Curse of the Poltergeist movie! 'Poltergeist' the movie is one of the most popular cursed movie tales to date. The curse originated from The original Poltergeist movie using real skeletons for the pool scene. This is said to be the reason the movie franchise was cursed by angry spirits seeking revenge for their desecration.
Poltergeist first appeared on the big screen in 1982 ("Poltergeist (1982)"). A story where a family is terrorized by angry spirits because the family’s home is built on a burial ground. Behind the scenes, there seems to be even more terror as the first, second and third films are plagued with paranormal events and deaths.
Deaths of the Cursed Poltergeist Movie
The first death to be noted is that of the up and coming actress that played the role of the oldest sister of the Freeling’s three children Dana Freeling: Dominique Ellen Dunne. Dunne was living in her Rangley Avenue home when a mere five months after the first Poltergeist film was complete in terms of production, on October 30, 1982, Dunne was strangled by John Sweeney, an ex-boyfriend, an incident that rendered her into a coma. Six days later while in Cedars Sinai Medical Center Dunne died as a result of the strangulation on November 4, 1982 at 11 am (Michaels). Dunne, born in 1959, was just 22 years old when she died (Michaels). She is currently buried in Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles County (“Dunne”). Unfortunately, Dunne’s death is the first of several when it comes to the cast of the popular Poltergeist films.
Who can forget, Heather Michelle O’Rourke who suddenly died shortly after the completion of Poltergeist III? Heather was born on December 27, 1975. On February 1, 1988, six years after the death of Dunne, O’Rourke was brought to the Kaiser Permanente Hospital after experiencing unexplained swelling and difficulty breathing.
According to O’Rourke’s mother in an interview conducted with E! True Hollywood Story, Heather’s mother saw an apparition while in the waiting room of the hospital: the mother claims that it was Heather in her night gown. The little girl told her mother, “Mom, I’m not coming back” (“Youtube: E! True Hollywood Story Interview”). Shortly thereafter, the child died from complications brought on by septic shock (“Heather Michelle O’Rourke”). Requiring surgery the child passed away: the cause cited as cardiopulmonary arrest due to intestinal stenosis, at the age of 12 (“Heather Michelle O’Rourke”). It is believed that the child suffered from Chrohn’s Disease and that her death can possibly be attributed to the disease (“Heather Michelle O’Rourke”).
O’Rourke is buried in the same cemetery as her co-star a few short yards away, Dominique Dunne, in the Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles County – a plaque on her grave reads: “Beloved Daughter and Sister - Carol Anne, Poltergeist I, II, and III” (“Heather Michelle O’Rourke”). Still other deaths followed after the death of Dunne and O’Rourke.
Poltergeist II: The Other Side, a movie directed by Brian Gibson, was released on May 23, 1986 (“Poltergeist II”). Julian Beck played the role of the reverend Kane, and died at the age of 60, after enduring a long battle with stomach cancer shortly before the film’s release on September 14, 1985 (“Poltergeist II”). His grave marker reads: “Actor Painter, Poet, Anarchist, Pacifist, Playwright, Visionary” (“Beck”). Two years following the death of Beck, William Sampson also died at the age of 53; William played the role of the Native American shaman, and died shortly after receiving a lung transplant (“Will Sampson”). Sampson is currently buried at the Graves Creek Cemetery in McIntosh County Oklahoma (“Poltergeist II"). While Beck’s and Sampson’s deaths were due to natural causes, other events surrounding the cast members of the Poltergeist films continued to fuel the theory that the films were cursed.
Other Paranormal Activity With the Cursed Movie
Deaths are not the only strange events that happened on the set while making the Poltergeist films. According to a noted expert on the film (Read: Wikipedia) JoBeth Williams, who played Diane Freeling, claims she returned home from the set each day to find pictures on her wall askew! She would then straighten them out, only to find them crooked again the next day! Oliver Robbins, the boy who played the role of Robbie Freeling, had an encounter while making the first Poltergeist film: during the scene when Robbie is dragged under the bed by the demonic-looking clown, the puppet arms choked him, making it impossible for him to breathe (“Oliver Robbins”). When Robbins attempted to let the then director of the film know that he could not breathe, the director believed Robbins was only doing what he was expected to do: acting (“Poltergeist (1982)”). Steven Spielberg had to remove the puppet in order for the boy to regain his ability to breathe (“Poltergeist Trivia”).
Additionally, skeletons used in the film were actual human skeletal remains and that the cast and crew were extremely disturbed by such a fact; so much so that an exorcism was demanded (“Poltergeist Trivia”). Supposedly, William Sampson was asked to perform the exorcism, which he did while the set was cleared (“Eye Scream”). In addition, according to reports, the Simi Valley Home used in the film for the exterior photos of the Freeling home was involved in a 1994 earthquake and sustained damage (“Eye Scream”). The filming of Poltergeist III also saw its share of troubles.
During the making of Poltergeist III: Zelda Rubinstein, the actress that plays Tangina, was forced into leaving the production due to her mother’s death (“Poltergeist III”). Further, during one scene where a car’s explosion was staged, the explosion caused the entire set to catch on fire and endangered a crew member in the process (“Poltergeist III”).
Can the series of deaths and strange events be written off to mere bad luck, coincidence, or chance? Similar events have surrounded other films of similar subject matter; and given a close look at some of the reports associated with the Poltergeist Trilogy it becomes increasingly difficult to write off such events to mere chance or bad luck. After all, deaths, fire, the unexplained movement of objects, requested exorcisms, and the unexplained choking by a puppet certainly sounds like real paranormal activity doesn’t it?
- Dominique Dunne was killed at the hands of her estranged lover.
- Heather O'Rourke, who played Carol Anne, the youngest daughter, in all three Poltergeist films (Poltergeist, Poltergeist II, Poltergeist III) died from septic shock brought about by a bowel blockage that burst, filling her body with deadly toxins. She was originally treated for the flu, but died while on the operating table as doctors were attempting to remove her blockage. She died in 1988.
- Will Sampson, who played the "good spirit" in Poltergeist II did not survive a heart/lung transplant. He died in 1987.
- Julian Beck, who played the "bad spirit" in Poltergeist II died from the ravages of stomach cancer.