The clown that Robbie encounters came from Steven Spielberg’s two greatest fears as a child, a fear of clowns and an old tree outside his window.
The production crew used real human skeletons because they were cheaper than the plastic ones.
Craig T. Nelson reprised the role of Steve Freeling for a DirecTV commercial with Heather O’Rourke. Heather’s family were pleased with the ad for its help in keeping her memory alive.
Poltergeist was the earliest film to discuss E.V.P. (Electronic Voice Phenomenon)
The film was originally given a R rating, but the filmmakers protested successfully and got a PG rating. The PG-13 rating did not exist at the time.
Heather O’Rourke, who played the little girl Carol-Anne, and Dominique Dunne, who played the teenage daughter, both passed away. Dunne was strangled to death by her boyfriend in 1982, the year of the film’s release. Six years later, O’Rourke died of intestinal stenosis.
The house used to film this movie is located in Simi Valley. The family who owned it when Poltergeist was filmed still live there today.
The swirling, flickering lights coming from the closet during the rescue scene were achieved using a very simple effect by having an aquarium full of water in front of a spotlight. Then a fan blew on the surface of the water to make it swirl.
Poltergeist was filmed on the same street as E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial because Steven Spielberg made the two films concurrently. Principal photography on E.T. started less than 2 weeks after Polgergeist ended.
Drew Barrymore was considered for the role of Carol Anne, but Steven Spielberg wanted someone more angelic. It was Barrymore’s audition for this role, however, that landed her a part in E.T.
During all the horrors that proceeded while filming Poltergeist, only one scene really scared Heather O’Rourke. It was the scene in which she had to hold onto the headboard while a wind machine blew toys into the closet behind her. The poor girl fell apart. Steven Spielberg stopped everything, took her in his arms, and said that she would never have to do that scene again.
That hands which pull the flesh off the investigators face in the bathroom mirror are Steven Spielberg’s.
Zelda Rubinstein had genuine psychic ability. She often had visions of things before they happened.
The word “poltergeist” is German for noisy ghost.
The shot of the chairs that position themselves in the amazing balancing act on the table was all done in one take. As the camera panned along with JoBeth Williams, who was getting some cleaning materials, several crew members quickly shot in and set the chairs before the camera scrolled back.
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