Follow TV Tropes


Trivia / Poltergeist

Go To

  • AFI's 100 Years... Series:
  • Anonymous Author: A notorious Hollywood subject. The identity of the one true director of this film is one of the great Hollywood either-legends or barely-hidden-truths, depending on whom you ask and what you read. Many sources, in particular Zelda Rubinstein, have openly stated that Hooper was actually little more than a stand-in on the set, and the film was, for all intents and purposes, directed by Steven Spielberg. Harlan Ellison has denounced that story as "a rumor that time has proved to be utterly false and destructive to Hooper's reputation." Here is probably the best summary and explanation of the whole issue.
  • Advertisement:
  • Author Phobia: Both of the terrors that plague Robbie came from Steven Spielberg's own fears as a child, a fear of clowns and a tree outside his window.
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!: By way of Pop-Cultural Osmosis; the line is "This house is 'clean'" not "'clear,'" thank you, Mr. Ventura.
  • Cast the Expert: Zelda Rubinstein supposedly had genuine psychic ability, claiming to have visions of things before they happened.
  • Channel Hop: To an extent. MGM produced the trilogy and the remake. However, the first movie is currently owned by Warner Bros., due to Turner Entertainment's ownership of MGM's pre-May 1986 library, and WB's ownership of Turner Entertainment. The sequels remained with MGM, and are currently handled on home video by 20th Century Fox, who also distributed the remake. Shout Factory recently got the rights to release deluxe editions of the second and third films as well.
  • Completely Different Title:
    • Greece: The Spirit of Evil
    • Mexico: Devilish Games
    • Poland: Spirit
    • Turkey: Bad Soul
  • Dawson Casting: Dominique Dunne was a few years older than sixteen.
  • Deleted Role: Edward Ashley filmed a cameo as Dr Lesh's older and wiser colleague, who convinced her to bring in Tangina to handle the case. The scene was cut from the film.
  • Enforced Method Acting: Only one scene really scared Heather O'Rourke: that in which she had to hold onto the headboard, while a wind machine blew toys into the closet behind her. She fell apart; Steven Spielberg stopped everything, took her in his arms, and said that she would not have to do that scene again.
  • Fatal Method Acting: Averted. The scene with the clown nearly choked Oliver Robbins to death on the first take. Steven Spielberg initially thought he was still acting, but once he realized that something was wrong, he stopped everything and rushed over to save him. The next take had the clown prop not be as tight as before.
  • Advertisement:
  • Follow the Leader: The two major sources Poltergeist is routinely to be seen as following the lead on are: 1. The short story Little Girl Lost and the The Twilight Zone episode based upon it. This story containing a little girl who ended up in another dimension who could be heard but not seen. 2. The possible real life "Black Hope Curse" an alleged ghost story about how a community in Texas built over top of a cemetery had a rash of paranormal hauntings. Both connections have been admitted by various people as having held influence on the making of the film.
  • Hostility on the Set: Zelda Rubeinstein disliked Tobe Hooper, because she could tell he had a drug problem. She later remarked that he "couldn't direct traffic".
  • Reality Subtext: Dana Freeling was entirely absent from the second and third movies, and in fact not mentioned at all. Her actress, Dominique Dunne, was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 1982.
  • The Production Curse: A lot of inexplicable bad luck and ill-fortune dogged these films. Murmurs of an actual curse were not helped by the revelation that real corpses had been used in some scenes.
    • Dominique Dunne, who played Dana in the first movie, died in November 1982 at age 22, after being strangled by her abusive former boyfriend John Thomas Sweeney.
    • Julian Beck, 60,who played Henry Kane in Poltergeist II: The Other Side, died in September 14, 1985 of stomach cancer (diagnosed before he had accepted the role).
    • Will Sampson, 53, who played Taylor the medicine man in Poltergeist II, died as a result of post-operative kidney failure and pre-operative malnutrition problems in June 1987.
    • Heather O'Rourke, who played Carol Anne in all three Poltergeist movies, died in February 1988 at the age of 12 after a hospital misdiagnosis led her to be treated for the wrong ailment.
    • Actress Jo-Beth Williams claimed that during the filming, a poltergeist was active in her own home: she would return home from set to discover things askew and out of place from the way they had been when she left earlier.
  • Recycled: The Series: Poltergeist: The Legacy had little to do with any of the movies in the franchise.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Carol Anne was originally going to die in the first act and then haunt the house in the second. This was dropped for being far too dark.
    • Shirley MacLaine was offered a starring role in the film, but backed out in order to make Terms of Endearment.
    • Drew Barrymore was considered for the role of Carol Anne, but Steven Spielberg wanted someone more angelic. It was her audition for this role, however, that landed her a part in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.
    • Stephen King was briefly approached to write the screenplay. It would have been the first written by King directly for the screen, but the parties could not agree on the terms.


Example of: