The horror movie genre prides itself on bringing people’s worst fears and nightmares to the big screen, and while we know the subject of these ghostly and gory tales are pure fantasy, some horror movies had the misfortune of experiencing some real-life curses during filming.
With Halloween just around the corner, we’re taking a look back at some of the true stories of unexpected incidents behind some of the most legendary horror movies that are said to be cursed.
The Poltergeist series
One of the most well-known rumored curses comes from The Poltergeist series, which centers around a family whose home is invaded by unwelcome ghosts that kidnap the youngest daughter. The movie series is said to be cursed due to the unexpected deaths of four cast members within the first six years of the first film’s release.
Actress Dominique Dunne (who played the eldest child in the first film) was strangled by her boyfriend the same year of the movie’s release; actor Will Sampson (who played Taylor the Medicine Man in Poltergeist II) died in 1987 after post-operative kidney failure; actor Julian Beck (who played Kane in Poltergeist II) died of stomach cancer in 1985; and Heather O’Rourke (who played Carol Anne in all three Poltergeist movies) died at age 12 in 1988.
The cause of the “curse” may stem from the production’s decision to use real human remains as props in the first film, which many say upset the spirits.
One of the greatest horror movies ever made also had its fair share of incidents during production, giving way to the urban legend that it’s cursed.
Some of unexplained accidents to occur include the interior sets of the prime character’s home, except for the possessed Regan, were destroyed in a studio fire.
The star, Linda Blair, fractured her spine during filming of a bedroom scene, and actor Max Von Sydow was delivered the bad news that his brother had passed away in Sweden on the first day of shooting.
The Omen series
The alleged curse from the Omen series is so real that a documentary depicting the series of incidents was made in 2005. The bad ‘omens’ surrounding the film include scriptwriter David Seltzer’s plane being struck by lightning, as well as the film’s star Gregory Peck’s plane being struck by lightning in a separate incident.
Later, Peck canceled one of his flights, in which the plane crashed and killed all passengers on board. Other unfortunate incidents include a hotel where executive producer Mace Neufelds and Peck were to eat at was bombed by the Provisional IRA, and key members of the crew dying after a head-on car crash the first day of filming.
But the creepiest incident of all? Special effects artist John Richardson was involved in a car crash in Holland shortly after his work on The Omen. The accident killed a female passenger with Richardson, and after he emerged from the wreckage, he looked up to road sign that allegedly read “Ommen 6.66km.”
Just before filming the first take began, actress Mia Farrow was formally served divorce papers from her then husband, Frank Sinatra, postponing production until the next day.
The most unsettling part of the curse surrounding this film happened mere months after its release. Director Roman Polanski’s 8-month pregnant wife, actress Sharon Tate, was murder in their home along with four others by members of the Manson Family, which called the killing spree “Helter Skelter” after The Beatles song.
Years later, John Lennon was shot outside his hotel at The Dakota, which was the same hotel used in scenes from the movie.
The star of this Gothic thriller, Brandon Lee (son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee), was killed on set while shooting a scene in which his character is murdered. The gun used in the scene was loaded incorrectly and a metal piece from a dummy round became lodged in the gun and killed Lee when discharged during the scene.