Discovering the horrible truth: The 1982 movie Poltergeist used real skeletons

A sense of terror is created by Poltergeist’s imaginative storyline and artistic approach in 1982. As opposed to CGI (computer-generated images) or synthetic skeletons, human skeletons were used in this movie. It was also famous for some strange events that occurred with the cast during and after production. Human skeletons were used in the production of this movie:

There is a big controversy that the movie 1982 used real skeletons in their production and that caused much unease among the people. This movie is a production by Steven Spielberg and directed by Tobe Hooper. Poltergeist was an innovative film that captured the attention of its audiences with its chilling tale of a suburban family that was disturbed by some evil-minded spirits.

This movie was released during the times when there was an emerging interest in horror movies among the audiences and the release of this movie was a lot of fun and amusement for their audience but later when the news came out that real skeletons were used in this movie that creates much interest and unease among the audience. There was a scene in this movie when Jobeth Williams’s character, Diane Freeling falls in the pool and then suddenly skeletons start to pop out of the pool she was utterly terrified by the sudden appearance of skeletons, and later on in an interview, she said that she was unaware of the fact the real skeletons were used in this movie because after the shoot was done she was told that those were not rubber skeletons those were real skeletons. This was a nightmare for anyone. She also added that if she was aware that those were real skeletons it was much more difficult for her to act around them because it is a fact that anyone becomes terrified around real human skeletons. The use of real skeletons in the pool scene added a horror element to the movie. However, the decision to use real skeletons instead of rubber ones was also haunting for the filmmakers, and that caused a debate among the audience and the industry that continues to reverberate till now.

The Making of Poltergeist

This movie is a story in which a family lives peacefully unless their house becomes the focus of some supernatural forces or evil-minded spirits. As the disturbances increase, the family’s youngest daughter, Carol Anne, is trapped by the spirits through a portal in the closet of her bedroom. First, the spirits communicate with the family through the television set and don’t cause much disturbance but eventually, their evil nature comes out and they begin to cause disturbance. This movie creates an atmosphere of terror and close attention to the minor details used in this movie creates a sense of horror among the audience. Practical effects are being used by the filmmakers whenever possible to create a sense of horror because the movie demands such practical effects as it was a horror movie. The choice of using such practical effects improves the overall beauty of this movie and adds a lasting impression on the audience till now. But what was very disturbing for the audience was the use of real skeletons that added much intrigue among the people and even the cast.

Strange events that occurred in real

Many strange events occurred in real life that also created a sense of horror among the audience. Many members of the cast died in real life due to some strange events. In 1982, the member of the cast, Dominique Dunne, who played the role of the older sister was

murdered by her boyfriend. Heather O’Rourke who was just twelve years old died from an illness that was misdiagnosed till now. In 1985, Julian Beck died of stomach cancer, who played the role of an evil-minded spirit.

These events create an atmosphere of horror and suspense among the viewers, maybe it was all a coincidence, but these events added a lasting impression to this movie. Many people started to say it was a curse on the cast as they disrespected the human remains.

Uncovering The Controversy

The 1982 movie Poltergeist uses real human skeletons that were purchased from the medical supplier companies due the budget problems, so these real skeletons are being used in some sequences mainly the creepy pool scene. These filmmakers had to make this choice because of the financial problems, to create a realness in the movie and to enhance its horror aspects.

Poltergeist creates a sense of horror

There was a common practice of using artificial or replicas whenever they had to use skeletons in any movie but in this movie, real skeletons were used, and that created some

moral and ethical concerns among the people. Both the audience and the critics were terrified and shocked when they came to know that real skeletons were being used in some sequence of this movie, even some people said that this was an insult to the deceased and their family. Also, some strange events happened on the set, and the deaths of some premature cast added to a sense of horror among the people, and they began to say that this was a curse of some supernatural forces related to this movie.

Industry Standards and Ethical Considerations

The movie Poltergeists using real skeletons is considered as the breaking of rules and regulations because human remains are not fun to use for entertainment purposes. Human skeletons for medical and educational purposes are allowed for study purposes, but this is strictly forbidden to use them for entertainment purposes. When this information came out publicly the audience began to criticize the filmmakers because it is considered disrespectful to human skeletons, and no one should be allowed to use human remains for artistic purposes and the sake of entertainment purposes.

After the movie Poltergeist subsequent films and movies came out and when they are in need to use skeletons, they strictly forbade the use of human skeletons in response to the rising controversies of the movie Poltergeist. The CGI (computer-generated images) or synthetic skeletons in their movie scenes are being used to avoid controversies that arose at the time of the movie Poltergeist. This change highlights the emerging recognition of the industry that they maintain a balance between artistic vision, ethical concerns, and respect for the deceased people as making fun of the deceased or the human skeleton is not allowed.

Legacy and Impact

In the horror genre, poltergeist is still regarded as the most important film because despite using human remains, it is still considered the greatest invention of filmmakers because of its extraordinarily fantastic story and receives so much attention from the audience due to the imaginative storyline. The use of real skeletons is so surprising for everyone that it is still discussed by many filmmakers, the fans of this movie, and the academics. This movie creates an impact and after this movie, all filmmakers acknowledge the fact that the use of such things as fun is strictly prohibited, and this movie sets ethical boundaries and creates a long-lasting impression on their viewers about their artistic choices and their imaginative storyline.


The controversy and debate that is still going on regarding the movie Poltergeist about the use of real skeletons in their setup creates a long-lasting impression in history and is still

famous even today. The decision to use human remains is taken after much thinking of the artist, knowing the detail that this can create much unease among the people and resultantly this creates moral and ethical concerns among the people. As the industry is now slowly changing, this movie creates a lasting impression of the value of openness, decency, and ethics in the techniques of filmmaking. In the end, the imaginative and frightening storyline of this movie forces both the audience and the filmmakers to think about their artistic approach to filmmaking.

Poltergeist is a chilling reminder in this constantly changing world that the ability to use such scenes that create a throbbing impact on viewers is really an artistic approach and watching this movie creates a strong feeling of terror among the people and those people who enjoy horror movies, and such content are amazed by the artwork of this movie. Such people when they came to know about the legacy of this movie, it also aroused a sense of horror in them. This movie was a masterpiece of its time.

Faisal Ur Rehman
Faisal Ur Rehman is the content editor of and Search Engine Optimization Team Lead for Carrollton, Texas-based Blue Box Packaging.

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