Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Movie Curses - Real or Coincidence?

There is nothing more intriguing than a movie curse that plagues actors and crew members with strange misfortunes, sometimes even deadly misfortunes, simply because of their part in a film. I cannot say that I believe that there is a dark cloud of negativity hovering over the production of the movies I’ve researched, but the events certainly appear more than just coincidence.

The question that repeatedly sounded in my mind was “Why?”. What would cause these groups of people, who were brought together to create entertainment for others, be drawn into a web of ill fate? Is it possible that the subject matter attracted the negativity? Collectively, I am positive the cast and crew focused on the fear of the films they were making, and those types of emotions can easily generate a thoughtform and attract situations of fear into their lives. The cause of movie “curses” may never be known, but the facts are worth reviewing.

Let me know what you think!

Are the circumstances involving these films merely coincidence or is there something more sinister lurking about?

Twilight Zone the Movie

July 23, 1982 in Ventura County, California, production was set to film a scene with Vic Morrow who played the role of Bill Connor, a racist, who is taken back in time and placed in various situation where he is the victim of racism. The movie had scenes of Bill Connor being a Jewish man during the holocaust, a black man about to be lynched by the Ku Klux Klan, and a Vietnamese man trying to escape from United States soldiers.
This particular day was the filming of the scene of the Vietnamese man who was attempting to escape from a US Army helicopter with two Vietnamese children. The two Vietnamese children were played by My-Ca Dinh Le, age 7, and Renee Shin-Yi Chen (age 6). In the scene, the helicopter was to hover over the three actors while an explosion occurred nearby. The scene began filming, and the helicopter hovered only 25 feet above them. This was too close to the pyrotechnic explosions which damaged the helicopter and caused it to crash on top of the actors. Morrow and Le were decapitated and Chin was crushed underneath the helicopter. No one in the helicopter was injured.

Is it possible that the negativity involved in the subject matter had something to do with the incident? Or was the helicopter crash a very unfortunate and tragic accident?

The first victim associated with the alleged curse of Superman is George Reeves who played Superman on television in the 1950’s. Reeve died of a gunshot wound to the head in 1959 which was considered a suicide. An investigation later revealed there were no finger prints on the gun which would lead one to believe it was a murder, but the authorities continue to rule his death a suicide.

Christopher Reeve played Superman in 4 major motion pictures beginning in the late 70s through the late 80s. Reeve, whose name is eerily similar to Reeves last name, did not have any tragedies occur during the filming of the Superman movies. The alleged Superman curse struck on May 27, 1995 when Reeve was thrown from a horse while in an equestrian competition in Virginia. He suffered a cervical spinal injury that paralyzed him from the neck down making him a quadriplegic for the rest of his life. Reeve was admitted to the hospital early October 2004 to treat a pressure wound that was causing sepsis. Shortly after receiving an antibiotic for the infection, he went into cardiac arrest and then slipped into a coma. Reeves suffered another cardiac arrest eighteen hours later and died on October 10, 2004 at the age of 52.

Margot Kidder who played Lois Lane in the Superman franchise also fell on some troubled times. Kidder experienced a manic episode in 1996 and was found by Los Angeles police naked and cowering in undergrowth with bashed-in teeth. She was placed in psychiatric care and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It is reported that she has gotten her condition under control and has not had a manic episode in years.

Richard Pryor, who played Gus Gorman, a talented computer hacker in the 1983 Superman III, was yet another alleged victim of the Superman movie curse. Three years after Superman III, Pryor was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He also suffered from heart problems and in 1990 underwent a triple heart bypass. Nine days after his birthday, in 2005, Pryor suffered another heart attack and was unable to be resuscitated. He was 65 years old.

Researching the alleged curse of the Poltergeist movies, I have found many mentions of the use of authentic skeletons in the pool scene. Apparently, this was confirmed by JoBeth Williams on E! True Hollywood Story about Poltergeist. Honestly, if there is any truth to this fact, I find it morbid, simply because the premise of the movie was based on the remains of people being desecrated. I would not attribute the “curse” to the use of authentic skeletons, but the death of 4 of the movie’s actors does appear suspicious.

Dominique Dunne, who played Freeling, the oldest daughter, was murdered in 1982 shortly after completing work on Poltergeist. Dunne met and moved in with a Los Angeles chef, John Thomas-Sweeney (born and raised in Hazelton, PA). The relationship soon became abusive and Dunne ended the relationship. On October 30th, Sweeney approached Dunne in the driveway of her home in hopes of reconciling. Dunne refused and Sweeney became enraged and strangled her, some report that this happened for at least 4 minutes. Dunne fell into a deep coma and died five days later on November 4 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California.

No one will ever forget the creepy rendition of “God is in his Holy Temple” sung by Julian Beck as he played the ghost Rev. Henry Kane in Poltergeist II: The Other Side. Beck was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 1983 prior to accepting his role as the revengeful preacher. He died just two years later at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City at the young age of 60.

Will Sampson, who played the Native American Shaman named Taylor in the 1986 movie Poltergeist II: The Other Side passed away on June 3, 1987. Sampson was in need of a heart and liver transplant. His death was due to post-operative kidney failure and pre-operative malnutrition problems. He was only 53 years old. Once of Sampson’s more famous roles was Chief Bromden in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

Heather O’ Rourke, who played Carol Ann Freeling, the daughter who disappeared in the house, died on February 1, 1988 at the age of twelve. Her cause of death was intentional stenosis, septic shock and cardiac arrest. O’Rourke became ill in early 1987 and was allegedly misdiagnosed by Kaiser Permanente Hospital as having Crohn’s disease. The medicine that was prescribed to treat the condition made her cheeks puffy which is evident in many picture and in the last Poltergeist III movie. It was later discovered after her death that she did not have Crohn’s disease, but suffered from and acute bowel obstruction. Her family sued Kaiser Permanente Hospital and settled out of court for an undisclosed amount. Poltergeist III was her last performance.

There were also some unusual phenomena reported from the cast. JoBeth Williams said that each day she returned home from filming, the pictures on her wall would be crooked and she needed to fix them. A prop malfunction caused the clown to actually choke actor Oliver Robbins who played the brother, Robbie Freeling. Finally, during a movie photo shoot, a bright light covered the face the Zelda Rubenstein that could not be explained. She later acknowledged that at the same time the picture was taken, her mother passed away.

Rosemary’s Baby

A handful of misfortunes are attributed to the Rosemary Baby curse which I am sure received recognition based on the theme of Satan worship in the movie. The film’s composer died of a blood clot the year after making the film, which ironically, was the cause of death of one of the character’s in the movie. Soon after the film was released, producer William Castle suffered kidney failure. Most notably, the director Roman Polanski suffered a devastating loss when his wife, Sharon Tate, and unborn child, were murdered by Charlie Manson and his family. Curse or Coincidence?

The Omen
The cast and crew of the Omen, yet another movie centered around Satan, had numerous unfortunate events and close calls.

  • Script Writer David Seltzer’s plane was hit by lightning as was Gregory Pecks, and Executive Producer Mace Neufeld’s plane.
  • The IRA bombed a hotel Neufeld was staying at during filming. The hotel restaurant was also bombed which was where the director and actors were scheduled to eat that day. No one was killed.
  • Special effects consultant John Richardson crashed his car in Holland on Friday August 13, 1976. When he got out of the wreck he looked up and saw a sign that allegedly read “Ommen, 66.6km”.
  • One of the film’s tiger handlers died.
  • Gregory Peck’s son shot himself.
  • A plane scheduled for use in film production was rescheduled and the plane was used on a commercial flight. The plane later crashed killing everyone on board.
Curse or simply Coincidence?
Written by Kerri L. Schultz

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