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Old 20 February 2007, 05:47 AM
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Fright Real skeletons in movies

Comment: On the TV Land series about television myths and legends, they had one segment on the movie Poltergeist, and they asserted that the production company used real human skeletons in some scenes, like the pool scene, not plastic ones because the plastic ones were too expensive. And, that it was the use of the real human skeletons that lead to the curse.

I have a hard time believing that real Skeletons were used or that cost was a real factor.
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Old 20 February 2007, 05:50 AM
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We've received many e-mails over the years from people claiming the same thing about the "Pirates of the Caribbean" attraction at Disneyland -- that it (initially) used real skeletons because fake ones were too expensive.

I would guess that:

a) Real skeletons would probably be far more expensive (because of their relative scarcity and demand for scientific/educational uses).

b) Laws regulating the sale and possession of human remains would probably preclude their being used for entertainment purposes.

- snopes
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  #3  
Old 20 February 2007, 06:03 AM
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i know in the movi the rockyhorror picture show during the begining of the timewarp scene there is a skeleton in a clock that riff-raff opens up to reveal. this was a real skeleton, it had belonged to the woman they got the clock from and she had had her husband placed there after he died.
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Old 20 February 2007, 09:20 AM
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I can't say anything about the veracity of this specific rumour, but it's one that I've long heard as true.

It's certainly true that real skeletons can be bought (and this was more true a few years back), usually from India. And it's true that realistic plastic skeletons can be very expensive. It's just a question of which was more expensive and prohibitive, and whether cheaper plastic skeletons looked good enough on film.
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Old 20 February 2007, 09:42 AM
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The London Dungeon used to have a notice outside claiming that all human remains in the exhibition were real - I remember because my dad thought it was so inappropriate that he almost refused to go in. This would have been around 1982, probably.

I'm not sure if it was true, though, or just a ploy to make it look creepier. Certainly they had plenty of waxwork dummies of body parts and bodies so even if it was true they only meant the skeletons and skulls...
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  #6  
Old 20 February 2007, 10:32 AM
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http://www.boneroom.com/bone/humanskel.htm
Articulated Male Human Skeleton (real) $3,500 USD
http://www.evolutionnyc.com/IBS/Simp...id/555985.html
Physiological Skeleton on hanging stand (Replica) $813
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  #7  
Old 20 February 2007, 11:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charlie23 View Post
http://www.boneroom.com/bone/humanskel.htm
Articulated Male Human Skeleton (real) $3,500 USD
http://www.evolutionnyc.com/IBS/Simp...id/555985.html
Physiological Skeleton on hanging stand (Replica) $813
But that's today. The question is what was the situation in 1982. The real skeleton link you provided says that human skeletons are much harder to get hold of now than they used to be, as there were loads coming from India in the 70s.
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Old 20 February 2007, 12:42 PM
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I remember watching an episode of David Letterman back when he was still on NBC, where he had a special effects expert on the show. One of the things the expert said was that they used real skeletons. Letterman didn't believe him at first, but the guy stuck to his story, and said they got them from India, as trollface said.

Letterman's response was, "Well that's better than going to 'Bones 'R Us'!"
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Old 20 February 2007, 12:58 PM
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We had real skeletons in my college.

I would think that there are a number of other problems besides cost and legal prohibitions. Real skeletons are pretty heavy and they can be fragile. I would think they are also harder to clean than a big piece of plastic. In a movie of course, you want to paint it. The bone probably takes paint well but wouldn't you want to wash it off, redo it, reuse it for other sets and props? The only reason I can imagine you'd want a real bone is for closeup shots, for example of the teeth. But there are dental artists who can make nice, real-looking teeth (or not nice ones, depending on what you want). All things considered, why would you use a real skeleton?
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Old 20 February 2007, 02:32 PM
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Since the OP is talking about a "pool scene" in Poltergeist (not having seen the movie, I assume a swimming pool, not a pool table), could one reason for using real skeletons instead of plastic ones be that they behave differently in water? Real bones sink, while plastic ones may float - and having heavier plastic skeletons custom-made would be more expensive (maybe even more so than real ones).

Don "King (of the) Overuse of Brackets" Enrico
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Old 20 February 2007, 02:33 PM
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Quote:
i know in the movi the rockyhorror picture show during the begining of the timewarp scene there is a skeleton in a clock that riff-raff opens up to reveal. this was a real skeleton, it had belonged to the woman they got the clock from and she had had her husband placed there after he died.
This just screams Urban Legend to me. Is there any proof of this?
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  #12  
Old 20 February 2007, 03:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thera View Post
This just screams Urban Legend to me. Is there any proof of this?
Seems to be accurate, or at least that's the story they were sticking to when the prop was sold at Sothebys for 35,000 in 2002.

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Once the property of the Countess of Rosslyn, it is said that the skeleton is that of her Italian secretary-lover. She never recovered from his death and travelled everywhere with his remains in the coffin. It was acquired by Ken Paul from a music hall escapologist in Hackney, London.

Hired for and featured in the 1975 cult classic `The Rocky Horror Picure Show', other credits include a promo video for Eurythmics's star Dave Stewart, BBC TV's `Jonathan Creek' and, most recently, the yet-to-be released film about Jack The Ripper, `From Hell', starring Johnny Depp. (we think it was cut from the movie)
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Old 20 February 2007, 04:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Enrico View Post
Since the OP is talking about a "pool scene" in Poltergeist (not having seen the movie, I assume a swimming pool, not a pool table), could one reason for using real skeletons instead of plastic ones be that they behave differently in water? Real bones sink, while plastic ones may float - and having heavier plastic skeletons custom-made would be more expensive (maybe even more so than real ones).
As I recall, there wasn't a lot of water in the pool. I don't even think there was a lot of pool in the pool -- Wasn't it just a big muddy hole in the ground that was going to be the pool? (Or is this about a different scene?)
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Old 20 February 2007, 04:16 PM
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Originally Posted by ganzfeld View Post
As I recall, there wasn't a lot of water in the pool. I don't even think there was a lot of pool in the pool -- Wasn't it just a big muddy hole in the ground that was going to be the pool? (Or is this about a different scene?)
That's exactly what it was, but it was raining hard to the hole had quite a bit of water in it.

*ETA: Though floating would definitely be an issue... Deeper than I remembered
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Old 20 February 2007, 05:02 PM
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Well, I've heard tell that the "animated" skeletons in Ray Harryhausen's The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad were real. Harryhausen confessed, "We tried and tried, but it was difficult to choreograph the tiny animated skeletons, so we went to a haunted graveyard and just hired nine real skeletons."

Trouble was, none of them had been a warrior, so they were terrible with their weapons. However, one of them had been a dance instructor, so he taught the other skeletons some basic moves. That skeleton, Eric Boneidle, says, "Oh, honey, fighting, dancing, what's the diff, you know? The main thing is to give the audience a little thrillsey, right?"

None of the other skeletons ever made a second movie, though one became a production assistant on the remake of The Parent Trap and wrote two episodes of Family Guy.
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Old 20 February 2007, 05:07 PM
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I go to an art school and we had to draw from fake skeletons because of the cost, primarily. Although I there was a magazine for educator that sold real and replicas, but a skull by itself cost so much it wouldn't have for the school
budget. Meanwhile the extra replica is in the director's office, and is now a landmark for finding one's way around the mezzanine level.

"Yeah, find Jeff's office, you know where there is right? It's got the skeleton with the sombrero and poncho. Make a left and..."
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Old 20 February 2007, 05:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad from Georgia View Post
Well, I've heard tell that the "animated" skeletons in Ray Harryhausen's The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad were real. Harryhausen confessed, "We tried and tried, but it was difficult to choreograph the tiny animated skeletons, so we went to a haunted graveyard and just hired nine real skeletons."

Trouble was, none of them had been a warrior, so they were terrible with their weapons. However, one of them had been a dance instructor, so he taught the other skeletons some basic moves. That skeleton, Eric Boneidle, says, "Oh, honey, fighting, dancing, what's the diff, you know? The main thing is to give the audience a little thrillsey, right?"

None of the other skeletons ever made a second movie, though one became a production assistant on the remake of The Parent Trap and wrote two episodes of Family Guy.
Are you thinking of the animated skeleton sequence in "Jason and the Argonauts" Brad? I don't recall there being skeletons in "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad", but I could just be remembering wrong. The skeleton battle scene in "Jason and the Argonauts" is brilliantly done though, especially when you think that Harryhausen did most of the stop-motion work himself. Unless of course they WERE real skeletons.

Time to drag out that Sinbad boxed DVD set I got for Christmas last year.
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Old 20 February 2007, 05:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Syllavus View Post
Are you thinking of the animated skeleton sequence in "Jason and the Argonauts" Brad? I don't recall there being skeletons in "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad", but I could just be remembering wrong. The skeleton battle scene in "Jason and the Argonauts" is brilliantly done though, especially when you think that Harryhausen did most of the stop-motion work himself. Unless of course they WERE real skeletons.

Time to drag out that Sinbad boxed DVD set I got for Christmas last year.
There was one skeleton in Sinbad.

But there were several in Jason &
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Old 20 February 2007, 05:58 PM
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It were Jason and the Argonauts. The sole error in my whole composition.

Cut me some slack. I got a bad virus, folks. My tummy is upset, and things are swirling around and around.....
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  #20  
Old 20 February 2007, 06:52 PM
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We got to attend a presentation by Harryhausen at the SFM last April. He brought one of the actual skeletons, which he carried in its own little black coffin!

And on a related subject, the title character in The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra was definitely not real:
Quote:
Larry gathered props on eBay. The title character was a used medical school plastic skeleton that cost about a hundred bucks. Only one problem: when we received it, Larry found it had a large shiny brass nut on the top of its head. No problem-we'll just remove it. Well, the whole thing fell apart. So, Larry was forced to cover it with white sculpy (clay) and our titular character spent the film with this odd lump on his head. Larry also had to cover the many nuts and bolts all over this guy, and the sculpy (and the nuts and bolts for that matter) were constantly falling off and being replaced. By the end of filming Larry grew to really hate that skeleton.
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