In a world, where the midnight train podcast is at the top of the podcast game, one thing has the power to destroy everything they have worked for. This week their world will come crumbling down as everything they've achieved will be tested and possibly destroyed due to the madness that is (dun dun duuuuuuuunnnnn) cursed Movies!!!
Tonight on the midnight train we are combining two of our favorite things…. This podcast and lots and lots of beer…YEAH! Oh wait, we do that every week… Oh, that's right, it’s this podcast and….moooovies!! But… In true midnight train fashion, we can't just talk about movies…. We're gonna talk about cursed movies!!! That's right we are going to look at movies that for one reason or another have led to tragedy during and after the movies were made! Everything is on the table from health issues like cancer, accidental deaths while filming, people going crazy after filming, and just about everything else you can think of. Should be a fun and creepy ride discussing all these movies with you passengers and, in case you're wondering, yes we're still going to have a movies list at the end.
Ok so let's get into this and see what we have as far as cursed movies!
We're gonna start it with a big one since we just covered the subject matter of the film! The first cursed movie on our list is the exorcist. The filming of THE EXORCIST was done over nine months. The main set, a reproduction of the Georgetown home, was built in a warehouse in New York. During the filming, several curious incidents and accidents took place on the set and plagued those involved with the production. In addition, the budget of the film rose from $5 million to more than twice that amount. Obviously, any film production that lasts for more than a month or so will see its share of accidents and mishaps, but THE EXORCIST seems to have been particularly affected by unforeseeable calamities. Coincidence? Perhaps, but it left the cast and crew rightfully shaken.
The first incident occurred around 2:30 a.m. one Sunday morning when a fire broke out on the set. There was only one security guard at the Ceco 54th Street Studios when the McNeil house set caught fire and burned. The fire was the result of a bad electrical circuit, but it shut down filming for six weeks while the set was reconstructed from scratch. Ironically, as soon as the new set was ready, the sprinkler system broke down, causing an additional two-week delay.
Few of the actors in the film escaped personal troubles during the shoot. Just as Max Von Sydow (who played Father Merrin) touched down in New York to film his first scenes, he received a phone call saying that his brother died unexpectedly in Sweden. Von Sydow himself later became very ill during the filming. Irish actor Jack MacGowran (who played Burke Dennings) died only one week after his character was killed by the demon in the movie. Jason Miller (who played Father Karras) was stunned when his young son, Jordan, was struck down on an empty beach by a motorcyclist who appeared out of nowhere. The boy ALMOST died. THAT'S GOOD NEWS! Ellen Burstyn (who played Chris McNeill) wrenched her back badly during one scene when she was slapped by the possessed girl. The stunt went badly awry and she was laid up in bed for several weeks afterward, causing more delays in the filming. They had a rig attached to her where a guy offscreen would pull a rope that was tied to her to get that “smacked hard as shit and launched across the room” look the director wanted. Apparently, the director didn’t like the first take or two and told the guy with the rope to yoke the living piss out of her. He got his shot. She screwed up her back.
In New York, one of the carpenters accidentally cut off his thumb on the set and one of the lighting technicians lost a toe. This was all over the news at the time due to the mixup at the hospital where they put the wrong appendages on the wrong patients. Yep, they switched the toe for the thumb. And if you believed that, well… I’m not sorry even a little bit. Anyway, The exorcist's location trip to Iraq was delayed from the spring, which is relatively cool, to July, the hottest part of the summer, when the temperature rose to 130 degrees and higher. Out of the eighteen-man crew that was sent there, Friedkin lost the services of nine of them, at one time or another, due to dysentery (which is super shitty) or sunstroke. To make matters worse, the bronze statue of the neo-Assyrian winged demon Pazazu, which was packed in a ten-foot crate, got lost in an air shipment from Los Angeles and ended up in Hong Kong, which caused another two-week delay.
"I don't know if it was a jinx, really," actress Ellen Burstyn later said. "But there were some really strange goings-on during the making of the film. We were dealing with some really heavy material and you don't fool around with that kind of material without it manifesting in some way. There were many deaths in the film. Linda's grandfather died, the assistant cameraman's wife had a baby that died, the man who refrigerated the set died, the janitor who took care of the building was shot and killed … I think overall there were nine deaths during the course of the film, which is an incredible amount… it was scary." Unholy shit, batman!
Things got so bad that William Friedkin took some drastic measures. Father Thomas Bermingham, S.J., from the Jesuit community at Fordham University, had been hired as a technical advisor for the film, along with Father John Nicola, who, while not a Jesuit, had been taught by Jesuit theologians at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois. Friedkin came to Bermingham and asked him to exorcise the set. The priest was unable to perform an actual exorcism, but he did give a solemn blessing in a ceremony that was attended by everyone then on the set, from Max Von Sydow to the technicians and grips. "Nothing else happened on the set after the blessing,” Bermingham stated, "but around that time, there was a fire in the Jesuit residence set in Georgetown."
And while nothing else tragic occurred on the set, strange events and odd coincidences were reported during the post-production work on the film. "There were strange images and visions that showed up on film that were never planned," Friedkin later claimed. "There are double exposures in the little girl's face at the end of one reel that are unbelievable."
As we talked about in previous episodes, The film opened on December 26, 1973, to massive crowds. Within weeks of the first public screenings of the film, stories started to make the rounds that audience members were fainting and vomiting in the theaters. There were also reports of disturbing nightmares and reportedly, several theater ushers had to be placed under a doctor’s care, or quit their jobs, after experiencing successive showings of the movie. In numerous cities that were checked after THE EXORCIST had run for several weeks, reporters found that every major hospital had been forced to deal with patients who reported, after seeing the film, severe cases of vomiting and hallucinations. There were also reports of people being carried out of theaters in stretchers. What do you think, passengers? Mere publicity stunts, or was this the real thing?
The info for this cursed movie came from a great article on americanhauntingsink.com check them out!
Next up we're gonna dive into a sweet little movie about a tree, a child’s toy, and REAL SKELETONS IN THE SWIMMING POOL! Yep, you guessed it, poltergeist! The curse of Poltergeist spawned many theories about why the movie and its sequels were cursed with so much tragedy, with one suggesting the use of real-life human bones in the original film caused the hauntings.
Actress JoBeth Williams - who played the mother, Diane Freeling - is seen dropping into a pool of skeletons in one spooky scene and she later reveals the bones were real. She told TVLand: "In my innocence and naiveté, I assumed that these were not real skeletons.
"I assumed that they were prop skeletons made out of plastic or rubber . . . I found out, as did the crew, that they were using real skeletons, because it’s far too expensive to make fake skeletons out of rubber."
Just four months after the film's release, tragedy struck with actress Dominique Dunne, who played the family's eldest daughter Dana, who became the victim of a grisly murder. On the day before Halloween in 1982, the actress, 22, was strangled by her ex-boyfriend John Thomas Sweeney outside their home in West Hollywood.
She survived the attack but was left in a coma. She never regained consciousness and died five days later. Sweeney was later convicted of voluntary manslaughter and spent three and half years of a six-year sentence behind bars for the killing. He changed his name to John Maura so if you want to let him know what a twat he is, I mean… we can’t stop you.
In the years after the film's release movie bosses plowed ahead with plans for a sequel and Poltergeist II: The Other Side hit cinemas in 1986. Among the cast was Will Sampson, best known for playing Chief Bromden in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest opposite Jack Nicholson. The actor - cast as shaman Taylor in the movie - was concerned about the use of real skeletons in the first film and offered to perform a real-life exorcism. He's believed to have conducted the ceremony alone and in the middle of the night, but the cast reportedly felt relieved afterward. However, less than a year after the film's release - the curse had claimed another victim.
Sampson had long-term health problems as he suffered from a degenerative condition called scleroderma, which affected his heart and lungs. He underwent a heart and lung transplant in the summer of 1987 but died of post-operative kidney failure on June 3.
Ok, this one is sad and you’ve probably heard of it. The most famous victim of the Poltergeist curse was Heather O'Rourke. She appeared as Carol Anne in the first two films as well as the third installment, Poltergeist III, which hit cinemas in 1988. She died just four months before the movie's release at only 12 years of age. In January 1988, Heather fell ill with what appeared to be flu-like symptoms. She collapsed at home the following day and was rushed to the hospital. She suffered a cardiac arrest but doctors were able to revive her and they diagnosed her with intestinal stenosis - a partial obstruction of the intestine. She underwent surgery, but went into cardiac arrest again in recovery and doctors were unable to save her. She passed away in February 1988, just weeks after her 12th birthday, and it was later reported she died from congenital stenosis and septic shock. Absolutely heartbreaking.
Character actor Lou Perryman became the second cast member to fall victim to murder. He played Pugsley in the original movie and suffered a brutal end in 1992 when he was hacked to death with an ax aged 67. A convict recently released from prison, Seth Christopher Tatum, confessed he had killed Perryman at his home after coming off his medication and going on a drinking binge. Tatum pleaded guilty to his murder in 2011 and was sentenced to life in prison.
Actor Richard Lawson played one of the parapsychologists, Ryan, in the original film (not the guy who ate the chicken with the maggots… you’re welcome) and he came close to becoming another victim of the curse in 1992. He was involved in a terrifying plane crash in 1992 when the USAir Flight 405 crashed into New York City's Flushing Bay on route to guess where? Cleveland friggin Ohio. The crash claimed the lives of 27 of the 51 passengers, but Lawson was among the survivors.
He put his lucky escape down to a last-minute seat change that saved his life. Lawson went on to be part of showbiz royalty when he married Beyonce's mother, Tina Knowles in 2015.
Info for this movie was taken from mirror.co.uk.
Next up how about… Hmm…. Oh, I know… The omen! The 2976 version of course. Obviously, Moody is a time traveler and saw the upcoming remake, 955 friggin years in the future! No! It was 1976! Of all the world's cursed film productions, The Omen is considered to have one of the worst movie curses of all time. The 1976 film tells the story of a man who accidentally adopts Damien the Antichrist as his son and the movie remains one of horror's most successful franchises. But what was so odious about the set that led producers to believe the devil was punishing them for making the movie? Is The Omen really cursed? The Omen film set haunting includes death, injury, and lots of lightning bolts: after all, the creator himself warned the cast and crew that Satan wasn't going to like what they were doing. Here's what happened behind the scenes of The Omen movie and why, despite its several sequels and a 2006 remake, it remains one of history's movies that indeed may have angered Satan himself!
In June 1975, Gregory Peck's son, Jonathan Peck, killed himself with a bullet to the head, two months before filming was to start. Several strange events then surrounded the production.
For protection on the set of "The Omen," Bernhard wore a Coptic cross. In an interview, Bernhard spoke about the production's eerie events, which included the death of an animal trainer.
Precisely one day after they shot the sequence involving the baboons at the animal center, Bernhard said that a tiger seized the animal trainer by the head, causing his death immediately. Whhhaat the fuuuuuck?
One of the most haunting stories surrounding The Omen didn't happen during the shoot, but during the production of the World War II epic A Bridge Too Far. John Richardson, who did special effects on The Omen, was involved in a head-on collision that beheaded his girlfriend, eerily mirroring the decapitation scene with David Warner. Supposedly, after the crash, Richardson saw a street sign that said, "Ommen, 66.6 km." This accident occurred after The Omen had wrapped production, but many of course linked it to the evil aura of the film.
Several planes were also set ablaze, including the plane carrying Peck and screenwriter David Seltzer. Meanwhile, Bernhard said they had to land in Nova Scotia after flying back from England. He added:
"We had the film on board... Dick [Donner] and I were very, very nervous."
IRA bombs ripped through a hotel, in which executive producer Mace Neufeld and his wife stayed, and another in which prominent executives and stars, including Peck, were to have dinner.
Once word got back to Fox about all the terrible incidents that plagued production, the studio saw it as a great way to drum up a ton of publicity and add to the film's ominous aura. They also put a great tagline into the film's ad campaign:
You have been warned. If something frightening happens to you today, think about it. It may be The Omen.
As Donner recalled in The Omen: Curse or Coincidence, "If we had been making a comedy, you would have recalled all the funny, great, ridiculous, silly moments that happened in that film. if you were doing a love story, you'd remember all the times somebody left their wife, fell in love... You're doing The Omen, anything that happens on that film, you don't tell about the jokes, you don't talk about the love stories, you don't even think about them. You think about things that coincidentally could have been something to do with The Omen. We had lots of them."
Creepy stuff right there my friends.
Next up we have one of my personal all-time favorites, the crow! The Crow began filming in Wilmington, North Carolina, in 1993. Cursed Films revealed that before production got underway, a mysterious caller left a voicemail message warning the crew not to shoot the movie because bad things would happen. Eerily, two on-set electricians were involved in an accident in which their truck hit a live wire. One of the men experienced second and third-degree burns and lost both ears.
Disaster also struck the entire production when a hurricane destroyed the movie set. That is when the “curse of The Crow” rumors began circulating in Hollywood. The star of The Crow, Brandon Lee, was the son of martial arts legend, Bruce Lee. The elder Lee died during the production of his final film. Some fans speculated that the Chinese mafia had placed a hit on the actor for betraying martial arts secrets. Others suspected that he had been struck by an insidious death blow at an earlier time.
The most popular theory about The Dragon’s death is that he was a victim of the Lee Family Curse. His older brother had died, and Lee’s parents believed there was a demon targeting the males in the Lee family.
Like his father, Brandon Lee died before he finished filming The Crow. In a fluke accident, the performer was shot while completing an action sequence, as described in Cursed Films. The crew used what are called ‘dummy rounds,’ for the scene, but there was something in the barrel of the gun that acted as a lethal projectile, killing Lee.
To complete the final photography for The Crow, the man who had been working as Lee’s stunt double wore a mask in his image.
How about some of our patented quick hitters!
The Conqueror" is a whitewashed 1956 film with John Wayne as Genghis Khan. The film was shot at a location downwind from a nuclear testing site, causing dozens of crew members to eventually die of cancer. so maybe not so much a curse as a poor choice of locations.
The horror! Francis Ford Coppola was tempting fate when he decided to film "Apocalypse Now" during monsoon season. Big mistake. The monsoon destroyed multiple sets, Martin Sheen suffered a heart attack during filming, and Coppola was so stressed that he suffered a seizure, according to The Independent. "Apocalypse Now" (1979) turned out to be a masterpiece anyway, but the documentary "Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse" about its making is just as engrossing.
Dysentery. Injuries. Fights among the crew. Nothing seemed to go right during the filming of 1982's "Fitzcarraldo." The story concerns hauling a boat over a hill, which the crew literally accomplished, but not without the same nightmarish difficulty as is depicted in the film. And in the end, director Werner Herzog looked as mad and overly driven as its hero. Check out the documentary "Burden of Dreams" for more.
The Superman Curse
Comic book movie fans may know about the "Superman Curse," which is said to afflict multiple actors involved in Superman films. Christopher Reeve was paralyzed following a horse accident. And Margot Kidder, who played Lois opposite Reeve, suffered from bipolar disorder, according to TCM. Also, the original Superman, George Reeves, supposedly committed suicide. His death at age 45 from a gunshot remains a controversial subject; the official finding was suicide, but some believe that he was murdered or the victim of an accidental shooting.
"The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers"
Bad luck ran amok in Middle Earth during the filming of 2002's "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers." DVD interviews revealed that multiple actors and stuntmen suffered injuries while shooting the film's elaborate fight sequences. The worst was Viggo Mortensen, who broke his toe and chipped his tooth while filming.
The Exorcism of Emily rose
Dexter star Jennifer Carpenter reported that during the making of The Exorcism of Emily Rose — in which she played a big-screen version of German woman Anneliese Michel, whose poor health and subsequent death was blamed on a failed exorcism — her radio would mysteriously turn on and off. From an interview with Dread Central:
Q: A common question when making a film like this; did anything weird happen during filming?
JC: I thought about that when it happened, and two or three times when I was going to sleep my radio came on by itself. The only time it scared me was once because it was really loud and it was Pearl Jam’s “Alive” (laughs). Laura’s TV came on a couple of times.
Q: At 3:00 a.m.?
JC: Mine wasn’t 3:00 a.m. I was born at 3:00 a.m. but it hasn’t happened to me. I did check.
We’ll totally do an episode on Analiese one of these days
Myra Jones (aka Myra Davis) was the uncredited body double/stand-in for Psycho star Janet Leigh during the making of Hitchcock’s 1960 film. A handyman named Kenneth Dean Hunt, who was supposedly a Hitchcock “obsessive,” murdered her.
Real-life ghost hunters Ed and Lorraine Warren, who aided the real-life Amityville Horror case, investigated the haunting of the Perron family home — a farmhouse plagued by generations of death, disaster, and a possessed doll. The case inspired James Wan’s supernatural film, which left some audiences in the Philippines with such a fright there were priests available at screenings to bless viewers and provide counseling. On and off-set paranormal incidents — including strange claw marks on star Vera Farmiga’s computer, Wan’s tormented dog growling at invisible intruders, a strange wind (that apparently put Carolyn Perron in the hospital), and fire — were reported.
Filmed at the reportedly haunted hotel the Yankee Pedlar Inn in Torrington, Connecticut, The Innkeepers director Ti West was skeptical about the strange occurrences during the making of his movie. Still, creepy stories from the set became the focus in the press. From an interview with West:
I’m a skeptic so I don’t really buy it. But I’ve definitely seen doors close by themselves; I’ve seen a TV turn off and on by itself; lights would always burn out in my room. Everyone on the crew has very vivid dreams every night, which is really strange.
The one story that is the most intriguing to me — In the film, the most haunted room is the Honeymoon Suite. That’s where the ghost stuff started in the hotel. The only reason I picked the room that I picked to shoot in, was because it was big enough to do a dolly shot. No more thought went into it other than pure technical reasons. So when we’re finishing the movie, I find out that the most haunted room in real life is the room I picked to be the haunted room in the movie. It could be a coincidence. It’s weird that it happened that way. . . . [Star] Sara Paxton would wake up in the middle of the night thinking someone was in the room with her. Everyone has stories, but I was too busy saying, “Let’s shoot this! We have 17 days!
"Atuk" is a movie so cursed that it never got made. The project, based on a 1963 Mordecai Richler novel about an Eskimo in New York, had four different men attached to play the lead while in development hell through the 1970s and '80s: John Belushi, Sam Kinison, John Candy, and Chris Farley. All four died shortly after entering negotiations to be in the film. Holy shit!
Ok how about twilight zone the movie. The 1983 film 'Twilight Zone: The Movie' directed by John Landis and Steven Spielberg gained publicity pre-release because of the deaths of lead actor Vic Morrow and two child extras during the filming of the helicopter crash scene. The children were illegally hired to play the role in this scene, as Landis would go on to reveal in the subsequent trial. It was also prohibited to make children work after a certain hour in the evening. However, Landis insisted that the scene would have to entail a late-night setting to seem more authentic. This was the last scene in the film. It also included explosions as a helicopter flew over the village while Morrow would run across the street to save the Vietnamese children from the explosion. Testing for the scene sparked concerns when the helicopter seemed to vigorously rock at the explosion but despite this, Landis' need to capture the explosion took priority. He reportedly said, "You think that was big? You ain't seen nothing yet." At the controls of this helicopter was a Vietnam War veteran named Dorcey Wingo, who had just joined the movie business. When the cameras began filming, the pyrotechnic fireball that had been fired as part of the explosion hit the helicopter, engulfing it in flames. The helicopter then crashed into the river where the actors were standing — Morrow, 6-year-old Renee Chen, and 7-year-old Myca Dinh Le. Almost a hundred people were present when the tragedy occurred. The helicopter skidded right onto Renee, crushing her to death and when it toppled over, the main blade sliced through Morrow and Myca.
Rosemary's baby is next up on the list. Over the years, the myth surrounding Roman Polanski’s 1968 film Rosemary’s Baby has only grown in stature. The film is based on the 1967 novel of the same name by American novelist Ira Levin. He came up with the idea for the book in 1965, drawing inspiration from his wife who was pregnant at the time, his New York apartment, and the anxiety of being a parent.
The struggling writer imagined a world where there was no God and the devil was allowed to reign freely. This is evident in the iconic ending where Rosemary finds out that her husband sold her womb to Satan and that her child is the Antichrist. Levin was catapulted into the highest echelons of the literary world due to the success of his novel and a year later, a European auteur who was looking for his own Hollywood break decided to direct the film adaptation of his novel.
However, not everyone was pleased with Levin’s attacks on religion. He faced severe backlash from the Catholic Church for his “blasphemy” and his wife left him the year the film was released. He was never the same man again, growing increasingly paranoid over the years. Levin repeatedly had to make public statements denouncing Satanism and told Dick Cavett that he had become “terrified” as he grew older. 30 years after the release of the film, Levin came up with a sequel titled Son of Rosemary but it tanked.
William Castle was the man who first recognized the potential of Levin’s work and secured the rights to make a film adaptation. Best known for his work on B-grade horror films, Castle wanted to direct it initially but Paramount Pictures executive Robert Evans agreed to go ahead with the project only if Castle worked as a producer. In April of 1969, Castle was hospitalized because of severe kidney stones. He was already under a lot of stress due to the sheer volume of hate mail he received, a terrible consequence of being attached to Rosemary’s Baby. In his autobiography, he claimed that he began to hallucinate scenes from the film during his surgery and even shouted, “Rosemary, for God’s sake drop that knife!” Although Castle recovered, he never reached that level of success again.
Producer Robert Evans was not exempt from this alleged curse either. He had risen to the top with major hits like Rosemary’s Baby and The Godfather. However, he was convicted of cocaine trafficking in 1980 and got a suspended prison sentence. As a part of his plea bargain, Evans had to make an anti-drug commercial. Three years later, the producer would get caught up in the high-profile murder of Roy Radin which has come to be known as the “Cotton Club murder”. Despite two witnesses testifying that Evans was involved in the case, he was later cleared of the charges. In 1993, he told The New York Times, “I had 10 years of a horrific life, Kafkaesque. There were nights I cried myself to sleep.”
This is arguably the most renowned story that is related to Rosemary’s Baby. In autumn of 1968, composer Krzysztof Komeda, who worked on the film, fell off a rocky escarpment while partying and went into a four-month coma. Coincidentally, this affliction is exactly what the witches in Levin’s book subject Rosemary’s suspicious friend to. Komeda never came out of the coma and died in Poland the following year.
John Lennon was assassinated outside The Dakota in 1980, the famous building where they filmed Rosemary’s Baby. Producer Robert Evans claimed that the whole time he was on set at the apartment building he felt a “distinctly eerie feeling”. Lennon was gunned down by alleged “fan” Mark David Chapman who was influenced by Salinger’s novel The Catcher in the Rye and the loneliness of protagonist Holden Caulfield. However, the fleeting association with the film has led fans of the film to link Lennon’s assassination with the “curse” of the film. It can be said that the primary reason why the myth of the curse came about was the brutal murder of Polanski’s wife, actress Sharon Tate. Polanski even wanted to cast Tate as Rosemary but Evans was adamant about Mia Farrow’s involvement. A year after the film’s release, Tate and her friends were stabbed to death by followers of cult leader Charles Manson. Tate was eight-and-a-half months pregnant at the time of her demise. The members of the Manson Family delivered around 100 stab wounds to the four victims and wrote “Helter Skelter” on the wall in blood.
After his wife and unborn son were killed, Polanski indulged in substance abuse to cope with things but he ended up exemplifying human depravity. While guest editing the French edition of Vogue in 1977, the director preyed upon a 13-year old girl and persuaded her to participate in multiple photoshoots. During the second shoot at Jack Nicholson’s house, he incapacitated the minor with champagne and half a Quaalude before sexually violating her multiple times.
Although he was arrested for the felony and spent 42 days in jail, Polanski became a fugitive and fled to France to avoid facing charges. Since then, he has lived the life of a criminal and has avoided traveling to countries where he can be extradited back to the US.
Ok, let's round things out with the wizard of oz. Despite its commercial success, The Wizard of Oz is seen by some as cursed. There were so many serious accidents onset that those Oscar-nominated special effects almost cost cast members their lives, from the two actors playing winged monkeys crashing to the ground when the wires that hoisted them up in the air broke, to the Wicked Witch of the West’s stunt double Betty Danko injuring her left leg when the broomstick exploded.
Buddy Ebsen was originally cast in the role of the Tin Woodman, a.k.a. the Tin Man, but he was essentially poisoned by the makeup, which was made of pure aluminum dust. Nine days after filming started he was hospitalized, sitting under an oxygen tent. When he was not getting better fast enough, the filmmakers hired Jack Haley to be the Tin Man instead. This time, instead of applying the aluminum powder, the makeup artists mixed it into a paste and painted it on him. He did develop an infection in his right eye that needed medical attention, but it ended up being treatable.
Margaret Hamilton — who played the Wicked Witch of the West and was the one tipped who Harmetz off to the turmoil on set more than three decades later for her 1977 book — got burns, and the makeup artists had to rush to remove her copper makeup so that it wouldn’t seep through her wounds and become toxic. Unlike Ebsen, she didn’t get fired because they could live without her on the set for several more weeks.
An actor playing one of the Wicked Witch of the West’s soldiers accidentally jumped on top of Dorothy’s Toto, Carl Spitz, the dog trainer on set, told Harmetz. The dog (a female Cairn terrier named Terry) sprained its foot, and Spitz had to get a canine double. Terry did recover and returned to the set a few weeks later.
In a memoir by Judy Garland’s third husband, Sid Luft, published posthumously in 2017, he writes that, after bar-hopping in Culver City, the actors who played the munchkins “would make Judy’s life miserable by putting their hands under her dress.” Harmetz says it’s true that the actors would go drinking near the Culver City hotel where they stayed, but she says their interactions with Garland did not rise to the level of what Luft described. “Nobody on the movie ever saw her or heard of a munchkin assaulting her,” said one worker on the film. Garland did say the drinking was annoying in an interview with talk-show host Jack Paar, but experts on Garland’s life say that her rant about being scarred by the rowdy behavior on set may have been a deflection from the real damage she suffered during that time, at the hands of the studio. Garland was only 16 when she made The Wizard of Oz, and her struggles with depression and disordered eating started at an early age and continued for the rest of her life. She claimed that the studio executives gave her uppers and sleeping pills so she could keep up with the demanding pace of show business. She struggled with drug addiction and attempted suicide several times before she died of an accidental overdose on June 22, 1969, at just 47 years old.
The film went through four different producers by the time it was through.
Richard Thorpe, the first director, insisted that Judy Garland wear a blonde wig and thick makeup to depict Dorothy. When Buddy Epsen got sick from his Tin Man makeup and filming shut down for two weeks, the studio fired Thorpe and replaced him with George Cukor of My Fair Lady fame. Cukor encouraged Garland to wear natural makeup and play Dorothy less cartoonish and more natural. Cukor later left the film to work on Gone with the Wind instead and Viktor Fleming took his place. However, Cukor came back a few weeks later after getting fired from Gone With the Wind by Clark Gable (supposedly he was fired when Gable found out he was homosexual).
Director King Vidor was responsible for most of the sepia sequences and also helped Mervyn LeRoy with editing in post-production.
Not only did the public think former kindergarten teacher Margaret Hamilton was really evil following the first airing of The Wizard of Oz — she also suffered physically for the role. Hamilton received second and third-degree burns all over her body when the green copper makeup she was wearing got too hot during the fire scene. Her stunt double spent months in the hospital after a prop broom exploded — they were using a double because Hamilton got injured on an earlier take.
Stage makeup and prosthetics in 1939 were nowhere near what they are today. Ray Bolger’s Scarecrow makeup left deeply embedded marks in his skin that didn’t disappear for more than a year after the movie wrapped up filming. Luckily, this would never happen today.
How bout that hanging munchkin… Well, sorry folks. That seems to be fake. In a scene where Dorothy, the Scarecrow (Ray Bolger), and the Tin Man (Jack Haley) are skipping down the Yellow Brick Road, singing “we’re off to see the wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz,” some think the dark, moving figure hanging from a tree in the background is an actor who hanged himself on set. More likely, it’s one of the exotic birds that the filmmakers borrowed from the Los Angeles Zoo to create a wilderness setting. The rumor has been circulating since around 1989, the time of the 50th anniversary of the film’s release.
Alright, there you have it… Cursed movies!!!
Obscure 90s horror movies you need to see