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[Remember This?] Spielberg Dumps JoBeth Williams In A Pool With Real Skeletons In ‘Poltergeist’!

“Remember This?” is a new feature that highlights cool anecdotes from the horror genre’s storied past. It’ll pop up from time to time, giving you a brief look at something cool before you move on with your day.

This isn’t exactly a well kept secret, but it’s weird to think sometimes that some of those skeletons in Poltergeist are real. Towards the end of the film JoBeth Williams‘ character is thrown into a swimming pool flooded with dirt, rain and actual human remains (their house is built on a burial ground after all).

While the jury is still out on who directed the film between Tobe Hooper and producer Steven Spielberg, there’s no doubt that both of them were aware of their “authentic” props. What’s even stranger is that Williams was pretty much cool with it (stating that she was far more concerned about being electrocuted)! One thing’s for sure – this would not happen today. Hollywood is much less renegade in spirit than it was back then, and talent is more “finicky”. I was recently on the set of a horror film and watched the young female star – who had not heard this story – shudder in horror and disbelief as I relayed this tidbit.

As a germaphobe – I’m really hoping these things were thoroughly sanitized. Head inside for more pics! And decide for yourself if any of these are the real skeletons (dressed with fake rotting flesh) in question, or if the actual guys are somewhwre in the background.



  • axelcole

    it was definitely directed by spielberg. he had a deal with universal for ET (which came out a week after) and couldn’t technically ‘direct’ anything due to his contract. doesn’t matter who did it though. awesome either way.

  • John Marrone

    There’s flesh on them bones, I notice. Would we be talking about real mummified corpses? or maybe they threw some latex FX on real skeletons? cuz that seems real nasty. I know bare boned skeletons can be sterilized, but… dang. Just goes to show how much further horror can take you when you try to keep what you’re filming in the realm of reality. That scene is still disturbing, to this day.

  • flesheater24

    I would be scared too

  • guttersnipesurfs

    The skeletons in high school biology classrooms used to be real too…

  • saft-und-kraft

    so I saw and met and talked to two of the actors from the film at a recent midwest convention. Days of the dead Indianapolis. I aske this supposed rumor from the internet about who directed the film. they said that it was Tobe Hooper! all the way! he agreed it had that Spielberg flavor because Spielberg was there on set alot working with Hooper. but he was there only for small amounts. he said they never took direction from Spielberg. and he said the internet rumors are completely false. I ended up spending a good 30 minutes talking to the guy. Martin Casella, one of the nicest actors I never got an autograph from. I believed his side of the story all the way. that’sa what’s up!

    • axelcole

      yeah, i’ve heard both sides too. the reason i say that ss directed was because that’s what he told a group of us. so who knows. still a rad f-ing movie.

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  • j.c

    Real skeletons would be pretty skin crawling, but for my money, the story ( or rumor, depending on who you ask I guess) that makes me shudder is the actress who had real sheep innards shoved into her mouth for the infamous gut barfing scene in Fulci’s City of the Living Dead . I can almost gaurentee that you wont catch a current actress pulling that one off. I certainly feel for that poor girl.

    • John Marrone

      JC – I remember reading that way back in the day. Real sheep innards! NOBODY does that anymore. Not today’s actresses. Sick sick shit, and one of the best scenes ever in a horror film.

  • doomas10

    Poltergeist…what a film. The skeletons – real or not- bit is disturbing still to this day1

  • j.c

    Agreed John, I know it knocked my socks off first time I saw it. When the COTLD anniversary hit a few years back, all the horror publications were doing retrospectives on it and that story got mentioned every time so there must be something to it. If you watch the film, you cant deny that’s exactly what it looks like.

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