Thursday, July 26, 2018

Set Stories

I want to bring up set stories from crew members who purport Steven Spielberg was running the show and how one-sided these "evidence to the contrary" (on the issue of Hooper's validness on set) are.  I will also bring those up in conjunction with all other set stories we have, ones heard from actors, mainly.

Now the following is an interesting account, because it is from two different production members who always mention the presence of both Hooper and Spielberg as decision-makers on set, yet one is speaking on behalf of Hooper and the other is absolutely convinced Hooper could not have had a smaller role in what would turn out to be Poltergeist.

What we can use these accounts of the set for are a sort of comparison point for what we have heard from certain actors.

Now the veracity of the stories are anyone's guess, and, if to be believed at all, there is the issue of subjectivity and the failings of memory.

We begin with a story of the day Beatrice Straight, Martin Casella, and Richard Lawson were tasked to perform very technical, scientific dialogue and were not able to perform it until Spielberg rewrote it.

Source: The Poltergeist Fansite: "Who Really Directed 'Poltergeist'?
Another source who worked on the film told me: "In the beginning, Steven did occasionally yell action and say cut. Sometimes the actors got two different sets of directions from two directors. Sometimes they would be the opposite directions. After about three days of that, Beatrice Straight put her foot down and said she would only listen to one director. That was Tobe. After that, Steven was often on the set, but since he was prepping ET he wasn't there all the time. The only time I ever saw him really fight with Tobe was after an entire day of shooting a scene with Beatrice Straight and the other two scientists involving a great deal of gobblety-gook dialogue, Tobe just couldn't get the shot. Steven came onto the set and was very upset - there was a lot of ugly yelling - and Tobe just stood there taking it. Beatrice Straight, again the hero of the day, finally stood up to Steven, said that the dialogue (which I believe Steven himself had written for the scene) was unplayable and that Sir Laurence Olivier himself couldn't act such badly-written dreck. She made it very clear that Tobe was not to be blamed. Steven was very quiet and about five minutes later the cast and crew were all dismissed for the day. The next day the actors came back to the set and were handed new dialogue, which again I believe Steven had rewritten. It was 100% better and Tobe shot the scene in about an hour with no problem. But before shooting commenced, Steven got up in front of the entire cast and crew and apologized for the outburst and said Tobe was not to blame for the previous day's delays. It was one of the most generous, selfless and courageous things I had ever seen on a movie set. "

"BenThere" then disputed the particulars of the above recollection:

"I vehemently disagree with almost every detail recounted in that quote. I do not doubt your word that this person worked on the film - so, on that point, I stand corrected, but I believe I'm wrong ONLY on that point. As I said before: 'I'm just plain tired of hearing so much pure conjecture from the public - and so much pure BS from its principal players.' Certainly, my witness IS in the minority, as, to the best of my knowledge, no 'Poltergeist' cast or crew member has EVER publicly stated 'the whole truth and nothing but the truth' on the subject of its director. It may be said, that, in my many years of silence, I DID suppress the truth... but I most certainly DID NOT EVER perpetuate the falsities and outright lies as have so often been professed by many of our cast and crew."
Now, if you'll allow me to get personal here, I believe the red, bolded part of the first account, but in regards to the red, bolded part of the 2nd account - come on.  "BS from the principal players," as if they can deny what happened to them on the set, and "pure conjecture from the public," the exact reason Hooper has been the one suffering the most marginalization in regards to the film?  Cast and crew, going against their better instincts, lying on behalf of Hooper, really?  We're going to play the turning tables card?

Back to the first account, we cannot proclaim it absolute fact, nor that it isn't awash in enlargements, exaggerations, and outright fabrications (such as the more fractious elements in the story).  But we can corroborate this story as truth, as Martin Casella, the actor (now writer) who plays Marty, has put this story on the record, in the form of a podcast appearance on "I Was There Too":
(Casella) "When we shot that scene later, it's the scene where we're walking down a hallway and Richard Lawson says, "Oh, we observed a really amazing incident where the truck moved a quarter of the inch in five hours!" and Craig Nelson goes, "Uh-huh, uh-huh," and then he opens the door, and every toy in the room is flying through the air and jumping up and down.  Well, that scene originally had the most difficult to learn, scientific gobbledy-gook you'd ever heard.  And we shot it, and shot it, and shot it, and shot it, with Tobe going, "Well, try it again," and Beatrice Straight was almost pulling her hair out, and Richard and I would get tongue-tied, and finally, Steven finally had to come in and say, "You know, there's a problem."  And Beatrice Straight said, "We can't say this dialogue.  We literally can't say it.  It just makes no sense."  And Steven said, "Okay, fine.  Send everyone home and the scene will be re-written tonight"... He came back the next day... said, "We're back on track now," and we all read the dialogue and went, "Oh... oh yeah" and I think we got it in one take after that, because all the technical stuff had been taken out, so now it's just funny and punchy."
So the accounts are basically the same, save the juicier elaborations in the anonymous account that allege him or her seeing an angrier Spielberg and a more abused Hooper, as well as the supposed "apology" Spielberg gave.

As for the second witness, they are primarily disagreeing with the idea that Hooper ever became the dominant force on set, and asserting that anyone who says otherwise is under a grave misapprehension and marked by an inability to read critically the events on set.  But it turns out they are in fact in the dark about this hallway scene's shooting, corroborated by Casella; and, whether they simply missed that moment or not, they remain highly skeptical that Spielberg's blow-up, then apology, happened (which, given, is the most likely exaggerated part of the first witness's account).  The second witness continues on, never quite pinpointing the source incident of the first witness's story (he or she conjectures it may have been the dinner table exchange, or the researchers discussing things in the living room), but rather using this as a jumping-off point to discuss the day they do remember, in which they shot Richard Lawson sketching at the bottom of the staircase - a day that would prove an eventful one, in their caseI will quote it at length, not because I wish to dispute or confirm anything within it, but, taking it at its word, it can illuminate a little bit about Hooper and Spielberg's relationship on set, and perhaps Hooper's state of mind:
By phone, I've already contacted two other 'Poltergeist' crew members who, like myself, were present 'on set' each and every day of shooting. As well, like myself, neither recall any such exchange among Steven, Tobe, and Beatrice - and, believe me - it's almost impossible that all three of us would EVER forget (or never even hear mentioned) such a 'generous, selfless, and courageous' apology as is claimed to have been given 'the entire cast and crew"... by Mr. Spielberg, no less!!

Semi-Interesting Side Note: Based on my intimate familiarity with the making of "Poltergeist," I believe the claimed exchange of dialogue and subsequent apology could only have taken place in the Interior Freeling House Set (ie. - kitchen, dining room, living room, downstairs bathroom, and staircase with upstairs landing, hall and bedroom doors). Most likely it would have occurred sometime around our shooting the Dr. Lesh / Diane discussion as a tea pot slides across the dining table on its own power... or the scene where Ryan (Richard Lawson) is listening to music via headphones while, simultaneously, sketching his version of a ghostly apparition - even as he fails to notice that his scientific 'ghost image capturing' equipment is, also, stirring to action. What's 'interesting' here is twofold: Firstly, we shot both of those scenes on the same day. Secondly, it was the ONLY day that Mr. Spielberg was, IN FACT, 'very upset - (and indeed) there was a lot of ugly yelling.' Your source got that much right and I would never again see him SO vocally express his displeasure to anyone else. By the way... (geez, I almost forgot)... most interesting of all is this: He was not 'upset' with, nor did he 'yell' at Tobe Hooper. He was upset with... and he yelled at... ME!"


Certainly, it IS possible that Beatrice's objections, Steven's outburst to Tobe, and Steven's apology were known only to a select group of individuals and not to so large a group as was inferred by your source. What DID happen in witness of a large number of cast and crew was Steven's outburst to me. Let me be very clear on this point: Some directors, (too many actually) are, in fact, "reamer/screamers" and they can be easily agitated and/or moved to anger by even the smallest of problems or setbacks. Mr. Spielberg, however, is NOT among them. He is a most cordial person, but he is human, after all, and his emotional facilities are definitely intact.


For very practical reasons, the entire film, or quite nearly the entire film was storyboarded.
In purely artistic terms, the action as depicted in "Poltergeist's" storyboards was quite simple in nature... almost cartoonish. (This is not to slight our, then, storyboard artist, Ed Verreaux, who is now a production designer. His sketches were drawn in the style and manner of Steven's request.) In the earlier stages of preparing "Poltergeist" we were told the storyboards should not be taken too literally - they were not "the bible," then again, neither was the script, but I digress. The storyboards were most useful in keeping the entire crew 'all on the same page' and they provided a good deal of information as to how Steven wanted the film to be shot, especially in terms of his preferred camera angles, lens sizes, and camera movements.
This is interesting, to me.  The debate over how much of Spielberg's influence can be attributed to his heavy involvement in storyboarding - or if Hooper collaborated extensively on the storyboards and exerted his own influence there - we can put aside, but I'd like to just say that Poltergeist is something of a "simple" film... and it is simple in the way many Hooper films are "simple."  Think Jaws, Duel, 1941, and Close Encounters and notice how elaborate are their set-pieces and how particular their sense of graphical montage.  Poltergeist is simple, simple, simple, in comparison, and it's so interesting that a crew member who became intimate with the film's storyboards would go so far as to call the storyboards "cartoonish" - I would say due to this simplicity.  This is because Poltergeist was not a "classy" genre picture the likes Spielberg had made, where the New Hollywood realism of the characters and drama matched the elaborateness of the cinema, the technical precision of the camera manifested from shots laid-out and long-planned.  Poltergeist was so simple, and it was storyboarded as such, because it was, in Spielberg's eyes, a horror cartoon... With set-ups so basic as a shot of a tree outside the window and a tree arm grabbing a little boy...  Thus, the onus was on Hooper to bring the sense of texture and reality to the simple cartoon that this picture existed as in storyboards.  It's baffling the importance people will give to the storyboards in order to claim Spielberg's influence, but it is rather the greatest evidence of the barest parameters Hooper worked with in order to make a decidedly un-Spielbergian film.  He had Spielbergian blueprints, and it's from there that Hooper's imagination is allowed to soar.  Is that not what directors (non-writer/directors) do?  He has a location, he has an idea of the story and what needs to be shot, and he let his inspirations take him from there.  Yes, he followed the plans of his producer and his cinematographer a lot of the time - when it coincided with his vision of things - but when he was given a drama to stage, he would see things to his liking.  This is why the Living Room scene is so effective, because you can tell Hooper feels the freedom to stage the scene as he sees fit, without the restrictions of tree puppets and budgetary concerns.
 Twenty five years later, I have yet to work another film that was so completely storyboarded as was "Poltergeist." The combined bulk of the storyboards made them almost twice as thick as the script itself and a steady stream of changes to both required our constant and diligent upkeep. As our remaining number of prep days decreased, emphasis on our knowledge of (and, therefore, the importance of) those storyboards increased. In short, it turned out that, sometimes, those storyboards WERE considered "the bible."
What a limited perspective this is, that just because storyboards exist, it must negate the presence of an individualistic artist on the set.  This is the great "automation versus human will" debate.  Poltergeist is almost a story of defeat to the impersonality of automation, given how much critics will describe its mainstream sheen and impersonal nature, but there is more than enough of Hooper's human spark to overcome a triumph of mass production.
No more than a couple or three weeks before we began shooting, I was forced to inform Tobe the limitations on some of the technical equipment to be used in the film. I also confessed a lack of certain expertise on my part as well. Tobe was actually quite gracious and accomodating. He asked if his cutting the scene - in a place where neither the script nor the storyboards called for a cut - would solve my problem. Indeed, it would, and by his agreeance to do just that, I was greatly relieved.

Only days into our shoot, however, as we began to rehearse that scene it suddenly dawned on me that neither Tobe nor myself had ever made Steven aware of my problem and our agreed upon cut. My greatest fear was realized then as Steven's blocking of the scene did not allow the cut that I'd been assured of. I looked over at Tobe and he just raised his hands and rolled his eyes as if to say, "Hey... tell Steven your problem... I ain't directing this thing!" At that point, it became my distinct and very unfortunate task to tell Steven that I could not accomodate the shot he wanted to do. Quite frankly, I fully expected a swift and harsh reaction to that news... and, geez-louise... did I ever get it! I won't detail his exact words or the heated manner in which he communicated his thoughts, but, in essence, he wanted to know why I had failed to accomplish something that had been in the script AND in the storyboards for some three months.


In the moment, I did not take his wrath well... but I took it. Later that day, I had occasion to return that disfavor to him in nearly the same tone and in, exactly, the same words. Like I said before, you CAN argue with Steven... but you damn well better have good reason. If you don't have good reason, however, well you damn well better be nothing short of RIGHT!"


[I asked: And I'm assuming the shot in question involved Ryan making the pencil sketch while the camera tilts up toward the stairs...?]

"That is correct."
So: Spielberg was a harsh taskmaster who wanted certain elaborate shots.  A more-completely Tobe Hooper-Poltergeist would not have had that shot of the camera tilting up from Ryan to the top of the staircase.  Honestly, it's a shot I can do without.  It might have been more interesting without such a showy shot that so underlines its expensiveness.  Hooper and I seem to share the same sense of priorities when it comes to cinema.

But let's move on to the fact that this crew member offers an example of Spielberg's totalitarianism and of Hooper's demureness (and, let's admit it, his cowardice in the face of altercation, something which, understandably, must have miffed this individual greatly, and I cannot say I would not have felt rebuffed in the same way) as evidence of why this is a Spielberg film and not a Hooper film.  But soap opera antics are one thing, and the substance of a collaboration and partnership is another.  Hooper cannot be scrub-washed out of this film just because he shrank from a fight at one moment, or just because Spielberg was responsible for certain money shots that were more or less superfluous?

And let's be clear, Hooper did not say, "I ain't directing this thing."  That was pure projection on behalf of the individual, onto Hooper's betrayal/throwing of him under the bus.

Let's hear a little more of what Casella says about the Poltergeist set in the "I Was There Too" podcast:
CASELLA: "There's obviously the question you may or may not ask about the "directorial" [etc.]... and my answer always says, Tobe always directed my scenes.  Steven was always there, because he was the producer, and he shares co-screenwriting credit on the film." 

Host, Matt Gourley: For the listeners, there's been some controversy as to whether Spielberg or Tobe Hooper directed this, because he was contractually obligated to do E.T., but wanted to do this, but then had to give it over to Tobe Hooper, correct.

"That's... basically correct.  I guess." [ed.: I mirror Casella's noncommittal affirmation.  I actually think it's largely untrue.  Poltergeist was always intended for Hooper.  If Spielberg ever desired to go back on his offer, this was never publicly deliberated.]

Host, Matt Gourley: So he was present on the set, but you're sort of saying that, Tobe Hooper, he handled the reigns.

"Yeah.  As far as I was concerned, I was there for five weeks of... whatever the length of the shoot was, and then I came back and had to do reshoots later - which were actually overseen by Frank Marshall, who was one of the producers..."

[...] 

Host, Matt Gourley: So then we'll consider the Spielberg-Hooper thing settled for today's purposes, 'cause I think everybody talks about that.
And, to that that last remark, I must concur and ask, WHY is this the case?  When all the evidence you have stares you in the face, of a set filled with warring voices, but one in which Hooper is always - always, whether according to accounts coming in defense of Hooper or not - mentioned to be present?  Why must he be scrubbed of his authorship because he emulates the style of his producer, who would have made a film far different and more stylized left to his own devices, without a director to stopper him?

Back to the "I Was There Too" interview:
"Steven was the one who shot that sequence [Marty getting bitten in the children's bedroom], because it was technically an insert.  Like in Raiders, when I was a PA on Raiders and things, and Steven's assistant... Frank Marshall shot some of that.  That's how movies work, for anyone who knows how movies work."

[...]

"He said, "Don't worry, with the special effects and the ILM guys, they'll make it something sparkly," or, I don't know, whatever ghost saliva looks like.  So... it was very, very painful.  That's all I remember.  And then they lowered me back down and Steven was like, "Good guy"... but at that point, I'd knew Steven for three years, and we were laughing, and he said, "Great, great, great," and "You're all done, terrific."  And, later on, when they were doing post-production on the movie... I can't remember who called, if it was Steven, or Kathleen Kennedy, or Frank, or somebody... and said, "We're just giving you a head's up -- you're in the movie, don't worry, there's no way to cut you out!"  And friends of mine who had no idea, they were like, "Oh, will we see you in the movie?  Do you have a line?"  And I'm like, "Well, I'm in the movie for, like, 45 minutes... Yeah, you'll see me... don't worry..."  Because we'd already done the looping by then.  That's when they told me, it was at the looping session."

"They told me that-- that's when it was, I remember now, they told me that day.  They said, what happened is that, JoBeth Williams's acting was so amazing in that scene that was happening simultaneously to what I was going through... it was when she says, "Oh my God, she went through me, I felt her soul!"  Steven said, "We couldn't find a way to cut away to you because it would have ruined that really beautiful moment."  And I was like, "Okay."  And so they gave me a couple stills."

"The thing I want to say about JoBeth Williams, in addition to how amazing she is, she is one of those actors - I don't know if she's still that way or not - that she had such... she carried that movie, basically.  She had all the hard stuff to do.  She had effects to do, she had to be the loving mother, she had to be funny, and she basically had to spend the last part of the movie screaming, in a bathtub, a ghost dragging her around the room.  She was, very, very, very focused.  And, for some of the time, it was one of those performances, which we all hear about, where it was basically, the AD would go, "Kind of leave JoBeth alone.  It takes her a lot of time to prepare."  And when you see the results, you'd understand why.  That scene where she says, "I felt her go through me."  I got to see that, I was there when she shot that.  I mean, some of the people were in tears, she was so wonderful."
This is very true about JoBeth Williams as Diane.  ... I also lose the fantasy that Casella and Spielberg were off shooting the beast biting scene while Hooper was filming the entire Living Room sequence alone, if in fact Martin was present to see Williams perform the "Went through my soul" moment.

Now what we can gather from these set stories is a sense of an egalitarian, multilateral set between director and producers (as well as all other technicians and craftspeople present, and even actors, like the very focused JoBeth Williams).  This is also suggested from some of producer Frank Marshall's more avuncular comments about Hooper's presence, often hinting at someone just learning the ropes and needing too much of a push when it comes to an enormous production like this.  So what we have is something of a portrait of Hooper as a new, green camp counselor, in a sort of "summer camp" of big-budget movie-making, with Spielberg being the most knowledgeable counselor and Hooper sometimes fumbling in his attempt to assert himself.  Hooper, then, was learning all the duties of a counselor/director: using tight shot lists, luxurious schedules in which you can devote hours on a single shot, and how to work within these parameters while being true to your vision of things.  Or we can say Hooper was even just a camper in this workshop atmosphere of the Poltergeist set, in which all children get to learn their trade.  Hooper's trade was directing.  Even a toddler on a play-set with big boys playing around him is still one that is playing and creating, between him and the play-set, a relationship between human and his workplace and tools; even an apprentice forging his first metalwork is still the one forging.

So all accounts, pro-Hooper or anti-Hooper, cannot say Hooper was not on the set.  And almost all actors says he was the primary decision-maker.   The way to reconcile all the divergent perceptions of the set is thus: Spielberg made his presence known.  Hooper was always acquiescent to the reality of Spielberg's opinionated producing.  People don't understand the priorities of an artist.  Hooper, in his own head, was always making his [own] film.
 

Monday, July 16, 2018

Is Tobe a "Take-Charge" Sort of Guy? And, The Bird Story.

SPIELBERG: "Tobe isn't what you'd call a take-charge sort of guy.  He's just not a strong presence on a movie set."

Is he?  No.  This doesn't mean he didn't have vision, or that he didn't have a backbone.  Texas Chain Saw alums remember a few tantrums.  He was a quiet, interior, sometimes inarticulate, largely mumbly artistic presence.  He is going to fare even less well on a heavy-stricture major studio set.  Does this mean he didn't direct his film?  No.  Are there other ways to exert your influence?  Yes.  It is these smaller, less conspicuous and showy ways that crew members ignore for Spielberg's more attention-grabbing producing.

"If a question was asked and an answer wasn't immediately forthcoming, I'd jump up and say what we could do. Tobe would nod agreement, and that became the process of the collaboration."

If an answer wasn't immediately forthcoming.  And in those cases in which he jumped in, he didn't really care.  "You want the clown to be skinnier instead of stubbier?  Sure."  And when he cared, you better expect he spoke up.  It became the nature of the collaboration: frustration on both ends.

"Well, the turmoil is essentially created by wanting to do it your own way and having to go through procedure.  That is why I will never again not direct a film I write.  It was frustrating for Tobe Hooper and it was frustrating for the actors, who were pretty torn between by presence and his on the set every day."

Procedure.  Spielberg had to suppress himself.  Things had to be uniformly agreed upon.  Hooper was the director who worked in tandem with Spielberg.

Also, from my diligent Facebook stalking, I can confidently say there was at least one instance where a stand-up person out there who "happens to know a person" who "worked on the production," says that that person he knows said Hooper directed.  Whenever you find a comment saying "I knew a crew member," it is almost always a vote for Spielberg, but there is one, golden time where the person who knows the person, and that person was in the crew, holy cow, said the person said it was Hooper directing.  There is at least one production personnel on my side, whoever you are. *weeps*

And I'll finish off this short post with the "Bird Story," graciously tipped off to me by a reader as invested in the Poltergeist story as I am, told by the late Lou Perryman on the Dead Pit podcast that you can listen to here.  It is a case of Hooper having a forthcoming answer...

"[Answering the question] Tobe directed it.  ... Tobe directed it.  You know, Tobe told me that what he had to do was accept reality.  He and Steve were writing a script, together, and they were probably gonna take 16 years to write it, who knows, with Tobe.  Who knows, I don't know, less?  But at some point, Steve wrote it, said, "Here's our script, this is what we're going to shoot."  And, of course, he's got, "Written by Steven Spielberg."  And I believe Tobe.  Absolutely I believe Tobe.  Tobe, Tobe had a [...?] story, and understood what needed to be in there, and was certainly conversant with Poltergeist and what was into that.  But Tobe directed me, and everything I saw while I was there he directed.  Steve was there, you're not gonna ignore Steve, but he's only gonna step-- he only stepped in... I think they talked about some stuff.  He didn't go in and take things over, while I was there.  I heard some of the stories that were... not flattering of Steve.  Of making trouble.  Remember the scene in Poltergeist where the mother is getting ready to flush the little dead bird, and there's the shadow of the dead bird on the toilet lid?  All of a sudden you see the shadow of this hand holding this bird... and evidently, Steve wanted Tobe to put his profile in that shot in the back of the toilet.  Anyway, weird; Tobe said no.  Tobe said, no, I don't believe I'll do that.  I don't want to do that, Steve.  And Steve stayed after him and [?] him about it.  And made almost an issue of it.  I believe Tobe on that one.  Tobe wouldn't tell that story, I'm sure.  But it's difficult, you know, we're all human and shit comes in, and he might've felt some breath from Tobe, I don't know what.  What can we imagine, that Steven Spielberg who was not the monster star even then as he is now, but with all the heavy weight that he was there... he was busy doing E.T., evidently, so he was there only a part of the time, so if there was anyone who was there part of the time, it was Steve.  But yeah, Tobe directed, Tobe directed me.  It was tense, you know, you've got Steve Spielberg looking over your shoulder, holy mackerel.  You're gonna be on your best behavior.  I've known actors that have been just so tense around certain directors who didn't make them feel comfortable.  I've worked with directors who didn't make me feel comfortable... god damn Oliver Stone, man.  Wanna be tense?  Holy shit, that's the guy.  God damn."

Friday, July 13, 2018

VIDEO ESSAY! "How the Pool Scene of 'Poltergeist' Could Have Turned Out"


I am no virtuoso, but here is my humble attempt at a video essay on Poltergeist's pool scene and how the script could point to a very different scene if realized by someone else other than Hooper.

Video-making is a tedious and difficult process, and so I'll admit to gaps in the larger argument result of a lack of patience to go back and fill them in.  I forget to put a point on the nature of the film's skeletons or corpses, in contrast to the "characteristic corpses" of the script that emphasize the morbid individuality of the dead instead of the "anonymity" of the corpses (I mention "anonymity" in the video, but probably fail to give it context).  Here is the commentary I had excised from the video:
As opposed to the characteristic corpses of the script, whether described as clad in burial clothes or flashing its embalmment paraphernalia, what we have instead is complete interchangeability marking the concept of death.  One corpse is described in the script with a “leathery face,” like the mummies of Raiders.  The "upsurge" of corpses is describes as a "black tie crowd," as if a scene from The Shining.  No, these are not ghouls for Hooper, they are merely the metonym for death and require no greater elaboration.
I also took out further commentary on Spielberg and Hooper's divergent approach to characters and dramatic scenarios.  While Spielberg is a dramatist and will traditionally develop characters by giving each their "moment" (such as Mrs. Tuthill telling her husband emphatically, "No.  Don't go in there"), Hooper only serves to realize a document of reality, not the measured dramatic display of a screenplay.  Thus, the Tuthills' personal deliberations over what to do with Diane are a cacophonous overlapping of their indecision and objections.  Mr. Tuthill's line, pointing out the bodies, is completely elided, looking down at the bodies, relegating him to an Other with no stake in the events.  Mrs. Tuthill's objection isn't the caricature-approaching, underlined moment of entitled bourgeois disengagement, but a proper wrestling with a character allowed humanity, the ability to be as afraid as Diane - she pleads with her husband, Hooper knowing the most understandable and universal instinct is not to judge (whether Mrs. Tuthill herself, or the audience in reaction to her) but to empathize, and we are allowed to do so with Mrs. Tuthill.
Tuthill feints a step toward the house before his wife, in rather typical Spielbergian fashion of overriding emotional caricatures, grabs him and sternly - whether in fear or an anti-noblesse oblige - and says, in its big bolded moment, “Don’t go in there.  Don’t ever go in there.”  It’s a statement towards Spielberg’s interest in measured drama and character work, as opposed to the instinctive, subliminal dramatic and character work of Hooper’s realistic zone.
Also, my most regretted omission, not pointing out the restaging of the scene that has Diane finally climbing out of the pool not at the shallow end but by climbing a large hose.  Absurdity through necessity.

Hopefully not too incoherent to extract something sensical every so often, please enjoy.