Poltergeist (film series)
The Poltergeist movies are a trilogy of American horror films distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer during the 1980s. The films revolve around the members of the Freeling family, who are stalked and terrorized by a group of ancient ghosts that are attracted to the youngest daughter, Carol Anne. The original film was co-written by Steven Spielberg. The Poltergeist films collected a total of approximately $132 million in the United States box office.
|Poltergeist (1982)||Tobe Hooper||Michael Grais, Mark Victor, Steven Spielberg||Frank Marshall and Steven Spielberg|
|Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986)||Brian Gibson||Michael Grais and Mark Victor|
|Poltergeist III (1988)||Gary Sherman||Gary Sherman and Brian Taggert||Barry Bernardi|
Poltergeist is the original film in the trilogy, directed by Tobe Hooper and co-written by Steven Spielberg and released on June 4, 1982. The story focuses on the Freeling family, which consists of Steven (Craig T. Nelson); Diane (JoBeth Williams); Dana (Dominique Dunne); Robbie (Oliver Robins); and Carol Anne (Heather O'Rourke), who live in a California housing development called Cuesta Verde. Their home is eventually invaded by ghosts. The ghosts communicate only with Carol Anne through the family's television set, and are under the control of a demon known as the "Beast." The ghosts, attracted to Carol Anne's life force and believing she will help lead them into the "Light", abduct her through her bedroom closet, which acts as a portal to their dimension. Most of the film involves the efforts to rescue her on the part of her family, a group of parapsychologists and a spiritual medium named Tangina Barrons (Zelda Rubinstein). Carol Anne is eventually retrieved from the other side and, following a second attack by the Beast that reveals the ghosts had originated from an improperly relocated cemetery underneath the neighborhood, the family flees Cuesta Verde, while the house caves in on itself and is sucked into another dimension.
The first sequel Poltergeist II: The Other Side, directed by Brian Gibson and released on May 23, 1986, is set a year following the events in Poltergeist and offers an alternate explanation of the ghosts' origin. The film also develops the identity and backstory of the Beast, who had lived during the 19th century as a religious zealot named Reverend Henry Kane (Julian Beck). Kane was the leader of a utopian cult, who had sealed themselves in an underground cavern in anticipation of the end of the world, located directly below what later became the Freelings' property. Kane is anxious to possess Carol Anne in order to continue manipulating his followers after death. The ghosts follow and attack the Freelings at their current household. Aided by an American Indian shaman named Taylor (Will Sampson), the Freelings manage to escape from Kane and his followers a second time.
The final film, Poltergeist III, was directed and co-written by Gary Sherman and released June 10, 1988. In order to protect Carol Anne, the Freelings have sent her to temporarily live with her skeptic relatives, Pat and Bruce Gardner (Nancy Allen and Tom Skerritt) and their daughter Donna (Lara Flynn Boyle), who reside in a Chicago skyscraper. However, Carol Anne's recollection of her experiences during her psychiatric sessions enable Kane and his followers to locate her and make contact through the building's ubiquitous mirrors. After the ghosts abduct Carol Anne, Donna, and her boyfriend Scott (Kipley Wentz), Pat and Bruce enlist the help of Tangina to retrieve them, who eventually sacrifices herself to save the family by escorting Kane into the Light.
Box office performance
|Film||Release date (US)||Budget||Box office revenue||Reference|
|Poltergeist||June 4, 1982||$10,700,000||$76,606,280||$45,099,739||$121,706,019|
|Poltergeist II: The Other Side||May 23, 1986||$19,000,000||$40,996,665||N/A||$40,996,665|
|Poltergeist III||June 10, 1988||$9,500,000||$14,114,488||N/A||$14,114,488|
|Poltergeist||87% (53 reviews)|
|Poltergeist II: The Other Side||39% (18 reviews)|
|Poltergeist III||13% (15 reviews)|
The following table shows the cast members who played the primary characters in the film series.
|Poltergeist||Poltergeist II: The Other Side||Poltergeist III|
|Carol Anne Freeling||Heather O'Rourke|
|Steven Freeling||Craig T. Nelson|
|Diane Freeling||JoBeth Williams|
|Dana Freeling||Dominique Dunne|
|Robert Freeling||Oliver Robins|
|Dr. Lesh||Beatrice Straight|
|Dr. Marty Casey||Martin Casaella|
|Tangina Barrons||Zelda Rubinstein|
|Jessica Wilson||Geraldine Fitzgerald|
|Bruce Gardner||Tom Skerritt|
|Pat Wilson-Gardner||Nancy Allen|
|Donna Gardner||Lara Flynn Boyle|
|Dr. Seaton||Richard Fire|
|Reverend Henry Kane / "The Beast"||(Mentioned only)||Julian Beck
Nobel Craig (Vomit Creature)1
Corey Burton (Voiced)2
The Poltergeist curse
The "Poltergeist curse" is a rumor of a supposed curse attached to the Poltergeist trilogy and its crew, derived from the fact that four cast members died in the six years between the releases of the first and third films. The rumor is often fueled by the fact that real skeletons were used as props in various scenes of Poltergeist and Poltergeist II. The rumor and the surrounding deaths were explored in a 2002 episode of E! True Hollywood Story entitled "Curse of Poltergeist".
- Dominique Dunne, who played the eldest daughter Dana in the first movie, died on November 4, 1982, at age 22 after being strangled by her abusive former boyfriend John Thomas Sweeney. He was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to six years in prison, but was paroled after serving three and a half years.
- Julian Beck, 60-year-old actor who played Henry Kane in Poltergeist II: The Other Side, died on September 14, 1985, of stomach cancer diagnosed before he had accepted the role.
- Will Sampson, 53 years old, who played Taylor the medicine man in Poltergeist II, died as a result of post-operative kidney failure and pre-operative malnutrition problems on June 3, 1987.
- Heather O'Rourke, who played Carol Anne in all three Poltergeist movies, died on February 1, 1988 at the age of 12 after what doctors initially described as an acute form of influenza but later changed to septic shock after bacterial toxins invaded her bloodstream. At the time, she had suffered acute bowel obstruction, initially diagnosed as Crohn's disease, which may have been the cause of death.
- Lee, Joseph (4 September 2008). "A Bloody Good Time 9.04.08: Poltergeist Franchise Breakdown". 411mania.com. Retrieved 26 February 2011.
- Kelhoffrr, Josh (23 June 2010). "They’re Back: The Story of the Inevitable Sequel". Poltergeist Online.
- Kelhoffrr, Josh (23 June 2010). "Spirits in the City: The Third and Final Sequel". Poltergeist Online.
- "Box Office History for Poltergeist Movies". The-Numbers. Nash Information Services. Retrieved 26 February 2011.
- "Poltergeist – Rotten Tomatoes". Flixster. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 31, 2013.
- "Poltergeist II: The Other Side – Rotten Tomatoes". Flixster. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 31, 2013.
- "Poltergeist III – Rotten Tomatoes". Flixster. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 31, 2013.
- "Interview with the Voice of Kane". PoltergeistIII.com. Retrieved 27 February 2011.
- Mikkelson, Barbara. "Poltergeist Deaths", Snopes.com, August 17, 2007
- "Poltergeist & The Poltergeist Curse". Paranormal Entertainment. 26 December 2010. Retrieved 26 February 2011.
- "Dominique Dunne, Actress, Dies After Being Choked", The New York Times, November 5, 1982
- S. Freedman, "Julien Beck, 60, is Dead; Founded Living Theater", The New York Times, September 17, 1985
- B. Folkart, "Role in Cuckoo's Nest; Will Sampson, Gentle Indian Giant, Dies," Los Angeles Times, June 4, 1987
- "Heather O'Rourke, 12, Dies, San Diego Actress", The San Diego Union-Tribune, February 2, 1988
- B. Folkart, "Poltergeist Star Heather O'Rourke Dies at Age of 12", Los Angeles Times, February 3, 1988
- Poltergeist at the Internet Movie Database
- Poltergeist II: The Other Side at the Internet Movie Database
- Poltergeist III at the Internet Movie Database
- Poltergeist Online