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Was there a curse on the Poltergeist films of the 80s? It seems that the three films are linked to numerous deaths - but is there a curse or is it all a crock? Sadly, there are at least four deaths associated with Poltergeist I, Poltergeist II (The Other Side) and Poltergeist III. But how did they occur?


The Poltergeist curse is a rumor that a supposed curse is/was attached to the Poltergeist motion picture series and its stars.

The idea that the casts of the several movies in the series were in some way cursed is a superstition based on the fact that four of the cast members from the movies died in a relatively short span of the films' release, two of them dying at a young age (12 and 22). It is not clear that these particular films are atypical in the number or nature of the deaths of their actors.

In Poltergeist's case, those associated with the film who died prematurely include:

• Dominique Dunne, 22-year-old actress who played the oldest sister Dana in the first movie, died after being choked by a jealous boyfriend in 1982. The boyfriend was later convicted and sentenced to six years in prison.

The poltergeist movie curse

• Heather O'Rourke, 12-year-old actress who played Carol Anne in the three Poltergeist movies, died in 1988 after what doctors initially described as an acute form of influenza but later changed to septic shock after bacterial toxins invaded her bloodstream.

• Julian Beck, 60-year-old who played Kane in Poltergeist II: The Other Side, died of stomach cancer, with which he was diagnosed before he had accepted the role.

• Will Sampson, 53 years old, who played Taylor the Medicine Man in Poltergeist II, died of post-operative kidney failure and pre-operative malnutrition problems.

Other rumours surrounding the film have pointed to a potential cause of the curse. The most widely blamed alleges that real human skeletal remains were used as props in the first film, causing the angry spirits of the deceased to wreak havoc. On this theory, also "survivor" actress JoBeth Williams has pointed out in television interviews (most notably the E! True Hollywood Story episode "The Curse of Poltergeist") that she was actually told that the skeletons used in the well-known swimming pool scene in the first Poltergeist film were real.

Other occurrences that have been attributed to the curse include:

• The "Freeling" home in Southern California where the original film was partially shot was damaged by the Northridge earthquake in 1994.

• JoBeth Williams, who played mother Diane Freeling, claims she returned home from the set each day to find pictures on her wall askew. She would straighten them, only to find them crooked again the next day.

• Actor Will Sampson, a Creek Indian and actual shaman, performed an exorcism on the set of Poltergeist II to rid it of "alien spirits." A year after Poltergeist II was released, he died.

• During a scene when Robbie Freeling (Oliver Robins) was choked by a clown in his room, something went wrong with the prop and Robins was actually being choked.

• During a photography session for Poltergeist III, it was discovered that one shot of another "survivor" co-star Zelda Rubenstein had shining light obstructing the view of her face. Rubenstein claims the photo was taken at the moment her real-life mother died.

• During the fight Dominique Dunne had with her boyfriend that ended up with her losing her life, Dominique's friend who was at the house turned up the Poltergeist soundtrack to drown out the noise of the two yelling outside.

• During the making of Poltergeist III, a movie set of a parking garage was completely engulfed by fire during shooting of a fire scene, from which only one crew member escaped without a scratch.

Looking at the information above, the only link between the deaths is that they are all unfortunate. There have been many unfounded rumours circulating that the deaths occurred during shooting (they were all completed) and that the entire cast was dead. If this ever had happened, then yes it would suggest a curse.



Last modification: October 7, 2007



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