The acting world is full of superstition. So much has to go just right, that often times people going up on a stage or before a camera hedge their bets and try to make sure their luck is as good as it can possibly be. There are many people in film and theatre who believe in bad luck and curses. For instance, in theatre I learned it is considered bad luck to say “good luck” before a show (and likewise it is good luck to wish ill on them, hence the phrase “break a leg”), it is bad luck to whistle in the theatre (Based in history, people rigging lights in a theater before walkie talkies and such used to communicate by whistles. So if you whistled in the theater, you risked sending the wrong message to someone), and of course, the most infamous, is the supposedly cursed play MacBeth. So cursed is it, supposedly, that just saying its name is enough to jinx a production (if it must be said, people instead refer to it as “the Scottish play”).
Well, misfortune is by no means limited to stage work. The world of film is just as full of its own legends, superstitions, and supposed curses. Here is a list of eight films that supposedly carry a curse on them. How many have you seen?
1. The Poltergeist Trilology (1982-1988)
This one suffers from outright bad information in some renditions. One version of this curse states that everyone who acted in the films is dead. This, simply put, is massively erroneous. However, what is true is that four of the franchise’s actors did indeed die within 6 years of the first film. Heather O’Rourke went to the hospital for flu-like symptoms and died of complications in surgery, Julian Beck died of cancer, Will Sampson also died during an operation, and Dominique Dunn was strangled by her boyfriend. Apparently, the alleged curse came about because, supposedly, real human bones were used as props in the film. The reason? They claimed real human remains were cheaper than fake ones.
2. Atuk (Never Filmed)
Atuk is simply a screenplay for a comedy film about an Eskimo in New York City. It never went into production because the curse for this movie started during casting. Everyone who was considered to play the lead role has died. John Belushi read the script and expressed interest and then died of an overdose in 1982, Sam Kinison wanted the role but demanded a few things changed and during the delays he died in a car crash in 1992, John Candy then took the role and died of a heart attack in 1994, and, finally, Chris Farley was in talks for the part in 1997 and died of a drug overdose. There’s coincidence and then there’s this thing that simply leaves me scratching my head.
3. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
This one’s a gruesome one. It starts standard enough. The composer, Krzysztof Komeda, died of a blood clot (the same method of death as a character from the film) in 1969 and producer William Castle suffered kidney failure and screamed out “Rosemary, for God’s sake, drop that knife!” while being treated. And then things get really dark. In August of 1969, the director and screenplay writer Roman Polanksi was away in Europe working on another movie. His 8 month pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, was left at home. Charles Manson ordered his cult to go to their house. Once there, they killed Sharon and four others. But, before murdering Sharon, they first cut her baby out of her stomach while she was still alive and killed it, using its blood to write “PIG” on the wall. The wife of the director who made a film about a cult coming for a baby…
4. The Omen (1976)
This one is just a very long list of misery and misfortune. Scriptwriter David Seltzer, star Gregory Peck, and exec producer Mace Neufeld each had individual planes they were on get struck by lightning. Neufeld then stayed at a hotel that was bombed by the IRA and a restaurant that director Richard Donner had scheduled to eat at with the actors for the film was bombed as well. One of the animal handlers died. Gregory Peck’s son committed suicide by shooting himself. And a plane that had been scheduled for use for the film was instead rescheduled for passengers and crashed with no survivors. And the creepiest one? So creepy I have trouble believing it even happened? On Friday the 13th of August, 1976, SFX consultant John Richardson was driving in Holland with his assistant. The car crashed and his assistant was apparently sliced right in half by the wreckage. Richardson pulled himself from the wreck to see a road sign. The road sign read “Ommen 66.6km”. I have ascertained that such a town does exist in Holland. I tried to find a picture of said sign but failed. However, you really can’t expect every road sign in the world to have a photo of it on the internet, can you?
5. The Exorcist (1973)
This is a big one. The exact results of the curse are not even entirely known. It seems there was so much chaos as a result of it that not many people are certain exactly what happened. But up to 9 people were rumored to have died during filming, including Jack McGowen, an actor playing a character who the character Regan said would die, Max Von Sydow’s brother, Linda Blair’s grandfather, a night watchman for the set, a crew member in charge of the refrigerated bedroom, and a cameraman’s newborn baby. There were also rumors of unexplained fires on the set, including at night when no one was there. A priest is said to have been brought in to bless it daily. Cast and crew are said to have suddenly started behaving strangely. The list is long and so much is still unknown about what actually happened on that film set…
6. The Crow (1994)
The film The Crow is a beautiful movie about love even after death. Many people rave about the imagery and the character of Eric Draven is beloved by many. What a lot of people don’t know is that it is based on a comic book that was written in very real pain, anguish, and anger. It was written as murder by proxy. Comic book writer James O’Barr’s fiance was killed by a drunk driver. To deal with all the hurt inside, he wrote the comic book The Crow about an man coming back from the dead to kill the ones who took his love from him. It doesn’t take a psych major to see what’s going on there. It’s a beautiful story, but it is also one written with the darkest of intentions. Where does that energy go?
When the book was adapted into a film, tragedy befell the set. One man got burned, another had his hand impaled, a cart of equipment mysteriously caught fire. But, most infamous of all, Brandon Lee, the son of Bruce Lee and starring as the avenging Eric Draven, was accidentally killed when the metal tip of a dummy bullet wedged into a gun and was fired into his abdomen when a blank was shot at his character during his death scene. Also unbeknownst to many, this is not the only time tragedy struck a film set associated to The Crow. There was a short lived TV series called The Crow: Stairway to Heaven that lasted a single season. During filming, veteran stunt coordinator Mark Akerstream was killed when a stunt explosion for a scene sent a piece of debris up into the air, over some trees, and into his head.
Now, there have also been 3 sequels to The Crow with no misfortune attached to them, which would seem pretty strange if there were a curse. But there is another connection between the first film and the TV series that I have never seen anyone else piece together: they are the only two items in the franchise to deal with the character Eric Draven. The same character that James O’Barr wrote for his comic book when his mind was set to murder the man who stole his fiance from him. All of the sequels deal with new, original characters. But both 1994’s The Crow and The Crow: Stairway to Heaven starred a character written in pain. And when the remake, also dealing with the Eric Draven character, enters production, you can be damned sure I’m going to be keeping a close eye on news from the set…
7. Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
Where the misfortunes of The Exorcist are steeped in mystery, the supposed curse on Rebel Without a Cause is crystal clear and laser guided. All three lead actors died unnatural deaths. James Dean died in a car wreck a month before the film’s release in 1955. Eerily, a surgeon named Troy McHenry later used parts from Dean’s wrecked Porsche for his own car and he died in a car wreck himself a year later. Sal Mineo was stabbed to death in an alley in 1976. Finally, Natalie Woods was found floating dead off the coast of California in 1981, a victim of an unexplained apparent drowning. With all the stars dead, it seems that if there was this very specific curse, it’s run its course…
8. The Superman Franchise (1950’s-Present)
And once again we are back to an apparently all-over-the-place curse. This one is blamed for a few things. First, George Reeves, who played Superman in the original 1950’s serial series, was found dead in 1959. He was shot in the head and the case was ruled a suicide but his fingerprints were never found on the gun. Next, Christopher Reeve from the classic film series was paralyzed from the waist down when he was thrown from a horse. There are a lot of illnesses attached to the curse as well, but I really can’t give much credence to blaming a diagnosis of bipolar disorder a decade later (Margot Kidder aka Lois Lane) on a film. The curse is also blamed for not only a physical death, but also the death of a lot of acting careers. Again, I don’t think this is attributed to a curse. More to the fact that in my opinion most of the Superman films are just awful.
What do you guys think? Curse or no? Let us know what you think!
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