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The Crazy Story Behind the Real Skeleton Used in POLTERGEIST

I’m sure most of you have heard the story that the skeleton used in the finale of the movie is real. Most people I talked to dismissed this story as just a rumor, but it’s not a rumor; This story about real human skeletons being used in the movie is 100% true!  Special Effects artist Craig Reardon even revealed  details of the skeleton he swore against during  deposition. 

There are a lot of people who don’t know the story behind the skeleton in director Tobe Hooper and producer Steven Spielberg’s movie Poltergeist, so I thought I’d share it with you! 

In the skeleton scene, JoBeth Williams’ character, Diane Freeling, falls into the pool  and a skeleton starts jumping out of the water around her and she’s really scared! No joke, this scene comes to my mind every time I swim in the pool! 

The reason  real skeletons were used in the movie  was that they were actually cheaper  than building and using plastic imitations. 

JoBeth Williams was only told after filming had finished that  real skeletons were being used. In a December 2002 interview with entertainment network VH1, Williams said: 

Williams continued and expanded on this in an exclusive interview on  TV Land  TV Land: Myths & Legends  in 2008. He said: 

This is incredibly creepy! It’s crazy how no one told anyone before they started shooting! But it was the 80s, and in the 80s people could get away with all kinds of weirdness! Williams also stated that the use of these bones caused so much confusion around  Poltergeist  that it led to the creation of the sequel, Poltergeist II: The Other Side. He added that collaborator Will Sampson, a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, performed an “exorcism” in the  film. 

About how the skeleton ended up in the movie: In 1982, special effects  artist Craig Reardon was fired as part of a lawsuit  against Spielberg and screenwriters Paul Clemens and Bennett Michael Yellin. They said Amblin’s agent worked as a “ghost writer,” taking certain parts of the script and pitching them as his ideas to a group of Poltergeist investors. In Clemens and Yellin’s case, it was claimed that there was a “67 point” similarity between Spielberg’s film  and theirs. During the statement, Reardon said: 

I do not know where this skeleton is now. I tried to find out but couldn’t find any details about it. Maybe they’re in the front house? Maybe they’re in a dormitory somewhere? I don’t know, but I always thought this story was crazy.



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