6 Shocking Facts You Never Knew About Poltergeist

May 22nd sees the release of the remake of Poltergeist in 3D. Starring Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt, it promises to preserve the genius of the original, whilst upping the fear factor. The original Poltergeist was released in 1982, and is cited as one of the scariest movies of all time. Co-written by Stephen Spielberg, this classic horror film tells the story of a family residing in a small suburb of California, whose home is haunted by ghosts, drawn to their youngest daughter. There are a few reasons Poltergeist is considered absolutely terrifying and they’re not all found in the plot of the movie. Here are 6 shocking facts you never knew about Poltergeist.

1) The film and its subsequent sequels were said to be cursed. There were a number of deaths amongst the cast and crew across the six years they filmed the trilogy:
  • Dominique Dunne, who played the eldest daughter Dana in the first movie, was strangled and killed in November 1982 by her abusive ex-boyfriend at the age of 22.
  •  Julian Beck, who played Henry Kayne in the second movie, succumbed to stomach cancer (diagnosed prior to his film role) in September 1985 at the age of 60.
  • Will Sampson, who played the part of the medicine man in the second movie, passed away after pre-operative malnutrition and post-operative kidney failure in June 1987 at the age of 53.
  • Heather O’Rourke, who starred as the young girl hounded by ghosts in all three movies, died due to septic shock, resulting from bacterial toxins infecting her bloodstream. She was also reported to be suffering from acute bowel obstruction, which may actually have caused her death. She was only 12. The curse remains one of the most compelling controversies in cinema history.
2) The crew used real skeletons in the original production rather than plastic ones. Apparently it was cheaper to purchase real cadavers, but they didn’t inform the actors until after they had shot their scenes. The curse is attributed to their use of these skeletons.

3) In the scene where Robbie is being strangled, the actor Oliver Robins found the arms of the clown actually tightened and he started to choke. Spielberg and director Tobe Hooper thought he was acting, until they noticed his face was turning purple.

4) JoBeth Williams, who played Diane Freeling in the original Poltergeist, claimed that while filming, she would regularly come home to find all the pictures on her walls were crooked.
5) Zelda Rubenstein, who played Tangina, claimed that while filming she found herself having visions. One of these visions depicted her dog coming to her and saying goodbye. Within hours, she received a call informing her that her dog had passed away.

6) Stephen Spielberg co-directed Poltergeist. He couldn’t take the reigns entirely because he was filming a small movie you’ve probably never heard of simultaneously; E.T.

Poltergeist is due out on the 22nd of May 2015.