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Ghost and Paranormal Movie Trivia: Poltergeist Part 2

In this article, you will learn which scene sent shivers up and down JoBeth Williams’ back (where she needed some serious coaxing before she complied), as well as a fluke incident that literally robbed the breathe out of one of the actors.

In honor of his fellow director friend (George Lucas) , Spielberg outfitted the bedrooms of the children in the film with Star Wars toys. This is something that he also repeated in “E.T.”

In order to capture the ghostly movements in the film, the director guided actors to walk at a rather slow pace backwards up the staircase, which was reversed in the film during the final cut to create the illusion that they were walking down the stairs in this manner when viewed on the monitor.

In the beginning of film promotion, “Poltergeist” was given a ‘R’ rating, but the filmmakers fought against this and were given a PG rating. At the time, the PG-13 rating wasn’t even in existence. Boy , we have sure come a long way with the horror movies decorating the video store now, haven’t we?

During the filming of the scene when the clown’s arms are strangling Robbie, he met a great deal of tightness that actually caused him to choke. He screamed “I can’t breathe” but Steven Spielberg thought that the actor was ad-libbing. He answered that he should just look at the camera. However, Robin’s face started to turn a rather scary shade of purple and the director immediately ran over to remove the clown’s arm from around the actor’s neck.

Interestingly, the sound effect used for the beast that attacks the house at the end of the film is actually the lion’s roar associated with MGM.

Actual specimens were used in the scene that included skeletons emerging out of the swimming pool while the character Diane is searching for help. The actress who played Diane (JoBeth Williams) was unaware of this until after she completed the scene. JoBeth Williams had already expressed reservations about shooting the swimming pool scene because she was nervous about all of the electrical equipment that was situated over and about the pool. As an attempt to make her feel better, Spielberg crawled into the pool with her so that the scene could be finished. He is quoted as telling her, “Now if a light falls in, we will both fry.” This ploy worked and Williams agreed to shoot the scene.

Did you know that you came really close to seeing Shirley MacLaine in a starring role in the film? She backed out in order to take on her infamous role in “Terms of Endearment” (1983).

The first scene that was shot for the movie involved Diane (JoBeth Williams) opening the bedroom door and encounters a blood-curdling scream. The last scene shot involved Marty hallucinating in the bathroom.

Steven Spielberg used fears connected to his own childhood to bring to life Robbie’s terrors. These included his fear of clowns and of a tree that stood outside of his window.