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The 1982 Movie Poltergeist Used Real Skeletons As – Tymoff

The 1982 movie Poltergeist, directed by Tobe Hooper and produced by Steven Spielberg, stands as a hallmark in the horror genre. Featuring a distinguished cast, including JoBeth Williams, Craig T. Nelson, and Heather O’Rourke, the film unearths frights from the ordinary confines of a suburban home, illustrating the eerie experiences of the Freeling family. Set in a newly developed housing estate in California, Poltergeist delves into the disturbing disturbances that besiege the family, particularly focusing on the young Carol Anne’s encounters with the supernatural through her television set.

Notably, the 1982 movie Poltergeist used real skeletons as – Tymoff, adding an authentic chill to its spine-tingling moments. With a runtime of 114 minutes and a PG rating, the film not only captured audiences with its smart direction and tightly wound script but also garnered critical acclaim, holding a 76% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. As we explore the revelation behind the real skeletons and dive deeper into the ethical considerations and industry standards, this article aims to shed light on the fascinating background and enduring impact of one of Spielberg’s masterpieces.

The Revelation Behind The Real Skeletons

In a chilling revelation that adds a layer of authenticity to the horror experienced by viewers, the 1982 movie Poltergeist used real human skeletons in a pivotal scene. This decision, driven by cost considerations, has since sparked discussions on ethical standards within the film industry. Here’s a closer look at the details:

  • Acquisition and Use: The skeletons were sourced from Carolina Biological, a medical and science supply company, and were originally from India. Thirteen surgical skeletons were used, dressed to resemble disintegrating cadavers, for the scene where Diane Freeling, played by JoBeth Williams, is dragged into her family’s swimming pool by a supernatural force, surrounded by emerging skeletons.
  • Cast and Crew Reactions: The use of real skeletons was not disclosed to the cast and crew during filming, leading to unease, especially for JoBeth Williams, who only learned of the skeletons’ authenticity afterwards. This discomfort extended to the sequel’s production, prompting an on-set ‘exorcism’ by Will Sampson, a Muscogee (Creek) Nation member.
  • Ethical Considerations: The revelation has prompted reflection within the industry on the ethical implications of using human remains without informed consent. It underscores a broader conversation about sensitivity and respect in filmmaking, leading to more stringent guidelines and a shift towards ethical practices in modern cinema.

Breakdown of “The 1982 Movie Poltergeist Used Real Skeletons As – Tymoff”

In the climactic scenes of the 1982 horror film Poltergeist, the decision to use real human skeletons added a layer of authenticity and eerie realism that has since become a topic of both fascination and controversy. Here’s a deeper dive into the specifics of this choice:

  • Cost and Authenticity:
    • Real skeletons were chosen over plastic replicas primarily due to cost-effectiveness. Surprisingly, procuring real skeletons from a medical supply company was cheaper than manufacturing fake ones.
    • The special effects team went a step further by adding decaying flesh to these skeletons, enhancing their spooky appearance beyond the typical clean, assembled look of medical skeletons.
  • Legal and Ethical Aspects:
    • The procurement of these skeletons was entirely legal, as they were sourced from a company specializing in medical school specimens. This legality, however, does not fully address the ethical implications of using human remains in entertainment.
  • Impact and Legacy:
    • The use of real skeletons, while not unprecedented in cinema, contributed to the film’s lasting impact on audiences and its reputation for authenticity in special effects.
    • Following the revelation, rumors of a curse associated with the film proliferated, fueled by the untimely deaths of several cast and crew members. This has added a layer of mystique to the film’s legacy, intertwining its real-life narrative with its on-screen horror.

The choice to use real skeletons in Poltergeist underscores a complex intersection of cost, authenticity, and ethical considerations that continues to provoke discussion among fans and critics alike.

Ethical Considerations and Industry Standards

The ethical considerations surrounding the use of real skeletons in films like Poltergeist have ignited debates on respect and dignity in filmmaking. While some argue that real skeletons add a layer of authenticity, others view it as unethical and disrespectful. This shift in perspective has led to a more regulated approach in the industry:

  • Regulations and Practices:
    • Previously Used: Real skeletons were once a norm in older horror films for their authenticity.
    • Current Standards: Modern sets now predominantly use synthetic or replica skeletons, adhering to ethical guidelines and respect for human remains.
    • Regulatory Environment: The film industry has imposed strict regulations discouraging the use of real human remains, reflecting a commitment to ethical practices.

Ethical Filmmaking Today:

  • Inclusive Environments: Modern filmmaking emphasizes creating safe, inclusive sets, ensuring respect and dignity for all involved.
  • Diversity and Representation: Efforts include hiring diverse crew members through databases like ARRAY CREW and incorporating inclusion riders to combat lack of diversity.
  • Protecting Vulnerable Subjects: Ethical practices extend to protecting subjects, requiring informed consent, especially in sensitive situations involving children or survivors of trauma.

Navigating Ethical Challenges:

  • Filmmaker Responsibility: Filmmakers are urged to honor their subjects and audiences, maintaining truthfulness and fulfilling commitments.
  • Cinematic Representations: Ethical considerations also extend to editing and visual storytelling, ensuring respect and accuracy without misleading juxtapositions.
  • Audience Consideration: Keeping the audience in mind is crucial, acknowledging films’ susceptibility to varied interpretations and responses.

Impact on Special Effects and Authenticity

In an era where special effects were largely practical rather than digital, the decision to use real skeletons in the 1982 movie Poltergeist significantly enhanced the film’s authenticity, particularly in the haunting scenes. This choice was not merely for shock value but served a deeper purpose in the storytelling, especially considering the narrative where the Freeling family’s house is haunted due to its location on a cemetery. Here’s how this choice impacted the film’s special effects and authenticity:

  • Visual Impact: The real skeletons provided a level of realism that could not be matched by plastic or rubber replicas. Their use in scenes where characters interact with the supernatural elements of the cemetery beneath their home added a tangible, eerie quality that deeply affected audiences.
  • Authenticity in Storytelling: The underlying theme of the story revolves around the desecration of resting places. The use of actual human remains brought a disturbingly authentic layer to the narrative, reinforcing the film’s commentary on the consequences of disrespecting the dead.
  • Special Effects Milestone: At the time, the film set a benchmark for special effects in horror cinema. The integration of real skeletons with practical effects work, such as lighting and mechanical rigs, created a seamless and unnerving experience that has been difficult to replicate even with modern CGI technology.

The choice to use real skeletons in Poltergeist was a bold move that contributed significantly to the film’s lasting impact, blending the lines between authenticity and special effects to create unforgettable cinematic moments.

The Poltergeist Curse

The phenomenon often referred to as the “Poltergeist curse” has intrigued both fans and skeptics alike, stemming from a series of tragic events that befell the cast members of the Poltergeist film series. Central to this narrative is the use of real human skeletons during the filming of the original 1982 movie, which some believe may have contributed to the subsequent misfortunes.

  • Key Tragedies Associated with the Curse:
    • Dominique Dunne: Played Dana Freeling; murdered in 1982.
    • Julian Beck: Played Reverend Henry Kane; died of stomach cancer in 1985.
    • Will Sampson: Played Taylor; died following a lung transplant in 1987.
    • Heather O’Rourke: Played Carol Anne Freeling; died of cardiac arrest caused by intestinal stenosis in 1988.

Despite these tragedies, the notion of a curse is met with scepticism by some involved in the production. Craig Reardon, a special effects artist for the film, has publicly dismissed the idea of a curse as “conceptually ridiculous” and “personally offensive,” highlighting the real human tragedies behind the rumours.

The “Poltergeist curse” remains a compelling aspect of the film’s legacy, blurring the lines between the film’s narrative and real-world events. It serves as a haunting reminder of the unpredictable nature of life and the lasting impact of cinema on popular culture.

Modern Filmmaking and Ethical Practices

In the realm of modern filmmaking, ethical considerations have taken a forefront, particularly concerning the use of real human remains. This shift towards ethical practices is not only a matter of respect for the deceased but also addresses the ongoing trauma experienced by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) communities. The repatriation of remains and sacred objects emerges as a crucial step for healing and decolonization, acknowledging the historical and cultural significance of these items to their communities.

  • Respect for Cultural Practices: The display of human remains, whether in museums or online platforms, should always align with the cultural practices and wishes of the communities they originate from. This respect extends to digitizing remains, such as posting images online, ensuring that digital representations do not violate cultural norms or sensitivities.
  • Healing and Decolonization:
    • Repatriation: Returning remains and sacred objects to their rightful communities can foster healing, allowing for proper respect and rituals to be observed.
    • Consultation: Engaging with BIPOC communities in the decision-making process ensures that actions taken are in line with their values and traditions.

Adapting these practices into the filmmaking process not only respects the dignity of all individuals but also sets a standard for future productions. By prioritizing ethical considerations and cultural sensitivity, the film industry can contribute to a more respectful and inclusive society.


Throughout this exploration of the The 1982 Movie Poltergeist Used Real Skeletons As – Tymoff and its ensnaring mix of genuine horror tied to the use of real human skeletons, we’ve delved into an array of focal points spanning authenticity in special effects, ethical filmmaking standards, and the haunting notion of a curse. The film’s lasting effect on audiences and its niche in horror cinema history is undeniably enriched by these elements, blending on-screen terror with behind-the-scenes controversies. This juxtaposition not only underscores the film’s impact but also propels a broader dialogue on the ethical considerations rooted within the entertainment industry.

As we step back, the broader implications of these discussions signal a shift towards more sensitive and ethical practices in filmmaking, reflecting a collective movement towards respecting human dignity and cultural traditions. This evolution, while sparked by historical instances like those highlighted by Poltergeist, serves as a catalyst for ongoing conversations about authenticity, respect, and the moral compass guiding modern cinema. Thus, the legacy of Poltergeist transcends its status as a hallmark of horror, serving as a pivotal reference point for evaluating ethical boundaries and the pursuit of authenticity in the arts.

FAQs About ‘The 1982 Movie Poltergeist Used Real Skeletons As – Tymoff”

  1. Q: Did the 1982 movie Poltergeist use real skeletons?

    • A: Yes, it’s true. The filmmakers opted to use real human skeletons in certain scenes of the movie to enhance its authenticity and realism.
  2. Q: Where did the real skeletons used in Poltergeist come from?

    • A: The skeletons were sourced from Carolina Biological, a medical and science supply company, and were originally from India. They were typically used as educational specimens before being repurposed for the film.
  3. Q: Were the cast and crew aware that real skeletons were being used during filming?

    • A: No, the use of real skeletons was not disclosed to the cast and crew during filming. This lack of transparency led to discomfort and unease among some members, especially upon learning the truth after production wrapped.
  4. Q: Were there any ethical concerns raised about the use of real skeletons in the movie?

    • A: Absolutely. The revelation sparked significant ethical debates within the film industry regarding the use of human remains for entertainment purposes, particularly without informed consent.
  5. Q: How did the use of real skeletons impact the legacy of Poltergeist?

    • A: The decision to use real skeletons added a layer of authenticity to the film’s horror elements, contributing to its lasting impact on audiences. However, it also raised ethical questions and controversies that continue to be discussed today.

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