Some scary movies are actually quite a fun set to work on. All the actors and crew know the tension of what they’re creating, so the actual sets are relaxed, enjoyable environments, to help take the edge off. Sometimes, however, the terrifying subject matter of certain films can seep into their surroundings and lead many people to believe that the film sets – and the films themselves – are cursed.
Freak accidents, untimely deaths, mysterious illnesses, and random acts of God can plague a production with such frequency or violence that even those who worked behind the scenes come to the conclusion that production has been hexed by something otherworldly. Even movies that aren’t of the horror genre can find themselves battling such cursed circumstances, leading us to wonder what might have happened to earn such supernatural wrath – and if there are more cursed films to come.
20 The Conqueror
Not the typical film you’d think would be classified as “cursed”, 1956’s The Conqueror began with a flash flood that killed most of its crew! Then, lead actress Susan Hayward was attacked by a panther before much of the cast and crew were exposed to nuclear fallout. As a result, the director, lead cast, and much of the crew were all diagnosed with some form of cancer.
19 The Exorcism of Emily Rose
A film about demonic possession has “cursed” written all over it! According to lead Jennifer Carpenter, creepy things began happening as she filmed the movie which was based on the real life exorcism case of Annaliese Michel. Her stereo would turn on of its own accord and at one point woke Carpenter up blaring the Peal Jam song “Alive”.
18 The Possession
Another tale of demonic possession, this movie concerned Jewish folklore – and a box that caused some major issues. Actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan – a self-professed skeptic – recalled instances where light bulbs burst and gusts of cold air happened on closed sets. After filming wrapped, the storage container holding the props suddenly caught fire, burning down the evil dybbuk box with it.
17 The Amityville Horror
The Amityville Horror was made twice – first in 1979 and then again in 2005 (with many assorted sequels and retellings in between). While 1979 stars Josh Brolin and Margot Kidder didn’t experience much in the way of freakiness, Ryan Reynolds did. The cast and crew were randomly awoken at 3:15am – the time of the real murders – and the body of a dead fisherman washed up on shore.
Many men have filled Superman’s cape over the decades and most have been cursed for it. First is actor George Reeves, who may have shot himself, except his fingerprints weren’t found on the gun. Next was Christopher Reeve, who was paralyzed after being thrown from his horse. Others in the franchise include Margot Kidder and Marlon Brando, who suffered from mental illness and/or became recluses.
15 The Innkeepers
Probably the least famous on this list, The Innkeepers still suffered from a cursed set – which makes sense, since they filmed in the haunted Yankee Pedlar Inn in Connecticut! The crew spoke of cold spots, seeing strange things, and witnessing lightbulbs shattering. One actress almost quite because of the terrifying dreams she began having!
14 Rebel Without A Cause
For all his fame, James Dean was actually only in a handful of films throughout his career – which some say was tragically cut short due to Rebel Without A Cause.
It was the last role of Dean’s career before he died in a car accident; costar Sal Mineo was later stabbed in an alleyway; and love interest Natalie Wood met an untimely demise in a mysterious boating accident.
Bad luck seems to follow anyone who plays Terminator hero John Connor. First up is Edward Furlong, who was arrested four times; next was Nick Stahl, who was arrested twice in less than a year; Thomas Dekker of the TV series hit a cyclist with his car; and finally Christian Bale had a career setback when a video went viral of him berating a crew member on the set.
12 The Passion of the Christ
Nothing quite proves God’s wrath like getting struck by lightning! That’s what happened to Passion star Jim Caviezel while filming the Sermon on the Mount scene. Caviezel also suffered a dislocated shoulder and torn flesh while shooting the controversial Mel Gibson movie. Assistant director Jan Michelini was also struck by lightning – twice!
11 The Twilight Zone
A tragedy befell the 1983 set of The Twilight Zone when a helicopter accident decapitated actor Vic Morrow and crushed a young child actor. Tragic, but cursed? Well, as it turns out, Morrow had had a premonition about dying in a helicopter accident and had taken out a $1 million life insurance policy!
10 The Dark Knight
Despite the critical and commercial success of the movie, many believed that The Dark Knight was hexed. The three main stars – Heath Ledger, Christian Bale, and Morgan Freeman – also suffered some misfortune: Ledger passed away, Bale was arrested, and Freeman was in a car accident. A crewman was also killed during the filming of an intense action scene.
9 The Nun
A spooky (if mediocre) movie requires a spooky set – for real! According to the director of The Nun, Corin Hardy, he witnessed two ghostly apparitions: Two men sat in the back of a small side room. Hardy assumed they were crew members but when he turned to speak to them, they had disappeared!
8 The Conjuring
The precursor to The Nun (and part of the same universe) is The Conjuring. Star Vera Farmiga reported finding mysterious claw marks on her laptop and a fire broke out at the hotel everyone stayed at. Director James Wan also recalled his puppy barking at nothing while phone calls with the real Lorraine Warren were often filled with static or cut out completely.
Another film in the Conjuring franchise is Annabelle, which saw the same mysterious claw marks appear on the set, much like the talons of the demonic creature possessing the creepy doll. Another spooky occurrence happened when actor/composer Joseph Bishara accidentally knocked a light fixture onto another actor playing a janitor – who was supposed to die in exactly that manner in the film!
6 Rosemary’s Baby
Considered one of the most cursed films in movie history, death befell many who worked on it. The composer died of a brain clot one year after the movie was made; producer William Castle suffered from kidney failure after receiving threats to that exact fate; and Sharon Tate, wife of director Roman Polanski, was murdered by the Manson Family while eight months pregnant.
5 The Wizard of Oz
For all its vivid color, The Wizard of Oz has quite a dark history. Wicked Witch Margaret Hamilton was badly burned by a stunt that went awry while star Judy Garland fell into a lifetime of depression and addiction. The Wizard, Frank Morgan, was in an accident that crippled his wife, and the woman who played Auntie Em later took her own life.
4 The Crow
Some afore-mentioned stunts have harmed their actors, but in the case of Brandon Lee, one took his life.
While filming The Crow, a gun with a rubber bullet also had a metal shard in it, which killed the actor instantly. As the son of Bruce Lee, who himself died at only 32 after having premonitions to that effect, the freak accident takes on a much spookier edge.
3 The Exorcist
The shocking nature of the movie likely contributed to superstitions about it being cursed, but The Exorcist suffered from an on-set fire, serious injuries for its stars, and eight deaths of those who worked on the movie. At the Rome premiere, a 400-year-old cross fell from a church after being struck by lightning, adding a major dose of spookiness.
2 The Omen
Lightning struck four times for The Omen: Gregory Peck, screenwriter David Seltzer, executive producer Mace Neufeld, and producer Harvey Bernhard were all almost killed by lightning during filming. Animals also ran wild as if possessed: the Rottweilers attacked their trainers and an animal handler was eaten by a tiger just two weeks later.
Arguably the most cursed movie franchise in history is the Poltergeist trilogy. From having real skeletons on the set to the murder of actress Dominique Dunne by her boyfriend to a prop malfunction that nearly cost the life of actor Oliver Robins to the untimely death of young Heather O’Rourke, everyone who was associated with the trilogy seems to agree that it was hexed.