the 1982 movie poltergeist used real skeletons as – tymoff: A Comprehensive Guide

The Controversial Claim: Did the 1982 Movie “Poltergeist” Use Real Skeletons as Props?

“Poltergeist,” directed by Tobe Hooper and produced by Steven Spielberg, is a seminal horror film from 1982 that has left audiences both terrified and intrigued. Among the most persistent rumors surrounding the film is the claim that real human skeletons were used as props, a detail that adds a macabre layer to its legacy. This article explores the origins, evidence, and impact of this chilling assertion

The Origins of the Claim

The rumor that “Poltergeist” employed real skeletons instead of artificial ones has circulated since the movie’s release. This claim is often cited as a factor contributing to the alleged “Poltergeist curse,” which is said to involve a series of misfortunes that befell the cast and crew during and after the film’s production.

The Revelation Behind The Real Skeletons

It has been reported in various interviews and discussions that real skeletons were indeed used during the filming of “Poltergeist.” These were sourced from medical supply companies, which, at the time, was a practice considered more cost-effective than crafting artificial skeletons with the level of detail required for high-resolution film.

The Enigmatic Tymoff Connection:

The mention of “Tymoff” seems to be a confusion or a misprint as there is no publicly recognized link between Tymoff and the “Poltergeist” film production or the allegations concerning the use of real skeletons.

Unravelling the Controversy:

The Allegations:

Special effects coordinator Craig Reardon and others involved in the film have acknowledged the use of real skeletons, citing practical reasons such as budget constraints and the authenticity of appearance.

Behind the Scenes: Skeletons in the Closet:

Using real skeletons in films isn’t unique to “Poltergeist” but the transparency about this practice was not common. The revelation has led to debates about ethical standards in filmmaking.

The Swimming Pool Scene:

The most notorious scene that allegedly used real skeletons is the swimming pool scene, where actress JoBeth Williams’ character struggles with skeletons emerging from muddy water. This scene is often highlighted as particularly disturbing because of the purported use of genuine human remains.

Expert Opinions:

Forensic experts and historians confirm that the use of real skeletons in medical and academic contexts was widespread, and the entertainment industry’s procurement of such materials was not heavily regulated during the early 1980s.

Historical Context:

At the time, the ethical implications of using human remains in artistic productions were not as rigorously scrutinized as they are today, reflecting a broader evolution in societal norms and legal standards regarding human remains.

The Art of Filmmaking:

This practice prompts a discussion on the boundaries of art and morality in filmmaking, questioning where filmmakers should draw the line in the pursuit of realism.

Closing the Chapter:

Final Verdict:

While it is confirmed that real skeletons were used, the impact and ethical judgment remain subjective and vary among critics, audiences, and professionals within the film industry.


The Evidence Presented

The firsthand accounts from crew members and archival research into industry practices of the time provide substantial evidence supporting the claims.

The Impact on the Film Industry

This revelation has led to stricter regulations and ethical standards concerning the use of human remains in entertainment, reflecting a broader cultural shift towards greater sensitivity.

The Legacy of Poltergeist

“Poltergeist” remains a landmark in horror cinema, not only for its pioneering effects and storytelling but also for the ethical questions it raises about the use of real human remains in movies.

5 Spooky FAQs About the “Poltergeist” Skeletons with Answers

  1. Were real skeletons cheaper than fake ones? Yes, at the time, real skeletons were often less expensive than high-quality replicas.
  2. Is it legal to use real skeletons in films today? Current laws and ethical standards generally prohibit such practices without specific permissions and ethical oversight.
  3. How did audiences react to learning about the real skeletons? Audience reactions have been mixed, with some feeling it enhanced the film’s horror, while others were disturbed by the ethical implications.
  4. Did using real skeletons contribute to the alleged “Poltergeist curse”? There is no evidence to support this, but it has fueled urban legends.
  5. What changes in film industry practices have occurred since “Poltergeist”? There has been a significant move towards more ethical practices concerning the depiction and use of human remains.


The use of real skeletons in “Poltergeist” not only contributed to its eerie atmosphere but also sparked a significant conversation about ethical filmmaking practices. The film’s legacy is thus twofold: it remains a touchstone in horror cinema and a catalyst for discussion on moral boundaries in creative expression.

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