Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Were the Poltergeist films cursed?

It seems that some movies are besieged by unimaginably awful luck, almost unending misery and terrible, terrible events. No, we're not talking about the back catalogue of Rob Schneider, we're talking about so-called 'cursed' films.

You've probably heard about a few movies that have been besieged by ill fortune before. Films like 'The Exorcist', 'The Crow', 'Rebel Without A Cause' and 'The Omen'. But perhaps the most cursed motion pictures of all time are the three that make up the '80s horror trilogy, 'Poltergeist'.

June 4th sees the 30th anniversary of the release of the first film and it reminded us of the remarkable and quite disturbing reputation that the Steven Spielberg-produced chiller and its two sequels have ('Poltergeist 2' was made four years later and the third followed in 1988). In the movies, a family is haunted by a host of evil ancient spirits, but it seems that many of the people associated with the films were then haunted by awful luck. Was the production really cursed? Let's find out...

The most remarkable thing about the 'Poltergeist' legacy is the alarming number of cast deaths that occured post-shoot. In the six years between the first movie and the third, four of the main cast had died. Two were slightly older men, so that's perhaps not all that shocking. Will Sampson (who also played the sink-chucking Indian in 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest') died in June 1987 from complications of his heart surgery and Julian Beck (Henry Kane in the sequel) died of stomach cancer in September 1985.

The saddest deaths though were those of 22 year-old Dominique Dunne, who played Dana in the original, and Heather O'Rourke, who was little Carol Ann from all three films. Dunne was strangled by her abusive ex-boyfriend John Sweeney (who ended up serving less than four years in prison). Immediately after filming wrapped on the last film, Heather was misdiagnosed with Crohn's disease and died due to toxic shock caused by a bowel obstruction missed by doctors. She was just 12-years-old. Read More