the 1982 movie poltergeist used real skeletons


The 1982 horror film Poltergeist is a classic of the genre, and one of the most memorable scenes in the film features JoBeth Williams’s character, Diane, falling into a pool filled with skeletons. What many people don’t know is that the skeletons in this scene were actually real.


The 1982 movie Poltergeist is renowned as one of the most iconic horror films in cinema history. It captivated audiences with its spine-tingling plot, eerie atmosphere, and unforgettable special effects. However, what many might not know is that behind the scenes, this classic horror flick had a shocking secret. It’s believed that real human skeletons were used during the filming of Poltergeist, raising ethical questions and sparking widespread controversy. In this bone-chilling article, we will delve into the dark history of the film and explore the truth behind the use of real skeletons. Brace yourself for a journey through the supernatural, the mysterious, and the macabre.

The Making of Poltergeist: Unearthing the Truth

The production of Poltergeist was fraught with unexpected twists and turns. While filming the chilling scenes that brought the haunting tale to life, director Tobe Hooper and producer Steven Spielberg allegedly made a fateful decision to use authentic human skeletons instead of artificial props for certain eerie sequences. This bold choice was meant to add an extra layer of realism to the film, but little did they know the haunting implications it would have on the movie’s legacy.

The Bone Collector: Sourcing Real Skeletons

To achieve the desired authenticity, the filmmakers sought out real human skeletons from various sources, including medical institutions and overseas markets. These authentic remains were acquired through legal channels, but their use in a Hollywood production was unprecedented and would prove to be a significant point of contention.

The Ethical Dilemma: Disturbing the Dead

While the filmmakers’ intention might have been to create a terrifying masterpiece, the use of real human skeletons raised ethical concerns within the film industry and beyond. Some argued that it was disrespectful to the deceased and their families, as the skeletons were once real people who deserved dignity even in death. Others were disturbed by the idea of employing remains for entertainment purposes.

The Curse of Poltergeist: Is There a Connection?

As rumors of the real skeletons spread, so did tales of a curse haunting the cast and crew of Poltergeist. Reports of strange occurrences on set, unfortunate accidents, and untimely deaths fueled speculation that the use of real skeletons had invited supernatural consequences. While some dismissed these stories as mere superstition, others couldn’t help but wonder if there was a sinister force at play.

The Horror Industry’s Awakening: Changes and Regulations

The revelation about Poltergeist’s real skeletons sent shockwaves through the film industry, prompting a reevaluation of ethics and practices. As a result, regulations and guidelines were put in place to ensure the respectful treatment of human remains in future film productions. The horror genre, in particular, faced scrutiny, leading to a greater awareness of ethical responsibilities.

Unearthing Hollywood Secrets: Other Movies with Real Skeletons?

Poltergeist’s unsettling revelation prompted movie enthusiasts and investigators to dig deeper into Hollywood’s history. Shockingly, there were other instances where real human skeletons were used in films. This discovery shed light on an eerie and lesser-known aspect of the film industry’s past practices.

The Impact on Horror Cinema: A Genre Forever Changed

The use of real skeletons in Poltergeist left a lasting impact on the horror film genre. Filmmakers and audiences alike began to question the boundaries between fiction and reality, leading to a shift in the way horror movies were produced and perceived. The line between authentic terror and exploitation became clearer, prompting filmmakers to find alternative ways to terrify audiences without crossing ethical boundaries.

Unveiling the Supernatural: The Haunting Scenes

The scenes in Poltergeist that allegedly featured real skeletons were some of the most haunting and memorable moments in the film. From the iconic swimming pool scene to the eerie skeletons emerging from the muddy pit, these spine-chilling sequences continue to haunt viewers to this day.

The Macabre Mystery: Skeletal Speculations

Despite the controversy surrounding the use of real skeletons in Poltergeist, there remain some mysteries and unanswered questions. One such question is whether the use of these authentic remains truly enhanced the movie’s impact or if it was an unnecessary and ethically questionable choice. Delving into these speculations brings us closer to understanding the motivation behind this eerie decision.

The Legal Dimension: Was it Legal to Use Real Skeletons?

Legally speaking, the use of real human skeletons in Poltergeist was deemed permissible, as the remains were obtained through legal channels. However, the ethical implications persisted, and the question of legality raised further debates on whether certain practices should be banned or restricted, even if they were within the bounds of the law.

The Real Faces Behind the Scenes: Unearthing the Crew

While the use of real skeletons in Poltergeist garnered significant attention, it’s important not to overlook the talented crew who worked tirelessly to bring this cinematic masterpiece to life. From the visionary director to the dedicated special effects team, each individual played a crucial role in creating the spine-chilling atmosphere that left audiences trembling in fear.

The Legacy of Poltergeist: Cult Classic or Controversial Artifact?

Decades after its release, Poltergeist continues to be celebrated as a cult classic by horror enthusiasts. However, the revelation of the real skeletons has also led to the film being viewed through a more critical lens. The debate over whether it remains an iconic work of cinematic horror or a controversial artifact of Hollywood’s past rages on.


Q: Were real human skeletons really used in the making of Poltergeist? A: Yes, it is believed that real human skeletons were used during specific scenes in the 1982 movie Poltergeist.

Q: Where did the filmmakers acquire the real skeletons? A: The filmmakers sourced real human skeletons from various legal channels, including medical institutions and overseas markets.

Q: Did the use of real skeletons lead to any consequences for the film’s production? A: While there were no immediate consequences during production, the film’s legacy was impacted by the revelation, and it sparked ethical debates within the industry.

Q: Was the use of real skeletons legal in the context of filmmaking? A: Yes, the use of real human skeletons in Poltergeist was legally permissible as the remains were obtained through legal means.

Q: Did the revelation of real skeletons contribute to a curse associated with the film? A: The idea of a curse associated with the film remains a subject of debate and superstition, with some believing there might be a connection.

Q: Did the use of real skeletons change the way horror films were made afterward? A: Yes, the revelation prompted the film industry to reevaluate ethical practices, leading to changes in horror film production.


Poltergeist’s use of real skeletons remains a chilling piece of Hollywood history that has left an indelible mark on the horror film industry. While it added a layer of realism to the movie, it also stirred a cauldron of ethical debates and unearthed stories of eerie

By james

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