the 1982 movie poltergeist used real skeletons as – tymoff

The horror genre has a knack for weaving chilling tales both on and off the screen. One such instance lies in the 1982 classic, Poltergeist. Among its spine-tingling scenes and eerie atmosphere, a longstanding rumor has persisted—real skeletons were used during the film’s production.

Exploring the Myth

What’s the Controversy About?

The controversy stems from the belief that the skeletons seen in the film were not prop skeletons, but authentic human remains. Reports circulated that due to budget constraints, the production opted for real skeletons, adding a macabre layer of authenticity to the movie’s haunted house scenes.

The Truth Unearthed

Investigations into the matter have unveiled a surprising truth. The film’s special effects team did indeed use real skeletons, but these were not human. The skeletons in question were sourced from medical supply companies, commonly used in educational institutions and the film industry for their realistic appearance.

Delving into the Filmmaking Process

Why Use Realistic Skeletons?

The decision to use authentic-looking skeletons was made to achieve a higher level of realism in certain scenes. The visual impact sought by director Tobe Hooper and producer Steven Spielberg necessitated lifelike props, prompting the choice for these medical-grade skeletons.

Ethical Concerns and Industry Standards

While the use of real-looking skeletons was a practical choice for the film’s visual effects, ethical considerations have since sparked discussions within the industry. The ethical implications of using such props, even when not sourced from human remains, have led to a reevaluation of prop procurement and industry standards.

Impact and Legacy

How Did This Revelation Affect the Film’s Reception?

Despite the controversy surrounding the use of these props, Poltergeist remained a critical and commercial success. The film’s impact on the horror genre overshadowed the discussions about its props, allowing it to solidify its place as a classic in cinematic history.

Industry Changes and Ethical Considerations

The aftermath of this revelation prompted the film industry to revisit its approach to prop procurement. Stricter guidelines and ethical considerations were put in place to ensure that such controversies wouldn’t arise in future productions.


The 1982 movie Poltergeist, renowned for its gripping storyline and spine-chilling moments, inadvertently sparked a debate about the use of realistic props in filmmaking. The revelation that the skeletons featured in the film were indeed real, though not human, shed light on the ethical considerations within the industry. While the controversy may have lingered, the movie’s impact on the horror genre remains undeniable, leaving an enduring legacy in cinematic history.


1. Were actual human skeletons used in the film Poltergeist?

No, the skeletons used in the film were sourced from medical supply companies and were not real human remains. They were high-quality replicas used for their realistic appearance.

2. Why did the filmmakers choose to use real-looking skeletons?

The decision was made to enhance the film’s realism and create a more impactful visual effect in specific scenes. However, ethical considerations have since prompted changes in the industry regarding prop procurement.

3. Did the controversy affect the film’s success?

Despite the controversy surrounding the props, Poltergeist remained successful both critically and commercially, solidifying its place as a classic in the horror genre.

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