The “Poltergeist Curse” is a rumored curse attached to the Poltergeist trilogy and its crew, derived from the fact that four cast members died in the six years between the releases of the first and third films. The rumor is often fueled by the fact that real skeletons were used as props in various scenes of Poltergeist and Poltergeist II.
- Dominique Dunne, who played the eldest daughter Dana in the first movie, died on November 4, 1982, at age 22 after being strangled by her abusive former boyfriend John Thomas Sweeney. He was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to six years in prison, but was paroled after serving three and a half years.
- Julian Beck, 60-year-old actor who played Henry Kane in Poltergeist II: The Other Side, died on September 14, 1985, of stomach cancer diagnosed before he had accepted the role.
- Will Sampson, 53 years old, who played Taylor the medicine man in Poltergeist II, died as a result of post-operative kidney failure and pre-operative malnutrition problems on June 3, 1987.
- Heather O’Rourke, who played Carol Anne in all three Poltergeist movies, died on February 1, 1988 at the age of 12 during surgery to repair an acute bowel obstruction.