Saturday, September 19, 2009

The daughters from Poltergeist

Dominique's story was so pointlessly tragic- to be strangled to death by an ex- boyfriend. I took a couple of seconds to breathe in while I stood on her grave to think about that. I thought especially about her brother, Griffin Dunne, and how often he might think of her to this day. She's in the ground within a few yards of Natalie Wood, who was a friend of the family. Her father, author and journalist Dominick Dunne, just passed away a few weeks ago.

It saddened me to find that Heather's angel had either fallen off her crypt or was stolen. Her vault faces west and the sun hits that wall like a solar panel, so perhaps whatever once adhered it to the concrete melted off. Despite all the other graves we saw that day, I was only disappointed I had no flowers to leave on this one.

Truman Capote is interred in a vault caddy-corner to Heather. In the ground close by is Don Knotts. I'd like to imagine them as being lively, boisterous uncles to her in the afterlife.

Unlike most of the graves I take pictures of just because they're old or look "cool" or whatever, these two actually mean something to me.

was really my first "scary" movie. It was a big deal with my friend Jessica and I. Granted, we had watched most of Halloween with her older sister Jennie but it wasn't nearly as engaging for us because it didn't have a little girl our age to identify with- that's what makes Poltergeist the sentimental winner. Both our families had Showtime back in the Dark Ages when it took at least a year for theatrical releases to come to cable, and when they did, they would be played over and over again for one month. However, Jessica's parents bought something magical that year- a VCR! Her brother and sister taped it and Jessica and I watched it repeatedly the summer we turned eight, in-between swimming in her swimming pool and being tormented by Jennie.

[It was always Jennie; she was mean. She made us drink Jacuzzi water and took sick pleasure in making Jessica cry while French braiding her hair. We once made two copies of a newspaper called "The I Hate Jennie News" with smelly markers on construction paper which we threw rolled up in the driveways of two unsuspecting neighbors. (It was too much work to hand write a third copy, or to continue the publication for that matter.) On the other hand, her brother Jeff did come at us with a butcher knife once- Jessica giggled during the entire "attack" as he ran around the room, pretending to be diabolically angry, slamming into the walls, just "missing" us. Not having siblings myself, I wasn't sure what the hell was going on or
if I should be scared of the sharp shiny thing even as he ran about in jest. I tried to slip out into the hallway which made him come after me, so I ran and hid in one of their bedrooms until they said I could come out. Hey! I was eight years old at the time. Cut me some slack!]

I didn't learn what happened to Dominque Dunne until Heather O'Rourke died, probably because I was too young at the time. I do remember her absence in the second one but thought nothing of it, mostly because the second
Poltergeist movie was pretty lame in comparison to the first. (Even as a child I had some standards for cinematic quality. I mean, Poltergeist 2 was no Annie, after all, and couldn't light a candle to E.T.) When Heather died, though, it hit me hard: I was 12 and she was my age. That's when it dawned on me that even kids could...just...die.

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