Whether you call yourself a believer in ghosts or a skeptic about spiritual life after death, there are mysterious occurrences that can't be explained. It just takes a few minutes and a Google search to find hundreds of stories from people who've been terrified of things that go bump in the night. Film studios love to draw inspiration from true life to spin together horror movie scripts that give us nightmares. The Exorcist was about a little boy named Roland Doe who was allegedly possessed by demons back in 1949. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was inspired by killer Ed Gein who kept human skin masks in his home. We can even include all of the films that were directly taken from the cases of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (The Conjuring series, Annabelle, Amityville Horror) who, themselves, have become cultural phenomena.
Hollywood turns these already terrifying events into movieland magic, but that doesn't mean that making these horror flicks are a walk in the park. There have been reports that during production, unexplained mysteries have occurred. We're talking about things as little as the power going out during a tense moment in the story to multiple people attached to the projects dying horrific deaths. We've found 15 of the creepiest incidents that happened on the sets of some of our favorite scary movies. They'll make you want to run out and see the film again or never go near it for the rest of your life.
15 Annabelle — 'DO NOT OPEN'
If there's anything that horror films have told us, it's that we don't mess with creepy, demonic dolls. The movie Annabelle is about a real-life doll that's said to be possessed. It's kept in a room in Ed and Lorraine Warren's occult museum, and the doll's display has a sign that reads, "WARNING, Positively do not open." We're not surprised that the cast and crew had unexplained experiences. Director John Leonetti said that he came across a claw mark on a dusty window on set. The mark had three fingers, the same as the fictionalized demon in the script. In the movie, the handyman is killed by the demon in a hallway. On set, in the same hallway, a lighting fixture fell on the head of the actor who played the handyman character. Also, on the day that they had an actor dressed in full demon makeup, a crew member suffered an injury on set. *shudders*
14 The Poltergeist Series — Child Actress Dies, Another Murdered By Boyfriend
Some of the most haunting films in history are those from the Poltergeist series. The creepy images are embedded in the psyche of anyone who's seen them, but what happened behind the scenes was just as unsettling. Maybe it was because director Steven Spielberg added to the true-life fear by using real skeletons in certain scenes because they were apparently cheaper than purchasing plastic ones. Perhaps, as a result, Actress JoBeth Williams said that when she would return home after a day of filming, the photos on the walls of her home would be crooked. Also, Will Samson, who played the Shaman in the film, one evening, had to return to the set to get rid of dark spirits. The crew said they felt more comfortable afterward, but a year later, Samson died of malnutrition and kidney failure.
Then, in one scene, actor Oliver Robins was to be strangled by a prop clown. The clown malfunctioned, and as Robins was gasping for air, the crew stood by because they thought he was acting. Thankfully, they caught on and saved him. The same couldn't be said of Heather O’Rourke, who played little Carol Anne in the film -- at 12 years old, she died of cardiac arrest and septic shock after doctors misdiagnosed a health issue. Meanwhile, Dominique Dunne was murdered right in front of her home when her ex-boyfriend, John Thomas Sweeney, strangled her.
13 The Conjuring — Dark Spirits Taunt Crew Members On Set
This film is based on the true story of the Perron family who claimed to have experienced dark spirits while living in their Rhode Island home. It's one of the many cases from Ed and Lorraine Warren, the paranormal investigators who've documented their travels for decades.
While filming, the Perron family visited the set, but the mother, Carolyn, refused to go anywhere near it. There was a time when the family was on set and a strange wind engulfed only them, but others noticed that the trees around them weren't affected. At the time, Carolyn was home in Atlanta and said she felt evil in her home. That was right before she fell down and had to be taken to the hospital. Furthermore, the hotel where the cast and crew were staying had to be evacuated after a fire broke out, and actress Vera Farmiga said that she couldn't read the script at night in her home because she would be paralyzed with fear. Once, she opened her laptop and noticed three slashes across it as if some animal had violently scratched its paw across the screen.
12 The Omen — Crew Member's Girlfriend Decapitated in Car Crash
This was the movie that singlehandedly made the name "Damien" evoke fear and trembling in succeeding generations. The story is about the antichrist in the form of a little boy who terrorizes his adopted family — and anyone who stands in his way to the rise to power.
The movie's designer, John Richardson, didn't know just how diabolical of a film The Omen was until he and his girlfriend were in an auto accident. He survived the crash with a few injuries, but his girlfriend was decapitated. Also, the dogs in the movie went crazy and attacked their trainer, and on the first day of filming, several crew members were involved in a head-on car accident. Fortunately, everyone survived.
The star of the film, legendary actor Gregory Peck, almost lost his life as well. Peck was supposed to board a flight on the movie producer's plane. At the last minute, he didn't take the flight, which ended up being the best decision he ever made seeing as how the plane was struck by lightning and crashed. There were no survivors.
11 Rosemary's Baby — Producer Falls Ill After Mysterious Letter
One of the most macabre classic films on this list is Roman Polanski's film, Rosemary's Baby. The story follows Rosemary, played by Mia Farrow, as a young married woman who becomes pregnant and believes that a cult is trying to, or already has, cursed her baby. Yet, the sinister scenes on screen weren't the only hair-raising moments attached to the movie. Producer William Castle was said to have received an anonymous letter that stated he would "slowly rot during a long and painful illness," which he has brought upon himself. He would later collapse and undergo a spinal tap to remove a blockage from his urinary tract. Each time the doctors thought they had remedied the problem, the illness returned.
On set, the entire cast became sick from food poisoning, and while another producer was driving home from filming, he suffered a stroke.
10 Twilight Zone: The Movie — Famed Actor Decapitated In Crash
As a nod to the long-running television series that put fear in the hearts of millions, Twilight Zone: The Movie was released in 1983. In the film, actor Vic Morrow starred as a racist who travels through time and whose ethnicity is changed in various times of history, including being Jewish during the Holocaust and a black man being lynched by the Ku Klux Klan. A year prior to filming Twilight Zone, Morrow reportedly took out a life insurance policy on himself because he had a premonition that something bad was going to happen to him on the set of one of his films. He was right; while filming in 1982, Morrow and two other children were working on one of his scenes that required a helicopter to hover over them. Some of the pyrotechnic explosions around them damaged the helicopter, causing it to land directly on the three actors. Morrow was decapitated in the accident.
9 The Possession — Fire Breaks Out On Set
The first of many movies on this list that involve demonic possession is The Possession. The 2012 film is about a young girl who becomes the focal point of a cursed dybbuk box that was purchased at a yard sale. Jeffrey Dean Morgan, one of the actors who star in the movie, has played roles in a number of thriller-esque shows and movies, and although he's not much of a believer in the supernatural, even he couldn't ignore the freaky things that happened on set.
There were lights that would spontaneously explode and cool, drafty breezes that came from nowhere. The prop storage burned to the ground and an investigation was inconclusive, as no one could find the fault for the blaze. The fake dybbuk box was lost in the fire, but the events were so chilling that the cast and crew didn't want the box around them at all.
8 The Amityville Horror — One Of The Most Haunted Houses In History
Another Ed and Lorraine Warren case, and probably the most famous, is that of the strange happenings at the infamous Amityville home. In 1974, eldest son Ronald Defeo, Jr. murdered his father, mother, two brothers, and two sisters. All of the victims were found face down in their beds. There were no signs of a struggle. Defeo offered up various accounts of how the killings took place, one of which included that his sister, Dawn, killed their father, then their mother killed the children because she was upset. This was before Defeo killed his mother. He was convicted of all crimes.
The following year, the Lutz family moved into the house. They only spent 28 days there and detailed their terrifying experience. The family claimed that furniture would move on its own and rooms full of flies would appear out of nowhere. The children were also being frightened, and Mr. Lutz even said he watched as his wife morphed into the image of an old hag-like woman. Actor Ryan Reynolds, who starred in the remake of the original film about the Defeos and the Lutzes, said that the crew would wake up in the wee hours of the morning at the same time that the Defeos were slain. If that wasn't scary enough, a dead body washed up on shore by the set of the film.
7 The Exorcism Of Emily Rose — Ghosts Are Fans Of Pearl Jam
Jennifer Carpenter is well known for her role in the slasher series "Dexter," but in 2005, she starred in The Exorcism of Emily Rose as the demonically possessed title character. The actress is noted as saying that while making the film, the radio in her hotel room would turn on and off on its own. Even creepier is the fact that it would always play the Pearl Jam song "Alive." She wasn't the only one on the production crew to experience the radio glitches. Others in the cast said the same thing happened to them — and each time, "Alive" would stream as well. It became such a spine-tingling nuisance that cast and crew members ordered that all radios be removed from their hotel rooms. Imagine getting rid of the radio but still having the song play -- now that would be scary!
6 The Crow — Brandon Lee Accidentally Shot And Killed
Bruce Lee's son, Brandon Lee, grew up in the shadows of his father's legendary status, but as an adult, he carved out his own space in the entertainment industry. In 1993, he was in a studio on the set of the now cult classic film, The Crow. The 28-year-old was filming a scene where he comes home and finds his girlfriend being sexually assaulted before he gets shot. The scene required dummy rounds in the gun, so the production crew made their own by removing gunpowder from the rounds. Unfortunately, they didn't pay close enough attention and left the live primer in the rear of the cartridge. When the gun went off, Lee was shot in the abdomen. He was rushed to the hospital and underwent six hours of surgery, but he later died from his wounds.
5 Insidious — Creepy, Haunted Hospital Set
Jennifer Spence, a production designer for horror films such as Annabelle 2, Lights Out, and a few of the Paranormal films, said that something weird happened to crew members on the set of Insidious. "And when we were set dressing in the basement [of Linda Vista Hospital] for Insidious, there was this room full of crazy old [patient] records from the ’40s and [the] ’50s. We were moving them around to do our set dressing, and everybody in the room started feeling sick and weird and heavy. We had to take a break because everyone felt overwhelmingly unwell."
"On the second or third floor, the buzzer to one of the rooms would go off all the time when nobody was up there," she said. "There were no patients, but the buzzer at the end of this hallway would go off all the time and freak us all out. We’d go in groups, like nobody’s going down there by ourselves."
4 The Innkeepers — Filmed At A Haunted Hotel
The Yankee Pedlar Inn in Torrington, Connecticut was where The Innkeepers was filmed, and depending on whom you ask, the building is haunted. The movie is about two employees of a hotel who are determined to prove that the inn has ghosts, and, in this case, the truth may not be far from fiction. Director Ti West admitted that there were moments that proved that the inn has spirits, but he was too busy trying to stay on schedule to be scared.
"I’m a skeptic, so I don’t really buy it," he said. "But I’ve definitely seen doors close by themselves; I’ve seen a TV turn off and on by itself; lights would always burn out in my room. Everyone on [the] crew has very vivid dreams every night, which is really strange."
"So when we’re finishing the movie, I find out that the most haunted room in real life is the room I picked to be the haunted room in the movie. It could be a coincidence. It’s weird that it happened that way. . . . [Star] Sara Paxton would wake up in the middle of the night thinking someone was in the room with her. Everyone has stories, but I was too busy saying, 'Let’s shoot this! We have 17 days!'"
3 Return To Babylon — Real Or Hoax?
This 2013 film with an all-star cast has a background that doesn't even seem real. Director Alex Monty Canawati claimed that as he and his producer were walking down Hollywood Blvd., they came across 19 rolls of 16mm film that featured shots of famous locations in and around Tinsel Town. They created a movie about the found footage. It was about the silent film era and the scandalous lives of the rich and famous who lived during that time. Actress Jennifer Tilly claimed to have endured paranormal experiences on set. People felt as if they were being watched, there were reports of oppressive entities in the air, and crew members complained of being grabbed by hands they couldn't see. There were also allegations that during editing, the crew found ghostly images that were captured on film.
2 The Ghost Of Goodnight Lane — Lights Flickering For No Reason
This movie is more low budget than the other films on this list, but it doesn't mean its set was any less haunted. The Ghost of Goodnight Lane is about a staff member who walks into their renovated film studio only to discover that one of their coworkers has been murdered. The inspiration came from the stories about true-life haunted movie sets, so director Alin Bijan decided to actually film his movie on one of them. There were five deaths at the studio throughout its history, making everyone already uneasy. Cast and crew members said that on multiple occasions, there were flickering lights, which weren't attributed to any electrical problems, and ceiling fixtures that would crash to the ground. There were also moments when some of the production crew, including actor Billy Zane, thought that they heard faint voices calling out their names.
1 The Ghost Whisperer — Ghosts Tugging On Crew Members' Clothes
Okay, so technically, "The Ghost Whisperer" isn't a movie, but its chilling moments behind the scenes definitely make it a contender for one of the most haunted sets. Back in 2007, the show's star, Jennifer Love Hewitt, told Ellen DeGeneres that the show's set has been plagued with paranormal experiences. Once, while filming, they noticed that there was a shadowy figure behind Jennifer's shoulder. When they played the footage back, they claimed to have seen a ghost turning around behind her. Also, Jennifer, along with others on the set, say that they've felt an unseen force pull at their clothing. The experiences have been so prevalent that when other actors were asked to come on the show for guest roles, many of them turned it down out of fear of the unknown.
Sources: Blumhouse, Wikipedia