2. The actress who played little Carol Anne in the entire series died in 1988 at the age of 12 – the cause is a little murky. 12-year-old Heather O'Rourke died of septic shock on 1 February 1988 at the Children's Hospital in San Diego. What had been thought to be a bout of ordinary flu launched her into cardiac arrest during the drive to the local hospital as bacterial toxins set loose by a bowel obstruction made their way into her bloodstream. Her heart was successfully restarted and she was flown by helicopter to the much-larger Children's Hospital where she underwent an operation to remove the obstruction. The toxins rampaging through her system proved too much, and she died on the operating table. The circumstances surrounding her passing rendered her death even more of a shock than it otherwise would have been, as she went overnight from a little girl who had the flu to a dead little girl who expired during a desperate operation to save her life. It's hard enough to accept that a child can die of an illness, let alone a healthy-looking youngster no one knew anything was wrong with. (That she looked healthy did not necessarily mean that she was. The year before her death she'd been diagnosed as having Crohn's Disease, a lifelong inflammatory small bowel disease which often first manifests in children and young adults.) Of course such an unexpected death would fuel rumors, especially when considered in conjunction with Dominique Dunne's murder only six years earlier.
5. Louis "Lou" Perryman, actor who played Pugsley in the first movie, was murdered at the age of 68 in his Austin, Texas home in April, 2009, by Seth Christopher Tatum (the two did not know each other.) Tatum stabbed Perryman several times with a sharp object (possibly an ax) and then stole his car to flee from police due to an unrelated aggravated assault charge.
6. While writing the novelization of the screenplay, author James Kahn told People magazine that seconds after he wrote the line "Lightning ripped open the sky", the building was struck by lightning and all the arcade games in the lounge began playing themselves.
7. The "Freeling" home in Southern California where the original film was partially shot was damaged by the Northridge earthquake in 1994.
8. During a photo session for Poltergeist III, it was discovered that one photo of co-star Zelda Rubenstein had shining light obstructing the view of her face. Rubenstein claims the photo in question was taken at the moment her real-life mother died.
9. Also during the making of Poltergeist III, a movie set of a parking garage was completely engulfed by fire during shooting of a fire scene...only one crew member made it without a scratch.
Other trivia not related (maybe?) with the curse:
- In 2002, on an episode of VH1's I Love the '80s, JoBeth Williams revealed that the production used real skeletons when filming the swimming pool scene. Many of the people on the set were alarmed by this and led others to believe the "curse" on the film series was because of this use. Craig Reardon, a special effects artist who worked on the film, commented at the time that it was cheaper to purchase real skeletons than plastic ones as the plastic ones involved labor in making them. Williams wasn't afraid of the prop skeletons, but she was nervous working in water around so many electrically-powered lights. Producer Spielberg comforted her by being in the water during her scenes, claiming that if a light fell into the pool, they'd both be killed.
- Like in Texas Chainsaw, director Tobe Hooper had some real-life inspiration: a previous encounter with a poltergeist. When he was a teen, his father passed away. For weeks afterward Hooper says random dishes would fly of their own accord around the house.
- During the scene when one of the researchers hallucinates tearing his face off in the mirror, Steven Spielberg's hands were used to claw the flesh off the dummy. The actor who played the part, Martin Casella, was Spielberg's assistant on Raiders of the Lost Ark and also served as a PA on Robert Zemeckis' film Used Cars, on which Spielberg served as executive producer.
- Look close at the kids’ rooms – they’re packed with Star Wars toys.
- Drew Barrymore audtioned for the Carol Anne part.
- Steven Spielberg and I have something in common: a fear of clowns. In the movie, both of Robbie’s fears – the clown and the tree outside of his room – are things Steven was scared of as a child.
- Apparently the MGM lion roar is the same roaring noise the Beast makes when it attacks the house at the end of the movie. I’m going to have to go pull out my copy of Poltergeist and check that one out.
- When JoBeth Williams is in the kitchen cleaning, turns to get some more supplies, and then turns back around to find the chairs stacked up on the table – that was all done in one smooth shot. While the camera is following her over to her cleaning supplies, crew members quickly removed the single chairs and set an already-constructed stack on top of the table. IMDB says if you watch the toaster on the counter while JoBeth is assembling her cleaning stuff, you can see the crew members stacking the chairs in the reflection. Another thing I’m definitely going to check out.