Everyone’s heard of movies that are cursed. One terrible event after another happens on set, things go horribly wrong, the movie goes way over budget. Sometimes, people even die. But it’s not a curse, it’s just bad luck.
Well, sometimes there’s just one little detail that elevates movie curses from “Oh, that sucks” to “Please, hand me the fucking holy water.”
Everyone and their grandma has heard of the Poltergeist curse. Several problems arose throughout filming and, tragically, several of the actors and crew died within a few years after working on the film. The curse even has its own origin. According to legend, the film used real skeletons in the swimming pool scene at the end of the film (which is actually true), and, just like in the film, an angry spirit got, well, angry.
One of the saddest deaths that’s attributed to the curse is that of Heather O’Rourke, the young girl who played Carol Anne in all three films in the series. She abruptly died from an intestinal blockage at the tender age of 12 on February 1, 1988 in San Diego. It also happens to be the only death that appears to have been foreshadowed in the film itself.
Poltergeist, which was released in 1982, features a shot in Robbie’s (Carol Anne’s older brother) bedroom which prominently shows a Super Bowl XXII poster. What’s wrong with that? Super Bowl XXII hadn’t happened yet. It wouldn’t be played until six years later. Why was there a poster for a game that wouldn’t happen for six years? Is Poltergeist set in the future? It doesn’t seem to be.
But the really weird part about that poster? Super Bowl XXII happened on January 31, 1988. One day before Heather O’Rourke’s death. And where was that Super Bowl held? San Diego, the city where O’Rourke died. Cue shivers.
3. The Passion of the Christ
If you missed out on Passion of the Christ and genuinely don’t know what it’s about, I can sum it up for you in one word: Hamdingers. Wait, no, I meant Jesus. Yeah, it’s Jesus. You probably read the novelization of this one at some point, or maybe you just had it spoiled for you, but it’s pretty straightforward.
This film’s curse wasn’t quite as tragic as Poltergeist’s. No one died (so far as we know) unless you count Mel Gibson’s career, but that came later. Mostly, it was just a lot of really awful things happening to Jim Caviezel, the actor who played Jesus. He got hypothermia, dislocated his shoulder and even accidentally had a hunk of flesh ripped out during a flogging scene. Jesus Christ, right? Right??
But perhaps the eeriest accident during filming happened in the scene where Jesus gives his famous Sermon on the Mount. Moments after the cameras started rolling, Caviezel was struck with a bolt of lightning. Not only that, but a production assistant, Jan Michelini, who ran up to check on him got struck right after. And that was Michelini’s second time being struck by lightning during the production. That’s three lightning strikes on one movie set.
Imagine how rare it is to get struck by lightning. Now imagine how rare it is to get struck by lightning twice. Now put those together and don’t forget to take the geographic area and time span of the filming into consideration.
Fortunately, neither man was seriously injured.
2. Rosemary’s Baby
Rosemary’s Baby was kind of a crappy time for everyone. Mia Farrow’s husband, Frank Sinatra, divorced her during the shoot. The film’s composer died of a blood clot, not unlike a character in the film. Producer William Castle’s kidney failed, which he claimed was because the film was cursed. (Of course, Castle was a notorious showman.)
Perhaps the most shocking event supposedly related to the curse was the murder of Roman Polanski’s wife, Sharon Tate, at the hands of Charles Manson’s followers, the Manson Family. The Family broke into Polanski’s house (which they may have mistakenly believed was still occupied by music producer Terry Melcher, who denied Manson a record deal) and killed Tate and their unborn child in 1969, a year after Rosemary’s Baby was finished.
Where it gets weird is the strange connections between Rosemary’s Baby, The Beatles and Manson. You see, Charles Manson was really influenced by the Beatles songs “Helter Skelter” and “Piggies,” which he used to build his entire insane philosophy. The Beatles also happened to write a song called “Dear Prudence,” which was written for and about star Mia Farrow’s younger sister, Prudence. (Furthermore, all three songs were on The White Album.) And if that weren’t weird enough, John Lennon was killed in 1980 outside the Dakota, the apartment building where Rosemary’s Baby was filmed.
1. Twilight Zone: The Movie
The anthology film based on the anthology TV series is pretty much only known for one thing, and it’s not William Shatner freaking out about gremlins. (That was on the TV show.) A terrible helicopter crash on set killed actor Vic Morrow and his two young co-stars, Myca Dinh Le and Renee Shin-Yi Chen. When the helicopter lost control after a pyrotechnics accident, it crashed directly on top of the three actors, crushing Chen and decapitating Morrow and Le. None of the passengers in the helicopter were killed, though all were injured.
After the accident, director John Landis and the film’s crew spent several years in court to prove that they weren’t at fault for the crash. The families of all three actors eventually settled. While the film wasn’t otherwise cursed, the helicopter crash was tragic enough that it fairly well tainted the rest of the film. (Even creepier, the cameras were actually running during the accident. Luckily, they had the good sense to destroy the film afterward.)
But the tragedy takes on a very eerie tone when you look back through Vic Morrow’s filmography. One of his earlier films, Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry includes a scene where Morrow’s character is supposed to fly a helicopter. According to legend, Morrow refused to get into the helicopter, saying “I have a premonition that I’m going to die in a helicopter crash.” Of course, the story is apocryphal and there’s no evidence that it really happened. But it is worth noting that the theme song in Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry is titled “Time (Is Such a Funny Thing)”.
The title of the segment where Morrow was killed? “Time Out”.
Coincidence? Yeah, probably.