The Eric Roberts Collection: Joker’s Poltergeist (dir by Christopher S. Lind)

In 2020’s Joker’s Poltergeist (also known as Joker’s Wild), Eric Roberts plays James Jennings.  Jennings was a part-owner of the Palace Theater Chain until his partner, Rand Place (Martin Kove), forced him out and gave the business to his daughter, Aurora Place (Lacie Marie Meyer).  After apparently filming himself discussing how he is going to be starting a movement and how no one is ever going to forget him, James dresses up like a clown, goes down to the theater, and guns down the audience of a film called Joker’s Wild.  He also kills Rand before being shot himself by another theatergoer, William Remmington (Ari Boyland).

Clips of James’s final message are shown throughout Joker’s Poltergeist but we never actually see Roberts interacting with the rest of the cast.  (When James starts shooting people at the theater, he does so under a mask that he never removes and the end credits indicate that an actor other than Roberts played James in those scenes.)  This is obviously one of those films where Roberts filmed his scenes over the course of an hour or two, probably in his own office.  He certainly wasn’t on the set.  The same can be said of Martin Kove, who only appears as a part of a video message that Rand taped for Aurora before the shooting.  For that matter, Dustin Diamond appears for a few brief seconds and again, only as a part of a filmed message that Aurora watches.

Instead, the majority of the film takes place a year after the shooting.  Aurora is fighting to not only re-open her theater but to also keep concealed carry legal in her state.  She is now dating William and is a part of a support group made up of other survivors of the massacre.  From the moment Aurora reenters the old theater, she starts to have strange visions of killer clowns, demonic doctors, and sleazy politicians.  “You shouldn’t like guns….” the evil doctors chant at her.  At one point, she and her friends are trapped in the theater and being taunted by the spirits of the dead and, at another point, Aurora is suddenly in a hospital and being menaced by killer nurses.  Aurora struggles to figure out what is real and what is a dream, with the film suggesting that theater itself has become a separate dimension that is populated by James’s victims.  At its best, the film plays out like an unsettling nightmare, the type that doesn’t necessarily cause you to wake up screaming but which still remains fresh in your mind throughout the day.

On the one hand, the film is obviously based on the 2012 Dark Knight Rises shooting that it feels more than a little distasteful.  On the other hand, the film is intriguingly surreal and Lacie Marie Meyer gives a really good performance as Aurora.  (Yes, it would appear that she was named after Aurora, Colorado, which is one reason why the film feels so distasteful even though it has a handful of effective moments.)  The film does attempt to say something about guns, with Aurora being a proponent of the 2nd amendment and the gun-grabbing mayor and his wife being behind the efforts to tear down the theater.  It’s hard to really say which side the film comes down on, though I think it’s ultimately more pro-gun control than anything else.  That said, the film’s portrayal of the mayor and his wife as being vapid politicians who want to keep their own guns while taking away everyone else’s felt true to life.

Joker’s Poltergeist is ultimately a bit too icky and exploitive to really work but it still has its moments.  It’s a movie that keeps you guessing, if nothing else.

Previous Eric Roberts Films That We Have Reviewed:

  1. Star 80 (1983)
  2. Blood Red (1989)
  3. The Ambulance (1990)
  4. The Lost Capone (1990)
  5. Love, Cheat, & Steal (1993)
  6. Love Is A Gun (1994)
  7. Sensation (1994)
  8. Doctor Who (1996)
  9. Most Wanted (1997)
  10. Mr. Brightside (2004)
  11. Six: The Mark Unleased (2004)
  12. Hey You (2006)
  13. In The Blink of an Eye (2009)
  14. The Expendables (2010) 
  15. Sharktopus (2010)
  16. Deadline (2012)
  17. Miss Atomic Bomb (2012)
  18. Lovelace (2013)
  19. Self-Storage (2013)
  20. This Is Our Time (2013)
  21. Inherent Vice (2014)
  22. Road to the Open (2014)
  23. Rumors of War (2014)
  24. A Fatal Obsession (2015)
  25. Stalked By My Doctor (2015)
  26. Stalked By My Doctor: The Return (2016)
  27. The Wrong Roommate (2016)
  28. Stalked By My Doctor: Patient’s Revenge (2018)
  29. Monster Island (2019)
  30. Seven Deadly Sins (2019)
  31. Stalked By My Doctor: A Sleepwalker’s Nightmare (2019)
  32. The Wrong Mommy (2019)
  33. Free Lunch Express (2020)
  34. Her Deadly Groom (2020)
  35. Top Gunner (2020)
  36. Just What The Doctor Ordered (2021)
  37. Killer Advice (2021)
  38. The Poltergeist Diaries (2021)
  39. My Dinner With Eric (2022)

2 responses to “The Eric Roberts Collection: Joker’s Poltergeist (dir by Christopher S. Lind)

  1. Pingback: Lisa Marie’s Week In Review: 5/15/23 — 5/21/23 | Through the Shattered Lens

  2. Pingback: Retro Television Reviews: Dark Angel (dir by Robert Iscove) | Through the Shattered Lens

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