in 1982, Steven Spielberg introduced America to a family whose home is haunted by a host of ghosts.
Strange events begin to occur when Carol Anne (Heather O’ Rourke) begins sleepwalking and carries on a seemingly one-sided conversation with a TV set that’s turned on but has no signal. Later that night, Carol Anne awakens again and talks to the television, while an entity erupts from the television screen and enters the walls, causing an earthquake that only the Freelings feel. As the family wakes up, Carol Anne mysteriously announces, “They’re here.”
Poltergeist will forever be associated with that phrase and the innocent doe-eyed little girl that uttered those words. Unfortunately, we would never hear those words from Heather O’Rourke ever again as during the filming of Poltergeist III, she suffered flu-like symptoms. The symptoms were a result of congenital intestinal stenosis (blockage), which ultimately claimed her life at the tender age of 13.
The film grossed 122 million worldwide and has become a staple of one of the scariest horror films EVER!
Here’s a few key facts you may NOT know…
- Shirley MacLaine was offered a starring role in the film, but backed out in order to make Terms of Endearment.
- Time magazine and Newsweek tagged the Summer of 1982 as “The Spielberg Summer” because Poltergeist and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial were released a week apart from one another in June.
- During all the horrors that preceded while filming Poltergeist (1982), only one scene really scared Heather O’Rourke: that in which she had to hold onto the headboard, while a wind machine blew toys into the closet behind her. She fell apart; Steven Spielberg stopped everything, took her in his arms, and said that she would not have to do that scene again.
- The production crew used real human skeletons because it was cheaper to purchase them instead of plastic ones.
- Heather O’Rourke was chosen for the film when she was eating lunch with her mother and sister at an MGM commissary. Steven Spielberg came up to them and wanted O’Rourke for the part of Carol Anne. She initially failed the screen test because she kept laughing her way through the audition, even when she was supposed to be afraid. Spielberg thought she was too young to take the part seriously, but he still recognized something special in her, so he asked her to come back for another audition, and this time, bring a scary storybook with her. He also asked her to scream, so she screamed and screamed until she started crying. This audition got her cast as Carol Anne.