The Poltergeist is one of my all-time favorites and one of the first horror films which is why I am very excited to experience the phenomenon for myself at this year’s 80’s inspired Halloween Horror Nights event in Orlando.
Here are some interesting facts about the 1982 film…
1. The Poltergeist cruised into theatres with a PG rating and became one of the films to prompt the Motion Picture Association of America to look more closely at ratings. In 1984, the MPAA added PG13 since there was no other distinction between PG and R at the time plus violence/gore was on the rise in movies. If the film was released today, what rating do you think it would have?
2. Poltergeist was nominated for three Oscars, for its instrumental score, sound effects editing, and visual effects and ended up losing all of them to E.T.
3. The tree that nearly swallows Robbie was supposedly filmed spitting him out, rather than sucking him in and the scene was played on screen in reverse.
4. One of my favorite scenes is the one in the kitchen when the poltergeist activity begins with the chairs. The stacking-chair effect was done without cuts or special effects. When the camera panned away from the unstacked chairs, crew members rushed to replace them with a pre-stacked set of chairs before the camera panned back.
5. There is a film curse! This rumor began upon the deaths of four of the franchise's cast members not long after working on the film(s). Dominique Dunne, who played Dana, was strangled by her ex-boyfriend. Julian Beck, who played Kane in 1986's "Poltergeist II: The Other Side," died of stomach cancer. Will Sampson, who co-starred as Taylor in the second film, died in 1987 while recuperating from a heart-lung transplant. But the most notorious of all the cast deaths was the death of Heather O'Rourke (Carol Anne) in 1987. The 12-year-old was admitted to a hospital with flu-like symptoms, but was suffering from a long-misdiagnosed intestinal abnormality and she died during an operation to correct it.
6. A low budget show ran in Canada from 1996 to 1999. The show was certainly paranormal in nature but did not bare much resemblance to the films.
7. Inspiration for the movie is rumored to have come from Cheesman Park in Denver; a beautiful park in a regal neighborhood stands on the site of Denver's first graveyard. When the park was built a century ago, the bodies were supposed to be dug up and buried elsewhere, but as in the film, the headstones were removed but the corpses left in place. To this day, there may be as many as 2,000 skeletons beneath Cheesman Park.
8. Spielberg was contractually barred at the time from directing another film while E.T. was in the works, but he was extremely involved with Poltergeist. Spielberg storyboarded at least half the shots, served as second-unit director, and was on set for all but three days of filming. After Hooper submitted his cut of the film, he withdrew from the production. Spielberg finished the post-production. The Directors Guild of America was open to reviewing who would be named the director but Spielberg insisted that Hooper deserved sole credit on the film.
9. When Marty rips his own face off the effect was created with a model bust of the actor's head. The actor was nervous about working with the only bust made, so those are Spielberg's hands you see tearing at Marty's flesh.