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|Created by||Steven Spielberg|
|Films and television|
Poltergeist is an American horror film series distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer during the 1980s. The original trilogy revolves around the members of the Freeling family, who are stalked and terrorized by a group of ghosts, led by a demon known as the Beast, that are attracted to the youngest daughter, Carol Anne. The original film was co-written and produced by Steven Spielberg. The Poltergeist films collected a total of approximately $132 million at the United States box office.
Poltergeist is the original film in the trilogy, directed by Tobe Hooper, co-written by Steven Spielberg and released on June 4, 1982. The story focuses on the Freeling family, which consists of parents Steve (Craig T. Nelson) and Diane (JoBeth Williams); teenage daughter Dana (Dominique Dunne); eight-year-old Robbie (Oliver Robins); and 5-year-old Carol Anne (Heather O'Rourke), who live Cuesta Verde, a California housing development which comes to be haunted by ghosts. The apparitions, under the control of a demon known as the "Beast", communicate through the family's television set and can only be heard by Carol Anne. Attracted to her life force and believing she will help lead them into the "Light", the specters abduct Carol Anne through her bedroom closet, which acts as a portal to their dimension. Much of the film involves the family's efforts to rescue their daughter, aided by a group of parapsychologists (Beatrice Straight, Martin Casella, Richard Lawson) and Tangina Barrons (Zelda Rubinstein), a spiritual medium. 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 beneath the neighborhood, the Freelings flee Cuesta Verde just before the house implodes and disappears into another dimension.
Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986)
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 in anticipation of the end of the world, had sealed themselves in a cavern 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.
Poltergeist III (1988)
The final film in the original trilogy, Poltergeist III, directed and co-written by Gary Sherman, was released on June 10, 1988. In order to protect Carol Anne, the Freelings have sent her to live temporarily in a Chicago skyscraper with skeptic relatives Pat and Bruce Gardner (Nancy Allen and Tom Skerritt) and their daughter Donna (Lara Flynn Boyle). However, Carol Anne's recollection of her experiences during psychiatric sessions enables Kane and his followers to locate her and make contact through the building's ubiquitous mirrors. After the ghosts abduct Carol Anne and then Donna, her boyfriend Scott (Kipley Wentz), Pat, and Bruce enlist the help of Tangina to rescue them; Tangina eventually escorts Kane into the spectral Light, sacrificing herself to save the family.
The reboot of the series, Poltergeist, was directed by Gil Kenan and released on May 22, 2015. It centers on a family struggling to make ends meet who relocate to a suburban home and like the original, the youngest daughter is kidnapped by spirits that possess the house. Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt star as the married couple, Kennedi Clements plays the daughter, and Jared Harris plays the host of a paranormal-themed TV show who comes to the aid of the family.
Poltergeist: The Legacy (1996–1999)
Cast and crew
The following table shows the cast members who played the primary characters in the film series.
The Other Side
|Carol Anne Freeling||Heather O'Rourke|
|Steve Freeling||Craig T. Nelson|
|Diane Freeling||JoBeth Williams|
|Dana Freeling||Dominique Dunne|
|Robbie Freeling||Oliver Robins|
|Dr. Martha Lesh||Beatrice Straight|
|Ryan Mitchell||Richard Lawson|
|Dr. Marty Casey||Martin Casella|
|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"||Julian Beck
Noble Craig (Vomit Creature)1
Corey Burton (Voiced)2
|Madison Bowen||Kennedi Clements|
|Eric Bowen||Sam Rockwell|
|Amy Bowen||Rosemarie DeWitt|
|Griffin Bowen||Kyle Catlett|
|Kendra Bowen||Saxon Sharbino|
|Carrigan Burke||Jared Harris|
|Dr. Brooke Powell||Jane Adams|
Box office performance
|Film||Release date (US)||Budget||Box office revenue||Reference|
|Poltergeist (1982)||June 4, 1982||$10.7 million||$76,606,280||$45,099,739||$121,706,019|||
|Poltergeist II: The Other Side||May 23, 1986||$19 million||$40,996,665||N/A||$40,996,665|||
|Poltergeist III||June 10, 1988||$9.5 million||$14,114,488||N/A||$14,114,488|||
|Poltergeist (2015)||May 22, 2015||$35 million||$47,425,125||$48,210,406||$95,635,531|||
Critical and public response
|Poltergeist (1982)||86% (59 reviews)||79 (7 reviews)|
|Poltergeist II: The Other Side||37% (19 reviews)||N/A|
|Poltergeist III||17% (18 reviews)||N/A|
|Poltergeist (2015)||31% (128 reviews)||47 (27 reviews)|
The "Poltergeist curse" is a rumored curse attached to the Poltergeist trilogy and its crew, derived from the deaths of two young cast members in the six years between the releases of the first and third films. The rumor and the surrounding deaths were explored in a 2002 episode of E! True Hollywood Story titled "Curse of Poltergeist".
- Dominique Dunne, who played the eldest daughter Dana in the first film, died on November 4, 1982, at age 22 after being strangled by her ex-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. This was her only motion picture appearance before her death.
- Heather O'Rourke, who played Carol Anne in all three Poltergeist films, died on February 1, 1988 at the age of 12 due to complications from an acute bowel obstruction.
The Curse of Poltergeist, a documentary film based on the mystery of the franchise, was set to begin shooting in November 2015. The upcoming film will be directed by Adam Ripp and will be financed and produced by his company Vega Baby, alongside Indonesia-based MD Pictures. The documentary will focus on the life and experiences of actor Oliver Robins, who played Robbie Freeling in the first and second installments of the franchise, as a way to explore the tragedies that have befallen those involved with the films.
- "MGM, Fox 2000 To Co-Finance & Distribute ‘Poltergeist’; Production To Start This Fall". Deadline Hollywood. June 20, 2013.
- Hipes, Patrick. "Rosemarie DeWitt Chimes In For 'La La Land'". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media, LLC. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
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- 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.
- Mackie, Drew (May 20, 2015). "20 Things You Might Not Know About the Original Poltergeist Trilogy". People. Archived from the original on May 21, 2015. Retrieved May 21, 2015.
- "Interview with the Voice of Kane". PoltergeistIII.com. Retrieved 27 February 2011.
- "Box Office History for Poltergeist Movies". The-Numbers. Nash Information Services. Retrieved 26 February 2011.
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- "Poltergeist (1982)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved May 21, 2015.
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- "Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved May 31, 2013.
- "Poltergeist III (1988)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved May 22, 2015.
- "Poltergeist (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved May 22, 2015.
- "Poltergeist Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved May 26, 2015.
- Mikkelson, Barbara. "Poltergeist Deaths", Snopes.com, August 17, 2007
- "Documentary to Explore 'Poltergeist' Movie Curse". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2017-08-14.
- "Dominique Dunne, Actress, Dies After Being Choked", The New York Times, November 5, 1982
- Baker, Bob (May 26, 1988). "Suit Blames Doctors in Death of Young Actress". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California, US: Tribune Company. p. 35. ISSN 0458-3035. OCLC 3638237. Retrieved August 7, 2008.
- "Heather O'Rourke, 12; Starred in 'Poltergeist'". The New York Times. February 3, 1988. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
- Folkart, Burt A. (February 2, 1988). "'Poltergeist' Star Heather O'Rourke Dies at Age of 12". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California, US: Tribune Company. p. 3. ISSN 0458-3035. OCLC 3638237. Archived from the original on November 5, 2012. Retrieved May 17, 2011.
- Mia Galuppo (October 7, 2015). "Documentary to Explore 'Poltergeist' Movie Curse". The Hollywood Reporter. (Prometheus Global Media). Retrieved October 8, 2015.