Chances are that by now most of you have probably heard about how certain famous horror movies are believed to be actually cursed by supernatural forces that terrified both cast and crew alike and in some cases brought about the untimely deaths of them and their loved ones. Were these spooky occurrences all merely coincidences? Or were they the fabricated tales dreamed up by the marketing departments of movie studios looking to cash in on a creepy craze or ghoulish gimmick? Can it actually be possible that by making these horror films the people involved brought down a curse on themselves, unknowingly invoking the wrath of a vengeful supernatural entity seeking retribution? And if so, can watching them all in a row cause some of that curse to leap off the screen and latch onto you? It’s a question I aim to answer, and I invite the bravest among you to come with me down this dark, twisted path towards madness.
Since the start of October I’ve been randomly watching a horror movie every night as part of the #31NightsofHorror challenge. I’ve tried to tackle a bunch of newer releases, like It Follows, Annabelle, and Babadook, but had to slip in a few favorites as well like the Hostel series and Let the Right One In.
Out of a possible list of dozens of allegedly cursed movies I’ve selected the 7 most famous cases to round out the end of my October list – in honor of the deadly sins. Some might say that watching all the top cursed movies in a row as a build up to Halloween night is about as smart as locking yourself into a haunted insane asylum, inviting the Devil to a tea party at midnight, and reading aloud from the Necronomicon until the Dark Lord arrives, but that’s exactly what I plan on doing. My question for you is simple – are you crazy enough to take the challenge with me? If so grab your crucifix and holy water and prepare to be spooked out because here we go!
CURSED MOVIE #1 – Poltergeist (1982)
Poltergeist is far and away the most popular and referenced cursed film. In fact there is even a documentary crew making a movie about it right now called The Curse of Poltergeist which follows the actor Oliver Robins who played the brother Robbie in the original and its sequel and was nearly choked to death on set by the arms of the evil clown dragging him under the bed.
Though two of the four most prominent deaths ascribed to the ‘Poltergeist Curse’ can be explained by old age or natural causes, the other pair remain at the heart of the curse myth, keeping it alive and well to this very day. Heather O’Rourke, the six year old child actress who famously played Carol Anne throughout the series, unexpectedly died of septic shock on an operating table at the Children’s Hospital in San Diego after coming in with flu-like symptoms. Big sister Dana, played by Dominique Dunne, was strangled to death by an abusive spurned boyfriend after his plans to win her back failed.
According to several reports the reason people believe the film is cursed is because actual skeletal remains were used during the filming of the pool scene. Since then every production of the series has had more than its fair share of untimely deaths and bizarre occurrences. For example, actress JoBeth Williams, who played the mom in the original, claims that during filming she would return home from set each day to find all the pictures in her house had been tilted crooked, despite constantly returning them to their ordinary positions each morning.
CURSED MOVIE #2 – The Omen
Second only to Poltergeist in cursed movie lore, The Omen had more than its fair share of bizarre and chilling coincidences, with a rash of cast and crew members losing their lives during and after filming in eerie ways. Actors Gregory Peck and Mace Neufeld were on separate planes that were both struck by lightning shortly after wrapping production. One of the film’s producers narrowly avoided being hit by lightning as well during filming along with a stunt coordinator.
But that’s far from all that happened to the folks who made the ultimate movie about the coming of the Antichrist. Director Richard Donner was hit by a car around the same time and a few weeks after wrap one of the animal handlers was eaten by a lion. Still the most disturbing victim of the alleged curse was Liz Moore, set designer John Richardson’s assistant and girlfriend. In late 1976 on Friday the 13th the two were involved in an automobile accident in the Netherlands that identically mirrored the decapitation scene Richardson famously created for the film. Rumor has it that when Richardson got out of the car he saw a sign indicating that he was 66.6 miles from a nearby town named Ommen.
In 2006, during filming of the remake, director John Moore claimed he lost several days’ worth of footage due to a broken camera that kept displaying the error message Error 666. To this day Moore insists it was the work of an evil spirit haunting the set.
CURSED MOVIE #3 – The Exorcist
Don’t let its placement on my list fool you – The Exorcist is believed to be one of the most cursed movies of all time, with so many accidents and deaths occurring around its creation and release that they are hard to overlook. Reports of objects moving on set, cold spots, and a fire breaking out caused the producers to have the set blessed, but that didn’t stop the nightmare. In fact some of the cast came to believe that the devil himself didn’t want the movie made and that he was actively trying to stop it. There are nine deaths connected to the movie, including Jack MacGowren, who played Burke Dennings and passed away a short time before the film was released age 55. It was the last role he would ever play.
Evangelist Billy Graham declared that the film carrying the movie was also haunted by evil. After it was released some theatres had paramedics at the standby, after reports of people fainting in terror or throwing up became common. At an early screening in Rome a bolt of lightning struck a nearby church as moviegoers were walking into the theater, causing the 400 year old cross atop it to come crashing down into the street below.
In 2004 “E! True Hollywood Story” aired a two hour special about the controversy called Curse of the Exorcist.
CURSED MOVIE #4 – The Amityville Horror (1979)
The real Amityville Horror wasn’t necessarily the story of the haunting of the Lutz family so much as the gruesome reason behind it – the killing of the six DeFeos by the eldest son of the family, Ronald “Butch” DeFeo, Jr, which took place just 13 months before the Lutz family moved in. The paranormal experiences that allegedly took place are much more terrifying in light of the abnormal murders that occurred without cause in the residence at 3:15 a.m. The victims were consecutively executed, all without a struggle even though there were no signs of sedatives in their systems and most of them were awake. Neighbors reported hearing a dog barking at the time of the murders but no gunshots, despite the fact that no silencer was used on the rifle. To this day no one knows for sure exactly what happened or why.
The same spirit that supposedly haunted George Lutz also came after the men who portrayed him. James Brolin, the actor who starred as Lutz in the original 1979 film, didn’t want the role when it was first offered to him. At the insistence of his agent he agreed to read the book behind the film. One night as Brolin was reading a particularly tense section of the book his pants unexpectedly came crashing down from where he’d hung them. When he checked the clock it was at 3:15 a.m. Eventually James agreed to take the role, having been convinced there was something to the Lutz family account after all.
Ryan Reynolds also had a run in with the supernatural while filming the 2005 remake. The new actor portraying George Lutz admitted that he kept waking up each night at the same time his character did in the movie – 3:15 a.m. Eventually whatever was plaguing Reynolds gave up and went away. George Lutz wasn’t so lucky. He dropped dead four weeks before the film premiered.
CURSED MOVIE #5 – The Exorcism of Emily Rose
The Exorcism of Emily Rose proves that horror movie curses, or the idea of them, didn’t go out of fashion with the passing of the twentieth century. Inspired by the true story of Anneliese Michel, the film portrays the girl dying after an extended battle against an evil spirit possessing her. The film’s production drew a dark spirit to the set that believed it was Anneliese, according to its leading lady, actress Jennifer Carpenter. She believes that while she was filming the movie she was followed home from set each night by it and that the unseen presence didn’t necessarily appreciate her portrayal as one of the deceased.
“When we were shooting, my stereo kept turning itself on in the middle of the night,” Carpenter revealed after shooting wrapped. “It freaked me out because it started playing Pearl Jam’s ‘Alive’ – just the ‘I’m still alive’ part. It stayed with me for a while.”
CURSED MOVIE #6 – Rosemary’s Baby
This Roman Polanski film was voted by Entertainment Weekly the 10th scariest film of all time, and with good reason. The plot features a pregnant woman named Rosemary Woodhouse who uncovers that her kind neighbors are actually members of a satanic cult enlisted by her struggling husband, who let the devil knock her up in exchange for a career boost. And no matter how hard she tries to convince anyone of what is happening to her no one will believe or help her.
A steady stream of death threats and hate mail sent to producer William Castle eventually led to a urinary tract infection that resulted in being hospitalized with kidney failure. Castle insisted the movie was cursed. Legend has it that he cried out “Rosemary, for God’s sake drop that knife” at one point while being treated. Meanwhile Komeda, the Polish composer who wrote the score for the film, was in the same hospital being treated for a brain clot that would ultimately kill him before the month was over, just like Rosemary’s friend Hutch in the film.
“The story of Rosemary’s Baby was happening in life,” producer Castle later confided. “Witches, all of them, were casting their spell, and I was becoming one of the principal players.”
But what he suffered was nothing compared to the horrifying fate that befell director Polanski’s wife, Sharon Tate, along with her unborn child. Tate was entertaining friends when they were famously murdered by Charles Manson’s followers, who drew Satanic symbols reminiscent of the movie all over the walls in their victim’s blood before fleeing the scene of the crime. Manson’s grudge with music producer Terry Melcher, who had previously refused to record Manson’s music, turned Polanski into a target when he unknowingly bought the posh pad.
Polanski, who was in London at the time, survived but his life was forever altered. Some years later he was charged with and plead guilty to having unlawful sex with a minor, a 13 year old girl at a party in Hollywood. Polanski fled the country on the eve of his sentencing to live in exile in Europe as a wanted man where he remains to this day. Prosecutors have made repeated requests over the years to have the lauded auteur extradited back to America to face the music but are still waiting for an official ruling. A Polish court is set to deliberate on whether the Oscar winning director will be forced to serve time in the United States on October 30, 2015.
CURSED MOVIE #7 – The Conjuring
Based on the true story of the Perrons, who insist that they experienced terrifying paranormal activity in their Rhode Island home in the ’70s, The Conjuring is also believed to be a cursed film. The Perron family came to set to visit but could not convince their mother Carolyn to join them, but that didn’t stop an evil presence from attacking her at home in Atlanta at the same exact moment her family was caught in an inexplicable swirling wind on set and needing to be rushed to the hospital. But Carolyn wasn’t the only one who had trouble during filming.
Things picked up after that with the hotel the actors and movie crew were staying catching on fire, the director and his dog being visited late one night by a dark entity, and lead actress Vera Farmiga being tormented by an unseen force that left three animal-like scratches across her computer screen as if some demonic creature had slashed at it. Farmiga refused to take the script home with her or read it late at night claiming that when she tried she was overcome with paralyzing fear.
Cursed or not I also saved this movie for last since it’s one of my newer favorites and makes the perfect spooky Halloween night movie.
So there you have them in all of their accursed glory, the 7 most cursed movies of all time. Again I dare you to watch each movie in order for the next 7 nights and see if you can beat the curse! If you’re still alive come All Saint’s Day go ahead and leave a comment letting me know you made it. Don’t forget to include if you experienced any supernatural or cursed events after watching!
Until next time, stay scared!
For those looking to catch up to my #31NightsofHorror schedule, here is my full list in order:
October 2015 Horror Movies
- Oct 01 – Sinister
- Oct 02 – It Follows
- Oct 03 – Dale & Tucker Vs. Evil
- Oct 04 – Poltergeist 2015
- Oct 05 – Annabelle
- Oct 06 – Babadook
- Oct 07 – Insidious 2
- Oct 08 – The Town That Feared Sundown (2014)
- Oct 09 – Odd Thomas
- Oct 10 – Insidious 3
- Oct 11 – We Are Still Here
- Oct 12 – 1408
- Oct 13 – Ouija
- Oct 14 – Horns
- Oct 15 – Oculus
- Oct 16 – Haunter
- Oct 17 – Stonehearst Asylum
- Oct 18 – Drag Me To Hell
- Oct 19 – Evil Dead
- Oct 20 – The Lazarus Effect
- Oct 21 – Hostel 1
- Oct 22 – Hostel 2
- Oct 23 – The Thing (2011)
- Oct 24 – Let the Right One In
- Oct 25 – CURSED MOVIE #1 – Poltergeist (1989)
- Oct 26 – CURSED MOVIE #2 – The Omen
- Oct 27 – CURSED MOVIE #3 – The Exorcist
- Oct 28 – CURSED MOVIE #4 – The Amityville Horror
- Oct 29 – CURSED MOVIE #5 – The Exorcism of Emily Rose
- Oct 30 – CURSED MOVIE #6 – Rosemary’s Baby
- Oct 31 – CURSED MOVIE #7 – The Conjuring