Most of us enjoy a good scare from time to time. But a big part of the appeal is that we know scary movies aren’t real. What happens when the horror happening behind the scenes eclipses the film? You end up with cursed film sets and an actual body count.
These are the most notorious cursed film shoots in history. The stories below will make you think of the movies in a whole new light. Please be advised that there are both scares and spoilers in this post.
Considered by many to be one of the greatest horror films of all time, “The Exorcist” set was just as harrowing. A series of accidents and injuries plagued the cast and crew. Oh, and it turned out a real-life serial killer had a small role in the film.
During the filming of the movie, the home being used as the set for the MacNiel family residence burned down. Well, all except the one the filmmakers had been using as the possessed girl’s bedroom. That room remained untouched. Both Linda Blair (Regan MacNiel) and Ellen Burstyn (Regan’s mother) were injured on set; in fact, Burstyn suffered from a serious spinal injury.
If that wasn’t enough, a total of nine deaths are linked to the movie’s production. That includes actors Jack MacGowran and Vasiliki Malioros, both of whom passed away before the film premiered. Weirdly enough, their characters also died in the movie.
And what was that about a serial killer? The man in this scene operating the medical equipment used to test poor young Regan is Paul Bateson. He was convicted of killing Addison Verrill, a film journalist, in 1979 and sentenced to a minimum of 20 years in prison. However, police believe that Bateson was actually a serial killer who murdered multiple gay men in New York City. He was released from prison after 24 years.
We’re not saying the devil is real, but somebody didn’t want the 1976 horror film “The Omen” to get made. A suspicious number of gruesome deaths and near-misses surrounded the production of the film.
Star Gregory Peck lost his son to suicide shortly before filming began, and on the way to London to start shooting the movie, his plane was struck by lightning. The executive producer’s plane was also struck by lightning. And right after cancelling the flight, a private charter plane that would have been carrying actors and crew crashed and killed everybody on board.
But the grisliest story to come out of “The Omen” set is what happened to special effects master John Richardson. He crafted the shocking scene where poor David Warner gets decapitated by a sheet of glass. While the film was in post-production, Richardson was in a car wreck. He walked away, but the woman in the passenger seat was decapitated during the crash.
No film series is more haunted by tragedy than “Poltergeist.” In 1982, actress Dominique Dunne (Dana from the first film) was murdered by her ex-boyfriend. She was just 22 years old, and “Poltergeist” was her first movie.
Then tragedy struck again when the cherubic blonde child actress who played Carol Anne in the first three films died in 1988. She died at the age of 12 from cardiac arrest and septic shock, following a misdiagnosed bowel obstruction.
Julian Beck, who played the villain in the second “Poltergeist” film, passed away before it could be released. Oh, and another actor passed away right after filming the third film. Will Sampson died in 1987 after shooting several scenes with Heather O’Rourke.
The cause for the curse has long been attributed to the pool scene, in which a screaming JoBeth Williams falls into a muddy pool full of skeletons and coffins. Those skeletons weren’t props–they were real human remains. Considering that the film’s moral is that building a house on a burial ground is a bad idea, it was pretty wild that they decided to use real bodies.
Apparently, the real bones were cheaper than making fakes out of rubber.