31 Terrifying Legends About Cursed Films
Read these at your peril.
1) Heather O'Rourke, who played Carol Anne in the first three Poltergeist movies, died aged 12 from complications following flu-like symptoms.
2) Dominick Dunne, who played the older sister, was killed by her boyfriend just before Poltergeist II went into production.
3) It was reported that actor Will Sampson, who starred in Poltergeist II, performed an exorcism of the set after so much bad luck. He died a year after the film was released.
4) The animal handler who helped to organise the scene in The Omen with the frenzied baboon was killed by a tiger the the day after filming.
5) Shortly after the film was released, the special effects director was involved in a car crash which killed his girlfriend. She was decapitated in a way that was identical to a death in the film.
6) Allegedly, a sign by the wreckage read Ommen 66km. The creepiest thing? It happened on Friday 13 August, 1976.
7) The set of The Exorcist inexplicably burned down and ended up delaying the film for six weeks.
8) Jack McGowran, who portrayed alcoholic director Denning Burke, died suddenly just one week after he completed his role in the film.
9) During the notorious masturbation scene, Ellen Burstyn hurt her back and had to lie in bed for weeks.
10) The location trip to Iraq was pushed from spring, when the weather is milder, to summer, the hottest part of the year, which meant that half the crew were struck down with sunstroke or dysentery.
12) Things got so bad that the director asked a Jesuit priest to exorcise the set; however, he decided to bless it instead. There were no other disturbances after that.
13) In LA, it was estimated that every screening of the film prompted four blackouts and six cases of vomiting – and many people leaving the film halfway through.
14) In New York, several people suffered heart attacks during the film, it has been claimed, and one woman had a miscarriage.
15) Producer William Castle received a letter while making Rosemary's Baby which read: "Bastard. Believer of Witchcraft. Worshipper at the Shrine of Satanism. My prediction is you will slowly rot during a long and painful illness which you have brought upon yourself."
16) Shortly after, he collapsed and he required immediate surgery. However, the condition was persistent and returned over several months: During one admission, Castle was heard to scream: "Rosemary, for god's sake, drop the knife!"
17) The composer of the film's score, Krzysztof Komeda, died in hospital from a haematoma of the brain in a way which eerily resembled Hutch's death in the film.
18) It has long been rumoured that Anton LaVey, the Black Pope of the Church of Satan, acted as "technical advisor" in the film, and he played the devil in the scene where Rosemary is raped by the devil. This is not true.
19) In fact, LaVey was friends with Susan Atkins, a member of the Manson Family, who was sentenced to death for her role in the murder of Roman Polanski's wife, Sharon Tate, one year later.
20) During the filming of the scene in The Passion of the Christ portraying the sermon on the mount, the star, Jim Caviezel, was struck by lightning.
21) Assistant director Jan Michelini was also struck twice by lightning during the film's production.
22) Playing the role of Jesus Christ took its toll upon Caviezel; he dislocated his shoulder while performing the crucifixion scenes, struggled against hypothermia, and got a lung infection and pneumonia.
23) Caviezel also suffered painful skin infections from the makeup used to depict his gruesome injuries in the film.
24) On The Crow's first day of shooting, a crew member had to be hospitalised after his crane ran into a power cable and he suffered burns over 90% of his body.
25) A construction driver drove a screwdriver through his own hand; a set sculptor drove his car through the props room and completely destroyed it; and most of the set was destroyed by a storm.
26) The most devastating tragedy occurred when the young star, Brandon Lee, was shot dead while shooting the film. A metal tip from a fake bullet had been lodged in the prop gun that they were using for the scene, which lodged in his abdomen.
27) Shortly after Lee's death, a film was produced by his mother about his father's life, titled "Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story". In a scene at the end, Bruce Lee is fighting a demon, but it loses interest in him and goes after his son instead. The film was released just two months after Brandon's death.
28) Bruce Lee died in 1973 after shooting a film called Game of Death. In the film, he played an actor who is shot after gangsters replace a fake bullet with a live one, in circumstances similar to those of his son's death 20 years later.
29) In a scene in Twilight Zone: The Movie in which the film's star, Vic Morrow, is trying to rescue children from a Vietnamese village, a helicopter was positioned next to an air mortar which blew off the helicopter's tail. It crashed into the river below, crushing one of the children, Renee Shin-Yi Chen, and severing the heads of Victor Morrow and another child actor, Myca Dinh Le. The two child actors had been hired illegally by the producers.
30) A year before his death, Morrow had taken out a $5 million life insurance policy after having a premonition that he would die in a helicopter crash.
31) The film's concept artist mistakenly included a burnt-out helicopter in the middle of the river in his sketches, foreshadowing the details of the accident.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post stated that Anton LaVey was actually involved in the making of Rosemary's Baby. This has now been corrected. (22/08/14)