With the reboot of the legendary horror movie “Poltergeist” comes a resurgence of claims about the purported “curse” that surrounds the original film franchise, which first premiered to terrified audiences back in 1982.
After all, it didn’t take long for “Poltergeist” to become known as the “most cursed production of all time,” as the deaths of numerous cast members caused some to wonder if something far more sinister than mere chance was at play, the Daily Mail reported,
It’s a track record that, at first glance, might raise some eyebrows.
First and foremost, there was actress Dominique Dunne, who played eldest daughter Dana Freeling in the film; she was murdered by her boyfriend not long after the movie premiered.
Then, actor Julian Beck, who played preacher Henry Kane in “Poltergeist II,” died of stomach cancer in 1985, according to the Daily Mail.
But it doesn’t end there.
Two years later, actor Will Sampson who played a medicine man named Taylor in the second film also died of kidney failure at the age of 53.
And perhaps most shockingly, in 1988, Heather O’Rourke, the 12-year-old girl who played character Carol Anne Freeling, unexpectedly died of cardiac arrest due to undiagnosed intestinal stenosis that led to shock and damaged her heart and lungs.
And, still…it continues.
Flashforward more than 20 years and actor Lou Perryman, who played character Pugsley in the first film, was murdered at his home in Austin, Texas, by an ex-convict named Seth Christopher Tatum; Tatum allegedly entered Perryman’s home and beat him more than 10 times with an ax.
A few years later in 2004, “Poltergeist II” director Brian Gibson, 59, died from bone cancer as well — and actor Richard Lawson, who played Ryan in the first “Poltergeist,” barely escaped death in 1992 when USAir Flight 405 crashed at LaGuardia Airport in New York City; 27 people perished in that accident.
It’s these incidents — and Lawson’s terrifying brush with death — that have led some to wonder if there’s a curse on the film.
There are also some other creepy elements surrounding the movie, including the props that were used in a scene in which actress JoBeth Williams — who played the Freeling family matriarch — was assaulted by skeletons in her swimming pool — skeletons that filmmaker Stephen Spielberg reportedly insisted come from dead human beings, according to the Daily Mail.
“You have to understand that this sequence took probably four or five days to shoot … in my innocence … I assumed that these were not real skeletons,” Williams said in a TV Land interview conducted a few years back. “I found out — as did the whole crew — that they were using real skeletons, because it’s far too expensive … and I think that everybody got really creeped out by that.”
See the trailer for the original 1982 “Poltergeist” below:
Lawson, who also appeared in the TV Land special, didn’t overtly say that he believes in the curse, though he seemingly pondered it.
“I heard about the curse,” he said. “And then I get into a plane crash, trapped in my seat under water for the longest time. And I survived … is there some correlation?”
But not everyone who was involved with the film believes that the curse is even a remote possibility. Consider that Oliver Robbins, who played Robbie Freeling, told the Daily Mail that he doesn’t believe anyone involved with “Poltergeist” actually buys into the hype.
“There is no curse — it is just tragic coincidences,” he said. “With this curse mythology, I never spoke to Steven [Spielberg] about it, but I guess he thinks the events that took place were horribly tragic and awful but had no relation to the events that took place on set.”
See the trailer for the new “Poltergeist,” which releases on May 22, below:
All this in mind, Snopes, a website known for tackling the rumor mill, dubbed talk of the curse mere “legend” and explained that two of the four deaths that unfolded within six years of the first film’s release were actually among older people who were ailing.
“Though two of the deaths were foreseeable (expected, even), two others were not,” Snopes wrote. “It’s the combination of the two unexpected deaths that lies at the heart of every rumor about a ‘Poltergeist’ curse.”
Snopes also noted that many of the actors who were in the original series are alive and well, and are still leading vibrant Hollywood careers.
(H/T: Daily Mail)