One of, if not the biggest, horror movies of the 80’s hands down is “Poltergeist”. The film, directed by Texas Chainsaw Massacre mastermind Tobe Hooper, is one of the biggest critical and commercial successes in horror movie history. Now, here’s a fun fact about the flick you may not know, according to local legend – the story of the film and the inspiration to get it made came from a spooky encounter Steven Spielberg had at the Excelsior Hotel in Jefferson, Texas.
For those that don’t spend a lot of time in Jefferson, Texas here’s a quick rundown: according to those in the paranormal universe, Jefferson is one of the most haunted places in Texas. The history of the place is filled with Wild West Shootouts, early 1900s serial killers and everything in between. If you’re into the paranormal, I’d highly recommend the Jefferson Ghost Walk.
Anyway, one of their most famous and popular stories involves famous director Steven Spielberg and the creation of Poltergeist. According to local legend, Spielberg was in the area scouting locations for 1974 film Sugarland Express. After a long day of work, Spielberg and company checked into the Excelsior Hotel in downtown Jefferson.
According to the story, Spielberg experienced several unexplained happenings. He was staying in the Gould room and allegedly tossed his briefcase on a chair, only to have it fly right back at him. There are also reports of ‘bumps in the night’ and the flickering of lights in the room. Then the kicker – in the late evening/early morning, a small boy in 1800s clothing woke the director up and asked if he was ready for breakfast. Spielberg, according to the story, immediately gathered up his crew, checked out of the hotel and got out of town as quickly as possible.
Interestingly enough, the Excelsior Hotel is one of the few places in Jefferson that refuses to acknowledge ghosts, hauntings or any of the like. However, they do promote the fact that many celebrities have stayed at their establishment including Steven Spielberg. Another thing that is known for fact is that the idea of Poltergeist came from his brain a short time after this supposed haunted trip and, despite not directing the movie himself, was SUPER involved in every aspect of the story and production.
Now, is there any fact to this legend? One never REALLY knows. But, he was in the most haunted town in Texas for a very brief period of time. And, pretty soon after that trip, he started pitching the idea of what would eventually become one of the most famous ghost movies of all time. Outside of that, I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.