance of extra chompers with that monstrous, wicked smile.
Julian Beck’s final, and most well-known performance as the vile Henry Kane was chilling to the bone; and etched the man as a legend in the horror genre as one of the scariest movie villains of all time. While Poltergeist 2 does indeed have a few flaws, this man’s acting abilities make us easily look over the questionable details of the film; Such as the unexplained absence of Dana Freeling. Although, we all know the true story behind that tragic circumstance. At the time of filming the sequel to Tobe Hooper’s wonderful thriller, Beck was suffering from pancreatic cancer; which he used to immerse himself into the character of the
good Reverend. No make-up was needed, and he used the pain from his illness to help bring the role to another level. He eventually succumbed to the disease in 1985, prior to the films release.
What was so interesting about the role of Kane, besides the brilliant performance from Beck, was his back story. Which, according to the official Poltergeist site, was thrown around as an idea for a Poltergeist prequel of sorts exploring the background of Henry Kane and his Jones Town like cult. Industry insider Macklin Crux, had heard the idea of a script for a stand-alone Henry Kane film in the early 90’s that would ultimately tie him to the Freeling family and his obsession with them.
The story per the website, and Macklin was that Kane was originally a healer of sorts. A sort of Exorcist preacher type, he was at one point, a very good-looking man who had fallen like Lucifer from Heaven and set out to California to “rid himself of demons”. Gathering followers along the way, ancestors of the Freeling family were among those members. The Freelings’ of the past would have ended up escaping Kane’s clutches with the help of an Indian medicine man (sound familiar?!) and ultimately were the surviving members of the cult of Kane. Another idea that was thrown into the mix connecting Kane to the Freelings’, was making Kane Carol Anne’s great-great grandfather. It’s unclear if this was to be incorporated into the initial idea or, was a different thing all together. Either way, that would have been stretching it a tad. These rumors of a Kane prequel were not only heard by Macklin, but by Heather O’Rourke’s step-father Jim Peele. Giving it some type of authenticity into something that could have been.
Given the fact that Julian Beck is long gone, rest his soul, and this idea never came to fruition (at least not yet anyway), it’s almost seems as if it were for the best. Looking at Poltergeist 3, it’s pretty clear that the role of Henry Kane belongs to Beck. The creep factor was definitely absent from the third installment, proving that not just any older fellow can throw on a preacher’s hat and dub himself the evil minister of the underworld. It would absolutely pose a challenge, even for a younger version of the reverend, to fill those kinds of shoes. Which could be a good reason why this film never happened. Or hey, it still could. Never say never. Hollywood seems to have a huge set of balls these days making sister films, remakes, and reboots to beloved horror movies. However, if they could get the right actor, I’m totally on board with this idea.
All that said, I’m just going to leave this right here. Enjoy your Sunday sermon.