“Poltergeist,” the iconic horror film released in 1982, has long been celebrated for its spine-tingling scares and groundbreaking special effects. However, beneath the surface of supernatural phenomena and eerie apparitions lies a bone-chilling revelation that has sparked controversy and fascination among film enthusiasts. In a bizarre twist, real human skeletons were used during the production, adding an unexpected layer of macabre authenticity to the film.

In the realm of horror movies, “Poltergeist” stands as a classic, known for its chilling storyline and groundbreaking special effects. However, behind the scenes of this beloved 1982 film lurks a disturbing controversy. Rumors have circulated for years that real human skeletons were used during the production, adding an unsettling layer of authenticity to the supernatural occurrences depicted on screen. In this blog article, we delve into the unsettling truth behind the use of real skeletons in “Poltergeist” and the ethical implications it raises.

The Set That Held More Than Secrets:

The Set That Held More Than Secrets:

As the cameras rolled and the Freeling family faced the otherworldly forces tormenting their suburban home, the set of “Poltergeist” harbored a dark secret. Unbeknownst to many, the production team opted to use genuine human skeletons in the eerie pool scene, where skeletons emerge from the muddy water to terrify the characters.

The Choice for Authenticity:

The decision to use real skeletons stemmed from a desire for authenticity in the film industry during the 1980s. At the time, obtaining realistic prop skeletons was a costly and time-consuming process. The special effects team faced tight budget constraints and tight schedules, leading them to explore unconventional sources for set decorations.

The Creepy Origins:

The skeletons used in “Poltergeist” were reportedly purchased from a medical supply company that sourced them from India. These skeletons were originally donated to medical institutions, and their use in the film raised ethical questions about the treatment of human remains in the entertainment industry.

Controversy and Ethical Dilemmas:

Controversy and Ethical Dilemmas:

As news of the real skeletons emerged, it sparked public outcry and ethical debates within the film community. Critics argued that the decision to use actual human remains was disrespectful and in poor taste. The revelation also raised concerns about the potential mistreatment of the deceased, as their skeletons were repurposed for the entertainment value of a horror film.

Legacy and Impact:

Despite the controversy, “Poltergeist” remains a landmark film in the horror genre, known for its atmospheric tension and groundbreaking effects. The use of real skeletons has become an infamous footnote in the movie’s history, contributing to its legacy as a film that pushed boundaries, both in terms of storytelling and behind-the-scenes choices.

Unveiling the Haunting Truth: The Controversy Surrounding Real Skeletons in the 1982 Movie Poltergeist

Unveiling the Haunting Truth: The Controversy Surrounding Real Skeletons in the 1982 Movie Poltergeist

The Allegations:

Almost immediately after the release of “Poltergeist,” whispers began to circulate within the film industry that the movie employed actual human skeletons. These rumors persisted, suggesting that the production team opted for real remains due to their cost-effectiveness and the belief that they would enhance the eerie atmosphere of the film. The unsettling nature of these allegations captured public attention and sparked a debate about the ethics and appropriateness of such practices.

The Supporting Evidence:

As the rumors gained traction, investigations were launched to uncover the truth. It was revealed that the production had indeed used real human skeletons during the filming of certain scenes. The skeletons were sourced from a medical supply company and were originally intended for scientific research and educational purposes. However, their use in a Hollywood production raised eyebrows and ignited a firestorm of controversy.

Ethical Concerns:

The revelation of real skeletons being used in “Poltergeist” raised significant ethical concerns. Many argued that the decision to utilize human remains, without proper consent or respect, was disrespectful to the deceased and their families. The ethical principle of treating human remains with dignity and reverence was clearly violated. The controversy highlighted the need for stricter regulations and guidelines within the film industry to prevent such practices in the future.

Filmmaking Practices:

The use of real skeletons in “Poltergeist” also shed light on some questionable practices within the filmmaking industry. It exposed the potential prioritization of cost-effectiveness and visual impact over ethical considerations. This controversy provoked discussions about the responsibility of filmmakers to ensure that all aspects of production align with ethical standards and the potential consequences of failing to do so.

Industry Reforms:

In the aftermath of the “Poltergeist” controversy, the film industry faced increased scrutiny. As a result, regulations and guidelines were implemented to prevent the use of real human remains in future productions. Strict protocols were established to ensure that ethical standards are upheld, and alternatives, such as synthetic skeletons or digital effects, became the norm.


The revelation that real human skeletons were used in the making of the 1982 movie “Poltergeist” remains a haunting chapter in the history of filmmaking. The controversy surrounding this practice brought attention to the ethical considerations and responsibilities of filmmakers. While the use of real skeletons in “Poltergeist” may have added a chilling authenticity to the film, it also raised serious ethical concerns and sparked necessary reforms within the industry. Today, we can reflect on this controversy as a reminder of the importance of upholding ethical standards in all aspects of filmmaking.

“Poltergeist” stands as a testament to the dedication filmmakers had to achieving authenticity in their craft, even if it meant incorporating real human skeletons into the production. While the use of genuine remains may have been a shocking revelation, it adds a layer of eerie realism to a film that continues to captivate audiences decades after its release. The skeletons may have been laid to rest in the muddy pool, but their haunting presence lingers as a bone-chilling reminder of the lengths filmmakers sometimes go to create unforgettable cinematic experiences.