So many films, especially ‘horror’ are rumoured to be cursed and the exploring this theme is the appropriately themed Cursed Films series of which the first series is now on blu-ray and digital. Many of the alleged curse films are well known and this first series takes in five titles The Exorcist, Poltergeist, The Omen, The Crow and the Twilight Zone.
The Omen was a film that perhaps could arguably be called cursed with two separate plane flights one with Gregory Peck and the other with the producer being struck by lightening as they flew over to England for filming, a tube station that Peck used to get to a favourite London restaurant was blown up on the evening that the actor luckily decided not to go by tube and a keeper at the safari park where the crew shot the baboon attack was killed when a lion escaped and mauled him to death. Then there was the incident where a plane that the crew had chartered was delayed in them boarding then hit a flock of birds grounding it with the plane going off the runaway and hitting a car killing the occupants all of whom were the pilots family.
Actor Neil Maskell talsk the horror of the brutally violent Brit film, ‘Bull’
it’s easy to see why these films might be seen as cursed. Some are just tragic notably the notorious John Landis episode of The Twilight Zone movie where actor Vic Morrow and two young children were tragically killed by the blades of a helicopter in a war zone recreation. That the explosion’s were far bigger than rehearsed, that the helicopter was fying at a lower altitude, that they were filming with a tired crew at 2am and that children’s working regulations were flagrantly breached when two children were used in the scene made all the more tragic by their parents watching as all three were instantly killed. That Landis wasn’t jailed after a court case is perhaps a miracle of the US justice system more than anything else and was able to continue his career. For the production designer who recounts the tragic circumstances it was different. Visibly distraught as he recounts the events that night it all but ended his career which was on the rise at the point.
Amber Midthunder talks filming with Predators in ‘Prey’
But for other films calling them cursed it’s a bit of a stretch which was true of the Poltergeist films. After filming the first film actress Dominique Dunne was murdered by an enraged ex-boyfriend. The second film saw Julian Beck pass away from stomach cancer and Will Sampson also later die from kidney failure. Most tragic of all was Heather O’Rourke the little girl who had been in the first three films and by that third one she was visibly looking unwell on screen with her face inflating in size all due to an illness for which medication had been prescribed. Tragically she had been misdiagnosed and was being treated for the wrong ailment and she died some way into filming with production being shut down only to be started up again at the insistence of the studio with a re-written ending and Heather replaced with another child whose face was turned away from camera.
Even if the stories for these and The Exorcist and The Crow are well known all the episodes are interesting although some of them are padded out notably The Omen where a number of real life witches offer their own insight into ‘the curse’ of that film. Nonetheless Cursed Films is a really intriguing series with later series taking in The Wizard of Oz, Rosemary’s Baby ,Stalker, The Serpent and the Rainbow and of course Cannibal Holocaust.
Why the director of Cannibal Holocaust was put on trail for murder
Apart from the Cursed Films episodes themselves the disc also includes directors’ commentaries for each – now we are a big fan of directors commentaries but here they don’t really seem necessary but there are some intriguing titbits. Either way Cursed Films – series one – is a great disc to dip in and out but whether the tragedies were cursed or cobblers….well you can decide.
Here’s the Cursed Films trailer……
Cursed Films‘ Series One arrives on Blu-ray on 27 February 2023