The “Poltergeist” trilogy is considered on of the classics when it comes to horror films. These movies, made in the eighties, have been celebrated for years. The movies, however, had a less-than-happy background behind their making. Many believed that the films and the production of the films, were cursed.
Background on the “Poltegeist” films
The first film in the trilogy, titled “Poltergeist,” was released in 1982 and made the “Top 100 Movies of the 80’s” list, ranking in at number 56. The first sequel, “Poltergeist: The Other Side” was released in 1986 and the final installment in the series, “Poltergeist III” was released in 1988. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the films pulled in over $132 million in box office sales.
The “Poltergeist” trilogy revolved around an average middle-class family, known as the Freelings, living in the suburbs. The couple, Diane and Steven, have three children, Dana, Robert and Carol Anne. They soon find themselves being stalked by spirits with malintent. These spirits are incredibly attracted to the youngest child, Carol Anne, and kidnap her, taking her to the “other side.” It is believed the spirits are attracted to the child because she was born in the couples home, which coincidentally, was built above the final resting place for the spirit’s former bodies. Despite attempts to escape the spirits, they somehow catch up with the family.
What is the “Poltergeist”curse?
The idea of the films (and those making them) being cursed arose after an unusual, and alarming, amount of rumored deaths revolving around those involved in the creation of the films. These films are darker in nature, and contain a great deal of supernatural activity, possession and other dark matters. Many believe that the creation of these films upset the true spirits lingering in the world, unable to cross over to the “other” side.
Deaths of Individuals Connected with the “Poltergeist” Films
There were rumors about a large number of deaths occurring among those involved in the creation of the “Poltergeist” films. Some of these reports of death were confirmed, while others were deemed to be false. As it stands currently, four individuals involved in the creation of the films have died.
Dominique Dunn, who played the eldest child, Dana, in the first installment of the trilogy, was tragically murdered in 1982, shortly after the intial release of “Poltergeist.” Dominique Dunn came from a successful, well-to-do family, and had landed many successful roles in films. She was an up and coming young starlet, who go involved with the wrong man. Her ex-lover, John Sweeney, a chef, became enraged on the night of October 30th, 1986, after Dominique Dunn ended the relationship. He showed up at her apartment, dragged her outside and strangled her. Dominique Dunn was placed on life support, but it was removed a few days later and she died shortly after discontinuance of life support.
Julian Beck played the “bad spirit” in the second installment of the “Poltergeist” trilogy died of stomach cancer in 1985. Julian Beck’s death was not unexpected, as the stomach cancer had been diagnosed since 1984.
Will Sampson played the “good spirit” in the second installment of the “Poltergeist” trilogy. Will Sampson died following a heart and lung transplant in 1987.
Heather O’Rourke’s death attracted the most media attention, as she played the star of all three movies, the youngest daughter, Carol Anne. Heather O’Rourke developed a septic infection due to an intestinal blockage and died on the operating table while surgeons attempted to resolve the blockage in 1988. Heather O’Rourke died before the ending of the third installment of the series could be filmed, and it was subsequently filmed using a body double, whose face is never shown on screen.
Strange Occurances Related to the “Poltergeist” Films
Oliver Robbins, who played the middle child and only son of the Freelings, Robby, was part of a freak accident while on the set of the film. Oliver Robbins became ensnared in the clown prop used during a scene and began to choke, just as a scene was supposed to play out. Director Steven Spielberg realized the boy was really choking and leapt to Oliver’s rescue. Oliver Robbins still credits Steven Spielberg for saving his life.
JoBeth Williams, who played Diane Freeling in the “Poltergeist” trilogy, reported that every day she returned from the “Poltergeist” set, her pictures on her wall were rearranged, and despite fixing them, they would be rearranged again the next day.
Write James Kahn claimed that at the very moment he wrote about lightening striking in the script, his building was struck by lightening. The lightening that struck his building caused a case from an air conditioner to fly off, striking Kahn in the back.
Zelda Rubenstein was in a photoshoot for “Poltergeist” promotion when she felt a large jolt. She found out shortly after, that her mother had died. When looking at the developed photographs, the picture taken around the time she felt the jolt, had a large, white light obstructing Rubenstein’s face.
Is the film really cursed?
The answer to this question depends on who you ask. Those who believe in the paranormal might believe the coincidences are too much not to be related to a curse, while others may believe that they are what they are; coincidences. There is no way to prove it either way, but the facts are enough to make even the most skeptical person raise an eyebrow.
Snopes.com – Poltergeist Deaths
The Poltergeist (Poltergiest) Movie Course
The Poltergeist Curse: The Classic Example of a Cursed Horror Hollywood Set
Poltergeist Film Series
Poltergeist: Was it Cursed?