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The Poltergeist Movie Curse

  Was there a curse on the Poltergeist films of the 80s? If you believe the internet rumours, you would think so. It seems that the three films are linked to numerous deaths - but is there a curse or is it all a crock? Some of the rumours have you believe that each of the child actors died after the film's release. Others talk about mass deaths on set due to the use of real human bones in maling the films. It is true that there are at least four deaths associated with Poltergeist I, Poltergeist II (The Other Side) and Poltergeist III, but it's important to see how did they occured.

The first Poltergeist (Poltergiest) film appeared on screen on 1982. It was one of the most successful films of the 80s, making it to 56 on The Top 100 films of the 80s and probably the last great haunted house movies. The sequels were released in 1986 and 1988. To date, four of the actors that appeared in these films have died. Despite the rumours, none seem to involve supernatural causes. 
  • 1982: Dominique Dunn who played the older sister in the first Poltergeist movie was murdered by her ex-lover shortly after the film's release (and no it wasn't on set).
  • 1985: Julian Beck who played the 'bad spirit' in Poltergeist II, died of stomach cancer. It was not unexpected as the cancer had been diagnosed in early 1984.
  • 1987: Will Sampson who played the 'good spirit' in Poltergeist II, died after receiving a heart-lung transplant. Will was also known as the tall 'mute' Indian in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's nest
  • 1988: the young girl in all three movies was played by Heather O'Rourke. She died of a septic infection due to a bowel blockage that cause bacterial toxins to enter her system. Originally it was thought she had the flu, as all the early symptoms were the same. Within 24 hours, she died on the operating table while they tried to remove the blockage.
These four deaths occurred over a six year period. Diehards would probably assume that there is still some 'Poltergeist curse' linking all these characters, but ponder some of these points before jumping to any further conclusions:
  • Considering all the horror and supernatural films out there, it makes little sense to simply say that Poltergeist was the only film 'that offended the spirits'. For other examples, see Evil Dead, Hellraiser or The Exorcist.
  • Typically there are hundreds of people that work on a movie and apart from the four deaths, the remaining main actors, directors and producers from all three films are still alive and kicking almost 30 years after the movies started to appear.
  • Two of the deaths were from terminal illnesses diagnosed even before pre-production of the films began.
  • None of the deaths occurred 'on set' or in ways that would be considered particularly spooky or exceptionally connected.
  • It is always possible to create possible links to events, no matter how tenuous. A good example is the game 'Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon'.

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