The Insane True Stories Behind 6 Cursed Movies

The Insane True Stories Behind 6 Cursed Movies

They say nobody believes in curses until they wind up living under one. Just ask the cast and crew of the following movies that have gone down in Hollywood lore as "cursed" productions. Of course you can't ask some of them, since they're now dead. From the curse.

Or maybe it's all just bad luck. You be the judge.

The Poltergeist Trilogy

The Curse:

Everyone who appeared in the poltergeist trilogy is now dead, says an extreme and entirely untrue version of the poltergeist curse. Indeed, Nancy Allen, (Robocop's sidekick), is very much still alive. It's just her career that's dead. What is true is that four of the trilogy's actors all died within 6 years of the first movie, giving rise to talk of The Poltergeist Curse.

Supposed deaths include child actor Heather O'Rourke, who appeared in all three films and died just before the third film was released. Suffering what was thought to be the flu, she was taken to hospital and later died on the operating table from complications. Then, Julian Beck, (who played the terrifying old man in Part 2), died of cancer...

... and Native American actor Will Sampson died during an operation (note that he was wanted at the time for the suffocation of a lobotomized Jack Nicholson and vandalism of state property).

Then we have Dominique Dunne (who played the oldest child in the first film) who was strangled to death by her boyfriend the same year the film was released. That's where the "curse" starts to get shaky, since that seems less like supernatural misfortune and more like having a shitty, murderous boyfriend.

So what did the film makers do to supposedly piss off the spirits? Well, they used real human remains as props in the first Poltergeist movie. You know, the movie about how desecrating the remains of the dead angers their spirits.

What sucks about that is that none of the supposed curse victims were actually involved in the decision to use real human remains on the set. Doesn't it ruin the whole point of a curse when you go inflicting it at random? That's just sloppy.

Most Tenuous Link to the Curse:

According to a noted expert on the film (Read: Wikipedia) JoBeth Williams, who played Diane Freeling, claims she returned home from the set each day to find pictures on her wall askew! She would then straighten them out, only to find them crooked again the next day!

"Aaaahhhh! Pictures!"

Supernatural or not, it's just shitty curse work when you have to use a laser level to even figure out it's going on.


The Curse:

The Superman Curse has supposedly cast a number of misfortunes on people involved in the Superman franchise over the decades, from career ruin to death.

First there's George Reeves, who played Superman in the 1950's TV series Adventures of Superman. He was found dead in 1959 of a single gunshot wound to the head. The death was ruled suicide but his fingerprints were never found on the gun, so unless he shot himself with his feet (and that's some length to go to just to screw the insurance company) it was probably murder.

Then of course there's Christopher Reeve--eerily similar surname, eerily similar bad luck. After success in four Superman films he was thrown form his horse in 1995, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down and demonstrating vividly the reasons mankind has largely abandoned horses as a mode of transportation.

Slightly less severe misfortune landed on Richard Pryor who, if being in Superman III wasn't misfortune enough, was later diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Then you have Margot Kidder (Lois Lane) who suffered from bipolar disorder and Marlon Brando (Jor-El) who withdrew from society and dedicated himself to becoming the fattest man on earth.

On the outer edges of the Curse Zone we've got various actors who starred in Superman adaptations and had their careers die on them afterwards. Dean Cain, who played Superman in Lois & Clark, is one example. Those who don't believe in the curse often point out that Cain's co-star Teri Hatcher later went on to star in the long-running TV show Desperate Housewives. On the other hand, those who do believe in the curse often point out that Teri Hatcher later went on to star in the long running TV show Desperate Housewives.

So what caused this one? Did they disturb another ancient burial ground? Well, we like to think the curse was called down by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the two people who created Superman. Having created one of the country's most beloved superheroes while under contract to DC Comics, they were completely screwed out of the royalties.

In 1975 the couple finally were begrudgingly awarded a yearly pension from Warner, DC's parent company, who wanted to avoid bad publicity prior to release of the first film. Though, apparently, the 35 grand a year they paid out wasn't enough to offset the bad karma.

Siegel & Shuster ain't nothin' to fuck with.

That, or the "curse" is just a series of meaningless coincidences.

Most Tenuous Link to the Curse:

According to inside sources, (again, Wikipedia), "In 1963 John F. Kennedy's staff approved of a Superman story in which the hero touts the president's physical fitness initiatives, scheduled to be published with an April 1964 cover date. On November 22, Kennedy was shot and killed." To our knowledge, this is the first time Superman has been touted as the second gunman.

Atuk (Unreleased)

The Curse:

Atuk is a "hilarious" fish out of water screenplay about an Eskimo who comes to New York. It was never filmed however because people in Hollywood just don't know a good thing when they see it. Oh and also, it killed John Belushi.

Belushi had read the script and was interested in the role when he died of a drug overdose in 1982. So what, right? But everything, as Einstein once said, is relative. And everything, as a Cracked editor once said, can be made to look like it's connected for the purposes of a comedy article.

No pictures from Atuk actually exist. This is just an Eskimo we found.

After Belushi's death the lead role went to comedian Sam Kinison. Numerous problems delayed production, Kinison demanded parts of the movie be re-written and production was halted. A few years passed, the script remained cursed and Kinison died in a car crash. The curse had apparently struck again.

The film's lead role was then passed to John Candy in 1994. Candy took the script completely unaware that it was cursed (Read: a fish out of water comedy about an Eskimo) and promptly died of a heart attack. The screenplay was buried in Hollywood somewhere and all chubby comedians swore to stay clear of the film for good.

Except for Chris Farley, who in 1997 was also in talks for the lead role when he died of a drug overdose.

Most Tenuous Link to the Curse:

In 1994, the same year John Candy was murdered (by a screenplay), Michael O'Donoghue died. Who's Michael O'Donoghue? Well, he was John Belushi's friend. Man, that's creepy.

Rosemary's Baby

The Curse:

Rosemary's Baby is a 1968 Roman Polanski film about a Manhattan woman whose husband signs a Faustian pact with the Satan-worshipping cult next door.

The film's composer died of a brain clot one year after making the film, the same way a character in the film dies. Then producer William Castle suffered kidney failure soon after the film was made, and swore the movie was cursed after crying out "Rosemary, for God's sake drop that knife" while being treated.

But those stories aside, the curse is mainly built around the insanely shitty luck of Roman Polanski. In March of 1969 Polanski had bought a house for himself and his 8 months pregnant wife Sharon Tate. Unfortunately, Polanski had broken the first rule of real estate: never buy a house from someone who pissed off Charles Manson.

The former owner of the house was music producer Terry Melcher, who had previously refused to record Manson's music. Manson expressed his disappointment by ordering his cult to go to Polanski's house. There, they killed Sharon Tate, her unborn baby and four others, stabbing the victims multiple times. After the murders, one of the killers took a rag, soaked up some of Tate's blood and wrote "pig" on the front door with it. So as curses go it was a lot worse than the crooked pictures thing.

Polanski was in London at the time and thus survived the onslaught. He went on to have a successful career, critical flop Pirates aside, free from problems. Oh, except later when he was charged with statutory rape. He could try to blame the curse for that one but we don't think it would hold up in court.

Most Tenuous Link to the Curse:

The Manson family nicknamed their murder spree "Helter Skelter" after the Beatles song. Later, John Lennon would be murdered outside his hotel The Dakota. This was the same hotel used in some scenes of Rosemary's Baby. A coincidence? Yes.

The Conqueror

The Curse:

When you think of Genghis Khan (Mongolian, conqueror of half the known world, shrewd military tactician, Mongolian, mass murderer, Mongolian, vengeful, Mongolian) who do you picture? John Wayne, right? Exactly. And that's why he was an inspired casting choice for Howard Hughes' 1956 epic The Conqueror. Speaking before the film was made, Wayne said "the way the screenplay reads it's a cowboy picture, and that's how I'm going to play Genghis Khan. I see him as a gunfighter."

On the set of The Conqueror.

Speaking during the film, as Genghis Kahn, Wayne said "There are moment's fer wisdom, Juh-mooga, then I listen to you. And there are moment's fer action, then I listen to my blood. I feel this Tartar wuh-man is fer me, and my blood says, 'TAKE HER!"

So clearly a film headed for success and mass universal critical acclaim. Damn you, supernatural curse!

At one point a flash flood nearly killed the entire crew. Having survived that, lead actress Susan Hayward survived an attack by a black panther.

Unfortunately for Susan and the rest of the cast, health and safety regulations weren't quite as strict in the 1950s as they are now. For instance, stuntmen didn't have to wear any kind of harness, fire drills weren't mandatory and movies could be filmed downwind from Nevada desert above-ground nuclear test facilities.

Thus the actors and crew were exposed to nuclear fallout for the 13 weeks they filmed in Snow Canyon, downwind from the Yucca Flats were the US Army tested 11 atomic bombs. The rest of the movie was filmed in Hollywood, but Howard Hughes managed to maintain the integrity of the movie's Mongolian setting by shipping 60 tones of nuclear contaminated dirt from Snow Canyon back to Hollywood.

Over the next few years, 91 of the 220 crew members developed cancer, 46 died including John Wayne, Susan Hayward and the director. One of the film's other stars, Pedro Armendariz, committed suicide when he found out his cancer was terminal.

In his last days, Howard Hughes, with his beard and fingernails grown disturbingly long, living a now reclusive lifestyle, reportedly watched The Conqueror over and over again, racked with guilt, as he waited for the sweet embrace of death.

Good movie though.

Most Tenuous Link to the Curse:

It's claimed that during filming, the actors had to endure temperatures of over 120 degree heat! That's unheard of, except, you know, in deserts, like the one they were filming in.

The Omen

The Curse:

No film in history has had worse luck than The Omen. Hell, nothing in history has had worse luck than The Omen. The Jews have had better luck.

During filming scriptwriter David Seltzer's plane was hit by lighting, as was star Gregory Peck's, as was executive producers Mace Neufelds'.

Lucky for all of them, lighting doesn't strike twice. But know what does? IRA bombings. A hotel Neufeld was staying at during production was bombed by the IRA, as was a restaurant the director and actors were scheduled to eat at. Luckily no one died.

An assistant to special effects consultant John Richardson on the other hand, wasn't quite as lucky. On Friday the 13th of August 1976, Richardson crashed his car in Holland. His assistant was sliced through by the car's front wheel. Scrambling out of the wreckage, Richardson looked up and saw a road sign: Ommen, 66.6km.

Hey, you know that movie that killed everyone? Let's make it again.

One of the film's tiger handler's died. Gregory Peck's son shot himself. A plane scheduled for use in the film, which was rescheduled and used for a commercial flight instead, crashed and killed everyone on board.

We're not saying we believe in curses. We're just saying we should probably stop making movies about Satan.

Most Tenuous Link to the Curse:

A stuntman who worked on The Omen later hospitalised himself while working on the film A Bridge Too Far. Which is creepy. Except he's a stuntman. And deliberately threw himself off a roof.

Find out some much less awesome true back-stories in 7 Movies Based on a True Story (That Are Complete Bullshit) or read up on some movies you'll be glad were "cursed" in The 6 Worst Movies Hollywood Almost Made. And is once again back to normal on the iPhone. Sorry for the temporary lapse in hipness.

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