Throughout the history of cinema, there have been movies about curses (Drag Me to Hell), and movies that were just plain cursed (The Love Guru). But whenever something tragic occurs on the set of a pic in production, conspiracy theorists are quick to dub the movie “cursed.” Hogwash, you say! But some movie sets have seen so many mishaps, accidental deaths, and reported hauntings, it’s hard not to feel like there are dark forces afoot. Squeeze your lucky rabbit’s foot; there’s trouble ahead…
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (2010)
Though still in production, this Nic Cage fantasy flick has already spurred rumors of a curse. Last May, a stunt Ferrari careened out of control, crashing into a pizza joint and injuring two pedestrians. Then, just two days later, an SUV smashed into a parked car near the set, injuring nine others. Accidents often occur on movie sets, but the proximity — in a film about dark magic — is more than a little creepy. Kind of like Cage’s leather getup and cheesy hat.
The Dark Knight (2008)
Besides Heath Ledger’s untimely death, a number of other tragic occurrences plagued the set of this hit. Early in production, stunt testing on the Batmobile resulted in the death of technician Conway Wickliffe. Later, Londoners were frightened by explosions created by the crew, prompting fears of a possible terrorist attack. This was also the time period during which Christian Bale earned his irascible-actor rep. Is it too early to predict a Batman curse?
The Crow (1994)
Jason Lee’s tragic passing during production on this cult comic book movie is the stuff of legend. Turns out, the rushed production also caused several other crew member injuries: A carpenter suffered severe burns, a grip truck caught fire, a disgruntled sculptor ran his car through the studio, and a crew member drove a screwdriver through his own hand. Then there was the curse placed on the movie’s sequels, ensuring they would all be unwatchable.
Three Men and a Baby (1987)
If you grew up during the ’80s, chances are you’ve heard this one before. As rumor had it, a boy was killed — or committed suicide — in the house where Ted Danson and the gang lived. Many a VCR has been paused in an attempt to catch the ghostly figure that seems to appear behind a set of curtains on the set. The “boy” turned out to be a cardboard cut-out of Danson, and ironically, the rumor began to circulate around the time of the release of the sequel, Three Men and a Little Lady. An early example of viral marketing, perhaps?
Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)
One tragic accident caused the big-screen version of Rod Serling’s cult scifi TV series to join the “cursed movie club.” During filming of a sequence for John Landis’ segment, a helicopter crashed and caused the deaths of star Vic Morrow and two child actors. The tragedy put a dark cloud over the production, leading to a ho-hum performance at the box office and legal trouble for Landis and his crew.
The reported “Poltergeist curse” is so famous at this point, it’s nearly overshadowed the cult classic itself. (Seriously, can you watch any of them without thinking of the real-life tragedies?) It stems from the four cast members (Dominique Dunne, Will Sampson, Julian Beck, and Heather O’Rourke) who died between the release of the first movie and the last. Some say the curse was caused by the use of real skeletons on the set of the first Poltergeist. Still, much of the cast emerged unscathed.
The Omen (1976)
Few horror films have been as “cursed” as The Omen, which saw everything from a fatal car crash (with a decapitation, just like in the movie) to lion attacks and bizarre lightning storms. (Screenwriter David Seltzer, producer Mace Neufeld, and star Gregory Peck were all in planes that were struck by lightning.) Actually, it seems like just about every movie about the Cloven-Hoofed One is cursed — just look at the painfully unfunny Little Nicky!
The Exorcist (1973)
This movie’s crew was plagued with on-set fires and stunt mishaps. (Meanwhile, star Linda Blair’s subsequent battles with drug and alcohol dependency followed the pattern of the “former child star” curse.) The interior sets of the MacNeil residence were destroyed by a studio fire and had to be rebuilt. Blair’s harness broke in one of those thrashing scenes, injuring the actress. Actor Jack MacGowran (Burke Dennings) died during filming. All in all, a creepy laundry list.
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
This marital chiller was fraught with personal drama for all involved, between Frank Sinatra’s lawyers famously serving star Mia Farrow divorce papers on set and Sharon Tate, the pregnant wife of director Roman Polanski, being gruesomely murdered by the Manson Family a year after the film’s release. As if that’s not enough, the movie’s composer died in a strikingly similar manner as one of the characters, just one year later.