This is a horror movie with an even more horrifying backstory. The Poltergeist curse. The Steven Spielberg-written and Tobe Hooper-directed classic is one of the very best horror movies of the haunted house variety, one with a terrifying story that reaches far beyond the cinematic world. One of the most interesting things about this film is the infamous “curse” that plagued the franchise.
There are quite a few people in the world who believe that the Poltergeist films were stricken with a curse due to the string of deaths that took place in all three films. But it’s not just the deaths that have people convinced that this curse is the real deal, as there were many incidents on the set of the film itself. Spooky.
In the first film, Jobeth Williams (who plays the Mother) was extremely nervous about shooting the swimming pool scene because of the many electrical hazards surrounding the water. So being the calming presence that he is, Spielberg jumped into the pool with her to assure her that everything was safe. Of course, the scene went totally fine and no one got hurt, but there was something lurking in that water that may have been the root of this so called curse.
Those freaky as shit skeletons you see in the pool during one of Poltergeist‘s scariest moments were not the plastic movie props that you would expect—they were real human skeletons. The reason they used real skeletons was simple, they were cheaper than the plastic ones. The superstitious type believe that this was the very start of the curse that would go on to afflict the franchise. But not only did they use real skeletons in the first film, they also used them in the sequel as well. The man who played the shaman in Poltergeist II: The Other Side was played by Will Sampson, who is said to have been a sort of medicine man in real life, apparently attempted an exorcism one night following a shoot in hopes to get rid of the curse. He died less than a year later after complications from a kidney transplant.
Before his role in Poltergeist, Richard Lawson’s curse can be traced back way before the first film. Apparently this man is impossible to kill because he has stared into the eyes of death on five separate occasions, and that isn’t even including his premature birth. Lawson served in Vietnam and although there is no doubt that every day was a rather dangerous one, on his 21st birthday he was involved in a violent firefight and just barely avoided a bullet. Only a few years later, he was extremely close to being hit by a car while crossing the street. His next brush with death came when he was in a car accident where his body was bent in half and if it wasn’t for his window being rolled down he would have likely died. Shortly after the release of Poltergeist, Lawson almost killed himself in an overdose with cocaine. Because of yet another near death experience, he became sober soon after the drug incident. Ok so where are we? Number five, and this one is absolutely ridiculous. In 1992, Lawson was on a commercial plane that crashed just minutes after takeoff into a lake. How did he survive? Well, before getting on the flight, the ticket agent noticed that Lawson was an actor so they graciously upgraded his ticket to the first class cabin. The man who ended up in Lawson’s original seat died. Wait… what!?
But the origins of the true myth of this curse started with the tragic fates that came over the young actors that played the children in Poltergeist. The oldest daughter in the film was played by Dominique Dunne who was strangled to death by her abusive boyfriend only months after the release of the film—she was only 22-years-old at the time of her death. The boyfriend only served three years in prison.
Heather O’Rourke’s character was easily the most important in the film as the young Carol Anne. Everyone can remember her cries coming through the television which was truly creepy even to this day. O’Rourke suddenly became extremely ill in 1988. What started as stomach cramps soon took a turn for the worse and she went into cardiac arrest where she was immediately rushed into surgery. She suffered from septic shock and died on the operating table. She was only 12-years-old.
The middle child in the film, Robbie, played by Oliver Robins is still alive today despite many people claiming that he died an untimely death as well. He did however have a near fatal accident on the set while filming the scene where he gets attacked by the clown. You remember that nasty clown with a grin from ear to ear? After there was a malfunction with the mechanical clown, it nearly choked the boy to death. Everyone on set just thought he was doing a great performance and it wasn’t until he began turning blue that they realized something was wrong. Had they waited much longer the boy could have been strangled to death.
There you have it, the curse that many people believe to have haunted the Poltergeist films and its actors. Regardless if you believe this to be some curse that all started with real human skeletons, you have to admit that it is a bit strange that so many horrible things happened to some of the people involved.
So what do you guys think? Is there really a curse that follows the Poltergeist films or is it all just a big coincidence?