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?