10 Cursed Horror Movies With Chilling Behind-The-Scenes Stories
Most horror movies are intended to scare the living daylights out of audiences, but there's usually comfort in remembering that they're all smoke and mirrors. It's a chilling premise; smart script; creepy special effects, lighting, and makeup; and convincing actors that make the final product terrifying. But while you might think that horror movies are more frightening to watch than they are to make, there are some who might say otherwise. Read on for some stories from allegedly cursed horror movies that blur the line between reality and fiction.
While non-believers would write these stories off as coincidences or publicity stunts, some of them are just too freaky to ignore. Jump scares and artificial gore are nothing compared to these disturbing and — in some cases — unexplained events, such as set fires, suspicious deaths, paranormal encounters, and sudden illnesses. While it's usually the cast and crew who are subject to spooky occurrences in these stories, there are also accounts of family members, significant others, and even audience members dealing with a supposed curse.
Not all of these stories come with solid proof or support, so take them with a grain of salt. But in the case of cursed horror movies, even the rumors are pretty bone-chilling.
1. 'Rosemary's Baby'
Vanity Fair dubbed 1968's Rosemary's Baby "The Most Cursed Hit Movie Ever Made." After it debuted and and received much critical acclaim, unfortunate events befell some of those involved in making the film. Polish jazz musician and composer for the film, Krzysztof Komeda, slipped into a coma after a bad fall and died in April of 1969, according to the artist's website. Per Vanity Fair, producer William Castle was hospitalized with severe kidney stones. Actor Sharon Tate, who was married to director Roman Polanski, was murdered by the Manson Family in 1969 when she was pregnant with their child.
According to The New York Times, Dominique Dunne, who played Dana Freeling, was murdered shortly after the film came out in 1982. People reported in 1983 that her ex-boyfriend John Sweeney was convicted of voluntary manslaughter for her death.
Five years later, Heather O'Rourke, who appeared in both Poltergeist and Poltergeist 2, died at age 12 due to a misdiagnosed intestinal issue, also per People.
3. 'The Conjuring'
Vera Farmiga told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that something mysterious happened when she was seeking out information about Lorraine Warren, the real paranormal investigator she would portray in the film. "I had, for several hours, been researching Lorraine and watching YouTube videos, and I closed my computer screen, and I spoke with James [Wan, the director]," she said. "We hung up, I opened my laptop and there were these digital claw marks, and the film experience began with that."
Also, one morning after filming was over, Farmiga woke in her own bed and noticed a bruise and three scratches on her thigh.
4. 'The Exorcism Of Emily Rose'
Jennifer Carpenter, who plays the possessed titular character in the 2005 movie, told Dread Central that her radio "came on by itself" a few times during filming. "The only time it scared me was once, because it was really loud and it was Pearl Jam’s 'Alive,'" she added. The actor also claimed that her costar Laura Linney experienced a similar thing with her TV.
5. 'The Omen'
As reported by The New York Times, in June 1975 (which was two months before filming began), star Gregory Peck's son Jonathan died by suicide. There are claims that Peck's plane was struck by lightning just as he was on his way to London for the shoot and that executive producer Mace Neufeld's plane to Los Angeles was also struck. However, neither of these incidents are corroborated by an official news report.
Special effects artist John Richardson was in a car crash working on his next project, A Bridge Too Far. He survived, but his passenger, assistant Liz Moore, died. “He had a beautiful girlfriend,” The Omen producer Harvey Bernhard told the Los Angeles Times. “He was driving in Belgium with her and he hit a truck. The girl was beheaded.”
In the same piece, Bernhard claims that the animal handler who helped with the scene in the 1976 film wherein rogue, demonic baboons attack the Thorn family's car was mauled and killed by a tiger after shooting wrapped.
6. 'The Exorcist'
The curse on the 1973 film allegedly caused multiple misfortunes. Per iNews, the MacNeil home set burned down when a bird flew into a circuit box. However, the fire didn't damage the room where the exorcism scenes took place.
On a 2014 appearance on Huffpost Live, Ellen Burstyn (Chris MacNeil) acknowledged that she permanently injured her back in the scene where Regan pushes her mother.
7. 'The Twilight Zone'
Per Slate, Vic Morrow (Bill Connor), Renee Chen, and Myca Dinh Le were killed in a helicopter crash while filming a scene in the 1983 film adaptation where Connor saves two Vietnamese children.
In May of 1987, per the Los Angeles Times, director John Landis, Dorcey Wingo, who was manning the helicopter, and three other men involved in the production were found not guilty of involuntary manslaughter charges brought after the crash. And in June of 1987, another Los Angeles Times article reported that civil suits against director Landis and others involved in the production were settled. According to Slate, the filmmakers admitted that they had disregarded child labor laws on the production.
Still, because of the tragedy, Hollywood got a wakeup call regarding safety measures on sets and many of the systems still used today were put in motion. “The Twilight Zone accident created my job,” risk-management consultant Chris Palmer told Slate. "It was a sea change in the movie industry. No one in risk management was ever on set before then."
8. 'The Innkeepers'
The Innkeepers director Ti West told The Litchfield County Times that he was inspired to write the film — about two employees who try to prove that a ghost haunts the inn before it closes for good — while he and the rest of his crew on 2009's The House of the Devil were staying at The Yankee Pedlar Inn in Torrington, Connecticut. The inn has had a longstanding reputation for being haunted, and people who worked there were happy to share their stories. "After a few nights, I started talking with the staff here and that’s when I heard about the ghost stories," West told Interview. "I don’t believe in ghosts, but weird shit did happen."
West also told the magazine that when he returned to shoot The Innkeepers at The Yankee Pedlar, he directly experienced some strange happenings. "Lights have turned off and on by themselves in my room. My phone rang and no one was on the line, which the hotel staff says happens all the time," he said. "There are nights when I wake up in my room and it feels like somebody is in there."
9. 'The Possession'
In an interview with Gizmodo, actors Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Natasha Calis made it clear they wanted nothing to do with the original dybbuk box that inspired 2012's The Possession.
The plot of the film has nothing to do with the story that went viral in the early '00s, of a cabinet purchased on eBay that reportedly brought misfortune to everyone who handled it. The urban legend says that the source of the mishaps is the dybbuk — in Jewish folklore, an evil spirit that possesses the living. But the curse may have followed the box, regardless of the changes made for the movie.
"I'm a skeptic, look I'm not going to lie. That being said, there was some weird goings on on set. Lots of light bulbs exploding," Morgan told Gizmodo. "Just overall kind of creepiness... 'Don't mock the box,' was sort of the mantra that we lived by while we were filming this."
Director John Leonetti told The Hollywood Reporter himself that the set of The Conjuring spinoff was haunted. "We went into the apartment where we were shooting, and in the transient window above the living room window. It was a full moon, and there were three fingers drawn through the dust along the window, and our demon has three fingers and three talons. [The markings] were being backlit by the moon. I have a picture! It was sick," the filmmaker said.
"The first day that the demon was shooting in full makeup, we brought the demon up in the elevator," producer Peter Safran recalled to THR. "He walks out and walks around to the green room to where we’re holding the talent, and just as he walks under — a giant glass light fixture is being followed by the actor playing the handyman of the building — and all of a sudden the entire glass light fixture falls down on his head, the janitor‘s head. And in the script the demon kills the janitor in that hallway. It was totally freaky."
Because of all these freaky incidents, the filmmakers decided to take precautions for 2019's Annabelle Comes Home, asking a priest to bless the set. "Mr. Father Tom, who was our priest — he was very, very kind and nice and he gave me a rosary that was blessed by the Pope Francis," young actor McKenna Grace told reporters. "He brought holy water and he recited this prayer in the artifact room. And he blessed me and [co-stars] Madison [Inman] and Katie [Sarife] ... It was a really cool experience."
Whether you believe in curses or not, these behind-the-scenes stories add a new level of creepiness to some horror classics.