From Halloween to A Nightmare on Elm Street, there’s no shortage of iconic ’70s and ’80s horror films that have launched long-running franchises. Still, Poltergeist’s cult following sets it apart – and many of those fans believe the poltergeist franchise is actually cursed.
A reboot of the 1982 horror film Poltergeist came out in 2015, but let’s face it: Nothing quite quite matched the original. While no horrific accidents happened on the set of the latest film (which we know about anyway), there are plenty of rumors of a curse on the cast of the original film trilogy.
The film revolves around a suburban family moving into a new home and noticing strange things happening to their 5-year-old daughter, Carol Ann. It turns out that menacing spirits are haunting the house, and while their interactions appear harmless at first, their true evil nature is soon revealed when Carol Ann disappears and her distraught parents turn to an exorcist for help.
Read on to learn more about the mysterious events that have led people to speculate that the Poltergeist film series could be the most cursed series in Hollywood.
It all started with human skeletons
One of the most famous scenes shows Diane, the character created by JoBeth Williams, falling into the family’s skeleton-filled pool. What you may not know is that these skeletons are actually real – at least the “Poltergeist” cast isn’t. “In my innocence and naivety, I assumed these weren’t real skeletons,” Williams said on a 2006 episode of TV Land’s “TV Myths and Legends.” “I assumed they were plastic or rubber prop skeletons… I found out, as did the crew, that they used real skeletons because it’s far too expensive to make fake rubber skeletons.”
Months after the release of the first film, a star was murdered
Poltergeist was released in June 1982, and in November of that year, 22-year-old Dominique Dunne, who played Dana (the family’s older daughter), was murdered. Dunne was strangled in her own driveway by her abusive ex-boyfriend and was taken off life support five days later.
An exorcism was performed on the set of the sequel
Concerned about the use of real skeletons on the set of the first film, Native American actor and “Poltergeist II: The Other Side” star Will Sampson performed an exorcism on the set of the second film in 1984. According to Williams, he went to the set by himself late that night to do it. The next day, the cast reportedly felt relieved.
2 cast members died within years of the sequel
Julian Beck, who starred as Kane in “Poltergeist II: The Other Side,” died of stomach cancer at the age of 60. He was diagnosed before accepting the role, and he died in September 1985, months before the film hit theaters. In June 1987, Sampson, the actor who performed the exorcism, died at the age of 53 from malnutrition and postoperative kidney failure. Although her death doesn’t seem that unusual, some fans still believe they are connected to the curse.
Poltergeist’s young star died at 12
Heather O’Rourke (aka Carol Anne, who said the famous “They’re Here” line) was impossibly young when she died of cardiac arrest and septic shock caused by a misdiagnosed intestinal problem. She died in February 1988 at the age of 12, several months before the release of Poltergeist III, the final chapter of the original series.
One actor narrowly escaped death
Richard Lawson was on USAir Flight 405 when it crashed in Flushing Bay in March 1992. A total of 27 people (of the 51 on board) were killed. Lawson survived, but the event is another reason people claim the film brought bad luck to its cast.
In 2009, a second cast member was murdered
Lou Perryman played the small role of Pugsley in the original film. He was 67 when a recently released ex-convict killed him with an ax in his own home.
What do you think – is it a curse or just a series of terrible events?