Did they use real skeletons in the Poltergeist?

I heard they used real skeletons and corpses in the swimming pool scene of The Poltergeist. Is this true?


Wikipedia, this encyclopedia thingy, has an article that covers it a bit. Not a definitive answer I guess, but it does give us the source of the rumors.


I know Wikipedia has an answer, but Wikipedia isn’t well known for being right all the time. Snopes has nothing on it as far as I can tell.

Moved to Cafe Society.

That would be skeletons. I’m going to assume the part about *corpses * mentioned in the OP is untrue unless somebody finds an extremely credible source.

In searching, it seems like most people are pointing to an episode of I Love the 80s as the original claimant for this, but I couldn’t uncover any such video on Youtube. I’m guessing urban legend.

Previous thread on this topic.

In fact, I’m an idiot. Actual corpses (that is, some flesh is evident on ‘bodies’ in the swimming pool scene) is impossible. NFW that part is true.

Real skeleton + Modelling clay + Wig

I doubt if Poltergeist used real skeletons and corpses – it’s so much easier and cheaper to get fake ones, and you don’t have to worry about possible legal problems down the line.
One movie that did use real corpses was Werner Herzog’s remake of Nosferatu. I recall reading about it at the time:

The film came out in 1979, only three years before [B/Poltergeist**. I’ll bet any money Spielberg was familiar with this case.

Not any more. China stopped exporting human skeletons in 2008, so a real skeleton now costs ten times what a plastic one costs.