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8 cursed movie productions you need to know about

One would typically associate curses with an old house or an ancient treasure. But like how some people believe saying “Macbeth” will bring misfortune, there are others who believe movie productions that faced many difficulties were terrorized by an outside force. An abundance of freak accidents, sudden deaths, and flat-out strange phenomena have led some to conclude that curses were the cause. But this in no way proves they are real.

People tend to blame unexplainable misfortunes on the paranormal, as this is less frightening than if they were just random occurrences. Many bizarre and unfortunate incidents connected to famous movies have had realistic explanations, which have debunked many supposed curses attributed to them — but that didn’t stop people from searching for signs of the supernatural in these films.

The Conjuring (2013)

The Conjuring
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Just like her character in the film, actor Vera Farmiga seemed to have been the target of the supernatural. According to /Film, Farmiga claims to have woken up every night between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m., which is widely considered the devil’s hour and the time when the witch Bathsheba died in the movie. Farmiga also found what appeared to be claw marks on her leg and on her computer screen.

There were also reports of a wooden pig in the Warrens’ artifact room moving around. Actor Joey King was even said to have gotten bruises on her body, despite not performing any stunts, similar to how Bathsheba repeatedly bruises King’s character’s mother in the movie. All these strange occurrences drove the producers of The Conjuring 2 to have a priest bless the set of the sequel.

Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)

Vic Morrow in "Twilight Zone: The Movie."
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In director John Landis’s segment of this frightening anthology, actor Vic Morrow was supposed to do a scene in which his character rescues two children when he is transported back in time to the Vietnam War. However, one of the pyrotechnics hit a helicopter while filming, causing it to crash and kill Morrow and the two child actors. Landis was subsequently charged with involuntary manslaughter and eventually acquitted.

A massive investigation followed this incident, revealing that the children who had died were hired illegally to get past California’s child labor laws. Those who testified even claimed that Landis demanded the helicopter to fly lower just before the accident. Despite claims that this film was cursed, these tragic deaths were the result of human actions, not supernatural influence.

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

The Wizard of Oz
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It turns out the land of Oz wasn’t as delightful behind the scenes as it is in the movie. According to TIME, two flying monkeys fell to the floor after their wires broke. Margaret Hamilton suffered burns on her hand and face while playing the Wicked Witch, and her stunt double was hurt when her broomstick blew up. Original Tin Man actor Buddy Ebsen was poisoned by his aluminum makeup and was replaced by Jack Haley. One of the actors even jumped on Toto by accident.

However, Judy Garland arguably suffered the most, as many people involved in the production reportedly sexually harassed her, including the drunk Munchkin actors and producer Louis B. Mayer. Garland was also forced to strap down her chest, restrict her diet, and take various drugs to stay thin and energetic. And according to HuffPost, director Victor Fleming slapped her in the face to make her stop laughing on camera, which he regretted afterward. To think all these horrible things happened while making a cheery family film.

The Conqueror (1956)

John Wayne in "The Conqueror."
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In a way, the set of Dick Powell’s controversial historical epic was cursed, but it wasn’t because of any ghosts or demons. The Conqueror was filmed near where the U.S. government tested 11 atomic bombs as part of Operation Upshot-Knothole a couple years prior, and the crew was exposed to the nuclear radiation carried by the wind.

According to People, 91 out of the 220 cast and crew members developed cancer, and 46 of them died, including lead stars John Wayne and Susan Hayward. What makes this tragedy even more egregious is that the filmmakers knew about the nuclear tests when they were filming.

The Exorcist (1973)

The Exorcist.
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The set of The Exorcist proved itself to be a tumultuous place, but this was partially due to director William Friedkin’s rigid on-set rules. Nevertheless, multiple deaths and accidents happened during and after the production of this satanic picture, making people believe they were the work of the actual Devil.

Linda Blair and Ellen Burstyn suffered permanent spine damage doing wire stunts. Jack MacGowran and Vasiliki Maliaros, whose characters died in the film, died before its release. People who worked on the film had family members die during production. And a fire broke out after a bird flew into a circuit box, burning down the entire set, except for Blair’s possessed character’s bedroom. Eventually, the cast and crew got so worried about making this film that Friedkin brought in a Jesuit priest to bless them all.

Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Rosemary's Baby
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Much like it did for Mia Farrow’s character in this film, a sinister cloud seemed to hover over those connected to the production of Rosemary’s Baby, which also deals with satanic subject matter. Composer Krzysztof Komeda died after he was pushed off a rocky slope and lapsed into a four-month coma.

Director Roman Polanski’s wife, Sharon Tate, was brutally murdered along with her unborn son by members of the Manson Family, which invokes images of the evil cult that tries to take Rosemary’s child from her. Also, famed Beatles member John Lennon was shot dead outside the apartment building where the movie was filmed over a decade later.

Poltergeist (1982)

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Just as ghosts haunted the Freeling family, some people believe the production of Poltergeist was the the target of a supernatural force. Dominique Dunne, who played the teenage daughter Dana Freeling, was murdered by her ex-boyfriend a few months after the film’s premiere. Julian Beck died from stomach cancer after appearing as the evil Kane in Poltergeist II: The Other Side. Will Sampson died in surgery after playing the shaman Taylor in the same sequel. And young Heather O’Rourke, who played sweet and innocent Carol Anne in all three movies, died from intestinal stenosis while making the franchise’s third film. 

Many people attributed these deaths to a curse brought on by the actual human skeletons used in the first film. These human remains appear after JoBeth Williams’ character, Diane, falls into the hole being dug for a pool in its frightening climax. However, it is worth pointing out Hollywood uses actual skeletons as props on movie sets all the time.

The Omen (1976)

The Omen
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The devil is really in the details with regard to what happened on The Omen. Actor Gregory Peck, producer Mace Neufeld, and writer David Seltzer were on a plane that was struck by lightning. Producer Harvey Bernard was almost struck by lightning while filming in Rome. Also, a private jet that Peck was going to use to travel to the set crashed after birds flew into the engine, killing everyone onboard. And the plane hit a car occupied by the pilot’s wife and two children.

But what is most frightening is the death of the special effects designer’s assistant, who was decapitated in a car accident. The cause of her death is eerily similar to how a glass sheet slices off a character’s head in the movie. And this accident occurred on Friday, August 13, next to a road sign that, according to Moviefone, said it was 66.6 km away from the town of Ommen. Creepy!

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