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Real Life Film Curses

Posted by LiveFor on February 16, 2010


Whether you have been turned in to a hairy beast because you could not love, or have sold your soul for eternal youth, curses have been the basis for many a film plot. Sometimes it has been said however that the likes of Mrs Ganush herself have infiltrated movie sets causing some strange goings on during and after production has ended. Are these a series of unfortunate events, bad publicity stunts, or is there something more sinister going on? Carrying on from last weeks Film Production Nightmares, Live for Films brings you The Real Life Film Curses…

The Exorcist

The Exorcist – Widely regarded as a horror classic, William Friedkin’s adaptation of William Peter Blatty’s novel of a young girl possessed by a demonic spirit had its fair share of creepy tales.  The set itself was thought to be cursed after a fire burnt down and destroyed it forcing production crews to rebuild.  It is also believed that a priest was asked to come in and bless the set as well as the actors themselves.  A handful of cast and crew members are rumoured to have died during production, including actor Jack MacGowan who played Burke Dennings, but perhaps the strangest thing is Linda Blair, who played the possessed Regan, apparently foretold the deaths of crew members’ weeks before.

The Omen – You really have to wonder if making films about demonic children is a smart move.  The events surrounding this Richard Donner directed film were scarier than your friends’ kid with redeye in a birthday snapshot.  Along with trained Rottweiler’s attacking their handlers and the principal cast members being involved in a head on crash first day of filming, Donners hotel was bombed by the IRA,  star Gregory Peck and writer David Seltzers planes were struck by lightning in two separate events.  Peck would again have another close escape when a flight he cancelled at the last minute would later crash killing everyone on board.  But perhaps the most frightening was that Visual Effects Supervisor John Richardson’s wife was beheaded on the set of A Bridge Too Far a year later, in a scene eerily reminiscent of that from The Omen.       

Rosemary’s Baby – Another classic film another troubling aftermath for Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby.  The critically acclaimed tale of a woman (Mia Farrow) who believes she is carrying the son of Satan has been linked to some horrifying events following its release in 1968.  Director Polanskis pregnant wife, actress Sharon Tate, was murdered by Charles Manson at their home in 1969.  This was part of an infamous killing spree for the Manson Family which he named Helter Sketler after the Beatles song.  On the 8th December 1980, Mark Chapman killed Beatles legend John Lennon outside the Dakota Building where Rosemary’s Baby was filmed.  Make of it what you will.

Poltergeist – Along with The Omen, Steven Spielberg and Tobe Hoopers Poltergeist is probably the most publicised example of the film ‘curse’.   The film which features ghosts communicating to the other side through a television set spawned two sequels and the basis for the curse comes from the fact four actors have died during the six year years between the first and third film.  Dominique Dunne who played the older daughter in the first film was strangled by her boyfriend in 1982, Julian Beck (Poltergeist 2) died aged 60 from stomach cancer in 1985, Will Sampson (also Poltergeist 2) died from post op complications from a kidney operation in 1988 and Heather O’ Rourke who played Carol Anne in all three films sadly died also in 1988.   

Superman – The Man of Steel may be able to stop, but the men who have played them have not been so lucky.   George Reeves portrayed Superman in the US television series in the 50’s, but was found dead in mysterious circumstances on his wedding day in an apparent suicide.  Ben Affleck would portray Reeves in Hollywoodland in 2006.  Perhaps the most well know incarnation of Clark Kent was that of Christopher Reeve who starred in Superman (1978) directed by Richard Donner, as well as three sequels.  In 1995, Reeve was involved in a tragic horse riding accident which left him paralysed from the neck down.  Reeve did however battle on, defying the odds and continued to star in TV and film before his death in 2004. Reeves co-star Margot Kidder who played the role of Lois Lane was found by police in undergrowth in LA after suffering a manic breakdown; she was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

The Dark Knight – Christopher Nolan’s follow up to Batman Begins was a success both critically and commercially when it was released in 2008, but the death of Heath Ledgers just shortly after filming wrapped left a black cloud hanging above it and was the starting point for another curse rumour.  More strange incidents followed; a stunt driver was killed during filming, Morgan Freeman was involved in a car accident which would break his arm and at the opening premiere, Christian Bale would be arrested for allegedly assaulting his mother.

Rebel without a Cause – It is a well known fact that James Dean died while driving the Porsche Spyder used in Rebel Without A Cause in 1955, while co-stars Sal Mineo and Natalie Wood both died prematurely years later.  However was the car itself cursed? A real life Christine? The mechanic who recovered the wreck apparently had his leg broken as the vehicle collapsed on him.  Later, parts of the car were sold to two separate buyers; both the cars also crashed claiming the lives of the drivers.

The curse is also known to have struck Quantum of Solace, Valkyrie and Blade Runner; in which companies like Coca Cola that were used for advertising suffered big losses. Shame.

So what do you guys think? Real, or desperately made up by people who should be doing something better with their time like working out what is going on in Lost or something?  Check out Good Actors Turned Bad next week…

By Richard Bodsworth.

One Response to “Real Life Film Curses”

  1. Dames said

    What about Apocalypse Now? Some stories there. Then there’s ‘2012’ which was a disaster for all concerned…

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