Some stories are meant to be told. However, some stories are meant to be told with care. Depending on who you ask some stories are just not meant to be repeated at all. Superstition holds that some things should just not be said because energies may shift and become disturbed. Horror fiction and horror films have been key at communicating tales about the supernatural. Many fictional tales are based in some fact, dealing with real people, places and scenarios. Horror films have been bringing audiences frightening tales for over a hundred years starting with films like Quasimodo the Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.
The horror film has risen and fallen in popularity based on audience tastes and preferences, but there are always a few ready for a scare. The content of horror films has also shifted, focusing on supernatural beasts for a few years, slashers for a few others, and maybe a sprinkling of zombie films here and there. Horror, like the rest of the world falls into trends. Yet, what can’t be argued about horror films is that they have the ability to not only frighten audiences but to terrorize those working on set as well.
Whether you believe in curses or not there’s no doubting that some films have been marked by strange occurrences and tragedy. There have been films where people have died during filming and others where disaster followed immediately off the set, or did so years later. There are claims that the following films are cursed. Read along and decide for yourself.
10 Poltergeist (1982)
The original Poltergeist film was co-written by Steven Spielberg and directed by Toby Hooper. Poltergeist would go on to make $100 million in ticket sales and traumatize millions of viewers with a creepy toy clown and skeleton-filled swimming pool scene. There would be two additional films in the franchise, and a 2015 remake. The trilogy however has been plagued with rumors of a curse among the actors and the film crew.
Within six years of the original movie, four cast members died, including Dominque Dunne who passed shortly after the film’s release. Dunne played the eldest daughter in the first movie. She was strangled to death by her boyfriend. Then, franchise star Heather O’Rourke who played Carol Anne in each of the three films died during exploratory bowel surgery to determine the cause of flu-like symptoms. Spielberg was so impressed by Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre he requested that Hooper direct Poltergeist.
What many people don’t know is that real skeletons were used in scenes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and would eventually find their way into the Poltergeist. It has been revealed that real skeletons were used in the swimming pool scene as they were cheaper than plastic skeletons. Some claim this could be the cause of the curse.
9 The Exorcist (1973)
The Exorcist film, based on William Peter Blatty’s novel, made movie audiences so sick some theaters were rumored to have set out vomit bags in seats. The graphics were considered so intense at that time that famed movie critic Roger Ebert stated his surprise that the movie was rated R and not X.
Strange occurrences on set include a fire that burned down the original set that upset some workers so much an actual exorcism was requested for the updated set. The exorcism was refused. Nine cast and crew members died during the filming or shortly after the release of the movie including Jack McGowran, who played the alcoholic director in the movie. He died before the film’s release from complications from the flu. Vasiliki Maliaros, who played Father Karras’ mother, died of natural causes also before the film’s release.
According to Catholics in the Movies, edited by Colleen McDannell, after the film opened there were reports of people vomiting and passing out in the movie theater and there was even a miscarriage reported during a viewing. Psychiatrists in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Toronto also reported seeing patients who claimed that by seeing The Exorcist they allowed demons to inhabit their bodies.
8 The Omen (1976)
The 1976 version of The Omen starring Gregory Peck is consistently ranked in lists of best horror movies. However, the events that took place before, during and after filming have pushed the film into the realm of legend.
The movie, about the birth of the antichrist, has been plagued by tragedy and death. Star Gregory Peck and screenwriter David Seltzer were each onboard (separate) planes that were struck by lightening. Peck rescheduled a flight in which all crew and passengers later died, a scene involving baboons turned into baboons attacking crew members and actors for real, a zookeeper was then attacked by lions a day after filming there was completed, and special effects artist John Richardson’s girlfriend was beheaded in a car accident.
What makes the accident involving Richardson especially eerie is that he was responsible for executing the effect in The Omen in which a character is decapitated. Legend also holds that the car accident occurred along a marker reading Ommen: 6.66km on Friday the 13th.
7 Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)
Sometimes it’s believed if you don’t follow the rules, you’re setting yourself up for crossed conditions. The 1983 anthology science-fiction fantasy horror film was produced by Steven Spieldberg, who also produced the cursed film Poltergeist.
The movie is a remake of several classic Twilight Zone episodes; "Time Out," "Kick the Can," "It’s a Good Life" and "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet." The movie is infamous for a helicopter stunt gone bad that took the lives of two children and actor Vic Morrow. The two children were in violation of California law as they were working at night and in close proximity to explosions.
During the scene, Morrow’s character was to have traveled back through time where he found two Vietnamese children who were left behind. A U.S. Army helicopter then appears to be shooting at them. Morrow was supposed to take both children under his arms and escape the village as multiple explosions went on, and it was then believed that his character was to be redeemed. Instead, the helicopter pilot lost control because of the pyrotechnics in close range and the helicopter landed on Morrow and the children, killing them instantly. The deaths were captured from three different cameras at three different angles.
6 Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Ira Levin wrote the best-selling novel Rosemary’s Baby in 1967 that became a film the following year directed by Roman Polanski. The movie is consistently ranked in top lists, including the American Film Institute’s 100 Years…100 Thrills list and has been deemed significant by the Library of Congress.
The film, in some ways has eclipsed the novel. Producer William Castle, who mortgaged his home to obtain the rights of the movie, is believed to have received a letter while the making of the movie. The letter in part is said to read “My prediction is you will rot during a long and painful illness which you have brought upon yourself.” It’s rumored that he collapsed while making the film and at one point in the hospital screamed “Rosemary, for god’s sake, drop the knife!” He suffered kidney failure after the movie’s release and was never able to capitalize on its success. He died in 1977. The composer of the film’s score died in 1969 of a hematoma of the brain, a death familiar to a character in the movie. Also in 1969, one of the most notorious killing sprees took place, the Manson murders in which actress Sharon Tate, Polanski’s wife, and her unborn baby were murdered in a cult killing.
5 The Possession (2012)
Some people are too afraid to write or even utter the word… See what I did right there? I’m not writing the word, nor am I saying it, because right when I wrote it my chest hurt and I know there are some things you just don’t toy with and this box is one of them.
The box that is the focus of the film is believed to hold demons and its thought that by owning the box or even coming into contact with the box you will befall misfortune and even death. When the filmmakers asked the actors if they were interested in having the real box on set the stars said no. While no one was severely injured during filming, cast and crew experienced light bulbs breaking, unexplained cold blasts, creepy vibes, and an unexplained fire in a storage facility that burned down, including the box that was made for the movie.
An investigation concluded that the fire was not caused from anything outside of the storage facility and that it was not electrical. The fire started from within. The mantra “Don’t mock the box” was adopted by film crew.
4 The Crow (1994)
When a crew member had to be hospitalized after suffering burns over 90% of his body on the first day of filming, people should have begun to wonder what would be next. Certainly, other tragic events followed. A construction worker drove a screwdriver through his own hand, the prop room was completely destroyed after someone drove his car through it and a large part of the set was devastated by a storm.
The greatest tragedy came when upcoming film star Brandon Lee was shot and killed while filming. The prop gun that was used had a metal tip on the fake bullet and it lodged into his abdomen, killing him. Eerily enough, Brandon Lee’s legendary martial arts father, Bruce Lee, died in 1973 during a similar shooting while filming Game of Death 20 years before.
3 Rebel Without A Cause (1955)
Rebel Without A Cause was released in 1955 and it instantly became a cult classic because of its portrayal of the American delinquent teen and the mysterious tragedy surrounding its stars. Rebel Without a Cause starred James Dean, Natalie Wood, Sal Mineo and Nik Adams. The movie moved the American juvenile delinquent from the gritty inner city to suburban California, changing many people's perceptions of this group of youngsters, and most importantly adding commentary to the shifting times and the different thought among older and younger generations.
James Dean died less than a month before the film’s release after he crashed his Porsche 550 Spyder. Nik Adams died 10 years later. Adams was found in his apartment, fully clothed, there were no signs of forced entry and a telephone was nearby. His death was ruled an accidental suicide, but ultimately there were no definitive signs as to what killed him. Less than a decade after Adams’ death, Mineo was stabbed to death by a pizza deliveryman. Mineo was one of the first Hollywood actors to come out as gay and so many believe that he was killed because of his sexual orientation, yet the murderer claimed to not have known who Mineo was before killing him.
Starlet Natalie Wood was the last member of Rebel Without a Cause to mysteriously die. At one time, her death was ruled accidental, but her case was reopened. Wood drowned near Santa Catalina Island, California during a boating trip with her husband, Robert Wagner, their friend Christopher Walken and the boat’s captain, Dennis Davern. All those on the boat claimed to not have known how Wood entered the water. So for 30 years her death was listed as accidental. The case was reopened in 2011 when the boat’s captain admitted that Wood and her husband had a fight the night she died and that Wagner caused her death. Wood’s case remains open.
2 The Amityville Horror (2005 remake)
The Amityville Horror is one of the most popular horror film franchises. The events of Amityville are also based on a book that presents the torment one family encountered after moving into a house in Amityville, New York. Ronald DeFeo shot and killed his family in the home. He was eventually tried and convicted. Thirteen months later the Lutz family moved into the house and fled after living there for just 28 days, claiming they were being haunted.
The 2005 remake is based on the original 1979 version. Shortly before filming began, the body of a fisherman washed up on the set. Then, the film’s star, Ryan Reynolds, complained that he was not sleeping well. In fact, he found himself waking up around the same time each night that the murders took place, the same time George Lutz would wake.
1 Atuk (Not yet filmed)
This is a cursed movie - that was never filmed. The premise for the comedy involves an Eskimo who moves from Alaska to New York. A script has been available since the early 1980s, and there was considerable Hollywood interest, with several studios expressing their commitment to move forward with the project.
The first comedian to receive the script was John Belushi in 1982. Belushi accepted the part, but he was found dead months later. Several years later, stand-up comedian Sam Kinison was offered the role. He accepted and he would go on to film a single scene around 1986. Kinison was not pleased with the writing and pushed for a rewrite, which resulted in a lawsuit. Filming ceased for some years but talks resumed to continue the project. Then in 1989 Kinison died when his car was hit head on by a pickup truck. His wife who was the passenger survived with minimal injuries.
In 1994, funnyman John Candy was offered and accepted the role, and later that year he died of a heart attack. Chris Farely was offered the role in 1997 and later that year he died of a drug overdose. Atuk claimed one more victim when comedian Phil Hartman was encouraged to take the role, which he did. Five months later he was shot and killed by his wife.