“By the pricking of my thumbs, Something wicked this way comes.” – Macbeth
A warning in advance, some of these stories are quite graphic so this article is not for the weak hearted. I appreciate cynicism so I’ve kept to the facts about what’s happened and not gone too far into speculation. They say nobody believes in curses until they’re living in one, it’d be interesting to see what the cast and crew of these films would tell you… the ones that survived anyway.
The following movies have all gone down in Hollywood lore as “cursed” productions. Could it all be bad luck or something more? You’re the judge. These are my Top 3 favourites.
I took into account things like health and safety regulations not being quite as strict in the 1950s as they are now. For instance, stuntmen didn’t have to wear harness, fire drills weren’t mandatory and movies could be filmed downwind from Nevada desert nuclear test facilities. So when 91 out of the 220 cast and crew members of ‘The Conqueror’ get cancer, I am not going to consider that a curse because I hear nuclear radiation will do that to people. Instead I went for those where the stories behind them are as eerie as the films themselves. Ones of worthy merit to miss out on the medals are ‘The Poltergeist’ that saw the death of 4 leads between the ages of 12 and 22 die within a small space of time. Ironically they used real human remains as props in a film all about how desecrating the remains of the dead anger their spirits, Smart move.
Easily in fourth place would have been the horrifying ‘Twilight Zone’ because of life claiming catastrophes. Things like dummy bullets had become lodged in the barrel of the gun, when the gun was shot, the bullet penetrated one of the actors abdomen and lodged in his spine, he died 12 hours later. A lorry full of equipment mysteriously caught fire, carpenter was severely burned when the crane he was on struck high power lines. The stunt coordinator on the Television series was killed when a piece of debris shot up in the air hit a tree and then struck him in the head.
The truth is they are just appetisers for the following. As far as movie curses go, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
3. Rosemary’s Baby
The bronze medal goes to a Roman Polanski film, ‘Rosemary’s Baby’. Entertainment Weekly voted this the tenth scariest film of all time. Rosemary’s Baby is a 1967 best-selling horror novel by Ira Levin who previously wrote ‘The Stepford Wives’. In 1968, the novel was turned into an acclaimed film adaptation starring Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes as her husband. Ruth Gordon won an Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. Roman Polanski, who wrote and directed the film, was nominated for Best Writing and Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium. Other actors in the movie include: Ralph Bellamy, Elisha Cook Jr. and Charles Grodin.
The film centers on Rosemary Woodhouse, a young pregnant woman, who begins to suspect her elderly neighbors are not the sweet-hearted people they appear to be. She discovers they are the leaders of a coven of witches and her husband, a struggling actor, signed a Faustian pact with the Satan-worshipping cult, allowing the devil to impregnate her in exchange in return for his successful career. She is unable to convince anyone to believe her.
The curse starts in April 1969. Days after receiving death threats and hate mail relating to the film, producer William Castle suffered kidney failure. He swore the movie was cursed after crying out “Rosemary, for God’s sake drop that knife” throughout his treatment. In the same hospital lay Komeda, the Polish composer who wrote the score for the film. He died of a brain clot before the month was out, eerily echoing that of Rosemary’s friend Hutch in the film.
The appalling luck of Polanski is what a lot of the curse centers around. In March of 1969 Polanski had bought a house for himself and his 8 months pregnant wife Sharon Tate. Polanski had broken the golden rule of real estate: don’t buy a house from someone who Charles Manson had a grudge to settle with. The former owner of the house was music producer Terry Melcher, who had previously refused to record Manson’s music.
In return for Melcher’s digression Manson ordered a cult to go to the now Polanski’s house to re-negotiate. There, they killed Sharon Tate, her unborn baby and four others, stabbing the victims multiple times. One of the killers took a rag, soaked up some of Tate’s blood and wrote “pig” on the front door with it. Polanski was in London at the time and thus survived the onslaught. It seems that was the end of Polanski’s affliction, the curses nightmare was lifted… he later created his own nightmare as he was charged with statutory rape of a minor. Needless to say a defense about a curse for that particular parentheses would not hold in court.
Smaller coincidences related to the ‘curse’. The Manson family nicknamed their murder spree “Helter Skelter” after the Beatles song. Later, John Lennon would be murdered outside his hotel ‘The Dakota’. This was the same hotel used in some scenes in the film. It was on the set of this film that Mia Farrow received divorce papers from then-husband Frank Sinatra.
Possible Reasons for the Curse?
From a religious perspective, anything where you glorify a devil-worshiping cult is probably not going to go down to well with the satanic powers that be. Hence the death threats and hate mail for producer William Castle, whom was actually the first one to mention the films ‘curse’.
Also, Polanski wasn’t exactly diligent with his actor’s health and safety. According to Mia Farrow, the scenes where Rosemary walks in front of traffic were spontaneous and genuine. Roman Polanski is reported to have told her that “nobody will hit a pregnant woman.” Mia actually ate raw liver for a scene in the movie. Maybe this was a case of Karma more than a curse perhaps? It’s an interesting series of unfortunate events but wait till you read about the next two.
Click next below for part 2…
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