The Untold Stories of Poltergeist the Movie

By Kris M

The Untold Stories of Poltergeist the Movie

I don’t know about you, but as a 5 year old child I watched nearly all the classic horror movies of my time alongside my mother. I had an unusual fascination for the paranormal so it comes to no surprise that Poltergeist was one of the first movies I can remember watching. At such a young age, I couldn’t help but wonder if any of the terrifying things I watched in movies had any truth to them. I would come to find out that the vengeful spirits haunting the Freeling family in the movie’s production would coincide with eerie events that notoriously took place off-screen as well. If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, keep reading for some supernatural facts of Poltergeist the Movie.

The movie is partially inspired by a real life place and events based off a story of Cheeseman Park in Denver. This prestigious residential neighborhood holds the site of Denver’s first graveyard. As it often turns out, the bodies were said to be moved elsewhere but the headstones were the only part removed from the grave sites. Intense hauntings and activity would soon after be experienced throughout the busy town. Although the film was produced in Agoura Hills in Los Angeles, it would still attract ancient spirits. During construction of a supermarket nearby, Indian burial grounds were unearthed. The set also attracted a few more spirits when the directors choose to use real skeletons as they claimed they were cheaper than artificial ones. This led to after-hour exorcisms to dispel of the bad karma. But I don’t think that actually worked.

Strange activity seemed to swarm the set and the actors’ personal lives. JoBeth Williams, Mama Freeling, claimed pictures on her wall were often crooked upon returning home from filming. She would fix them and the frames would soon be crooked again. Zelda Rubinstein, the medium, saw an image of her dog saying goodbye to her to soon after find out that her dog had died. On set, Oliver Robins, middle child Robbie, was nearly strangled by a clown doll when it malfunctioned. Until that point, he was always eager to dismiss the notion of supernatural occurrences. The cast thought he was acting, until they noticed his face was turning purple.

The real horror of the unusual events was the death of 4 cast members not long after the completion of the movie’s production. Dominique Dunne, older sister Dana, was strangled by her ex-boyfriend just after the release of the movie. Julian Beck, who played Kane in Poltergeist: II The Other Side, passed away from stomach cancer shortly after filming wrapped up. Will Sampson, the real-life shaman who co-starred as Taylor in the second movie, died during a heart-lung transplant. Perhaps most notorious of all the deaths was that of Heather O’Rouke who played Carol Anne. She tragically died after being admitted to a hospital with flu like symptoms. The family discovered she had been suffering from a long-misdiagnosed congenital intestinal abnormality and died during a procedure to correct the bowel obstruction. Due to her death, the 1988 film had to be rewritten to accommodate her absence.

What’s your take on this haunted movie? Curse of an Indian burial ground or simply just an odd coincidence?


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