8 interesting facts about Poltergeist

By Ryan Keating-Lambert

So, I’ve been watching a few horror movies to get into the Halloween spirit and although this one is more lighthearted than most, Poltergeist has some juicy titbits and some fascinating real life horror stories (I mean hello, real skeletons!?).

Of course I’m talking about the original 1982 film, not the 2015 remake. Add it to your Halloween list of essentials this year.


1. Spielberg’s fear of clowns

Steven Spielberg, in one of his few writing credits, actually admitted to the story being partly based on his childhood fears. Those being of clowns, and a tree outside his window. Seems the clown thing is still relevant for today.


2. Drew Barrymore was the original choice

Source: Movie Pilot

A very young Drew Barrymore was originally up for the role of Carol Anne, but Spielberg chose Heather O’Rourke after discovering her in MGM studios, and instead put Barrymore in E.T. which was made straight afterwards.


3. Spielberg was pretty hands on

There are a few decent horror sequences in Poltergeist but the most memorable has to be the face removal scene in the bathroom mirror. The hands doing the dirty work are actually Spielberg’s.


4. German origins

The word ‘poltergeist’ is of German origin and means ‘noisy ghost’ or ‘loud spirit’.


5. Stephen King

Source: Giphy

Horror icon Stephen King was originally asked by Spielberg to write the project but King’s publisher was asking for too much money.


6. Real life scares

Source: Giphy

Actress Heather O’Rourke (Carol Anne) really was terrified in the scene where she’s being sucked into the closet, which is why Spielberg pulled her aside, hugged her and told her that they wouldn’t do it again. The version in the movie is the only cut they did.


7. Mysterious deaths

Heather O’Rourke (Carol Anne) tragically died of intestinal stenosis at the age of 12 and Dominique Dunne (the teenage sister) was strangled into brain death by her boyfriend in 1982 when the film was released. What’s really weird is that they’re both buried in the same cemetery.


8. Real skeletons?!

Between mysterious deaths and other on-set problems, many believe Poltergeist was a cursed film. Perhaps it’s because they decided to use real human skeletons in the finale? Apparently they were cheaper…

Feature photo: Drakar

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