Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt and Kennedi Clements in Poltergeist.

In the original Poltergeist, a dude eating a drumstick tore off his face while looking in a mirror, and threw chunks of his bloody flesh in a sink. Somehow, that movie managed to get a PG rating.

In this remake, Sam Rockwell cries, and that somehow leads to a PG-13 rating. I love Sam Rockwell, but it’s hard to watch him work up tears for this crap. Actually, this movie is hard to watch from start to finish, even if you haven’t seen the original.

In 1982, director Tobe Hooper (teaming with writer-producer Steven Spielberg) made a horrific treat spiked with humor. This paltry remake from director Gil Kenan has none of the spark of the original, and is merely a routine haunting movie with cheap “scares” involving clown dolls (that don’t actually scare) and kid actors who fail to register. (I won’t single them out, because they are kids … but they do suck.) Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt squirm through the roles originated by Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams.

There was no good reason for this undertaking. The movie shouldn’t have been remade. If somebody tries to remake Jaws, I will be truly pissed off. Leave the Spielberg properties alone!

Poltergeist is playing at theaters across the valley.