Haunted Movie Sets
Can there be a presence of an unknown energy on a set of a movie? Some say yes. Is it the actor/actress playing along with a morbid Hollywood horror tradition or is it truly Satan’s greatest weapon, which is definitely his invisibility.
With scenes of exorcism and summoning of demons, there is always a chance of reality playing itself out in a script. Throwing caution to the wind is not something which should be taken lightly. This is no doubt, dangerous territory.
With programs such as Ghost Adventures and others, we see the technology available to alert us to the presence of paranormal activity and considering some of this same video equipment, sound gear, and microphones are on these film sets, it should not be surprising they pick up activity as well.
To glorify the occult or the demonic is not good! Is it because Hollywood in general is evil? You be the judge….
The onslaught of paranormal activity surrounding this movie was unprecedented. From the drug problems associated with Linda Blair to the obsessed fan-serial killer Jeffery Dahmer, which had “Exorcist III” playing on his VCR when he was arrested…this was only the beginning of the horror which took place during and after the film was produced.
Supposedly Rev. Thomas Bermingham was said to have exorcised the set but refused, others reported the he did bless the set with Holy Water and a blessing and spoke briefly to the cast and crew due to all the occurrences which had taken place that has spooked everyone.
Ominous events in the year-long shoot included the deaths of nine people, mysterious fired, and some even say the death toll of the residing community of Georgetown increased during this time. Some say there is truth to the rumor of a fire that destroyed a 400 year-old cross during the Italian premier at the Metropolitan Theatre in Rome by lightening strikes.
Although there were no incidents on the film’s sequels, the original director for the prequel Exorcist: The Beginning, John Frankenheimer, died before filming began.
This trilogy was produced in the 1980’s. Crazy instances which cause death and some say even a haunted atmosphere on this set caused seven people’s lives. Perhaps the curse came from the fact that Steven Spielberg used real skeletons of people in the muddy pool scene near the end of the movie. Each of the three “Poltergeist” movies was met with the tragedy of a principal actor;
Beatrice Straight died of pneumonia at 87 and Geraldine Fitzgerald died at 91.
From when Dominique Dunne was strangled by her boyfriend at just 22; to Will Sampson dying from a heart-lung transplant at 53, others report it was post operative kidney failure and malnutrition. Then we have Brian Gibson, 59 and Julian Beck, who both died of cancer. Gibson had a type of bone cancer that occurs in teenage men and this type is definitely rarely fatal. Also, Beck dying at the beginning of the 1986’s sequel.
This isn’t everything! Oliver Robins’ throat was squeezed by the toy clown in that freaky toy scene, due to some mysterious malfunction! Author James Kahn’s air conditioner was struck by lightning and flew into his back.
Creepy stories of Zelda Rubenstein, who received a call that her mom had died. But, right before that, she had a horrible feeling in the pit of her stomach. Some say there was a light shining on her face in this part of the movie. Perhaps it was her mom.
The cave in the second Poltergeist movie where corpses were buried evidently had real skeletons in them as well- seriously?…like these guys didn’t learn their lesson the first time.
Finally, Carol Anne (Heather O’Rourke) was only twelve when her untimely demise from a cardiopulmonary arrest soon after the release of the final film. Some say it was septic shock due to bacterial toxins invading her bloodstream, either way it’s freaky.
The “Freeling” home in Southern California was damaged the Northridge earthquake in 1994. JoBeth Williams, who played mother Diane Freeling, claims she returned home from the set each day to find pictures on her wall askew. She would straighten them, only to find them crooked again the next day.
Actor Will Sampson, a Creek Indian and actual shaman, performed an exorcism on the set of Poltergeist II to rid it of “alien spirits.” A year after Poltergeist II was released, he died.
During the fight Dominique Dunne had with her boyfriend that ended up with her losing her life, Dominique’s friend who was at the house turned up the Poltergeist soundtrack to drown out the noise of the two yelling outside.
In production of Poltergeist III, a movie set of a parking garage was completely engulfed by fire during shooting of a fire scene, from which only one crew member escaped without a scratch.
This film was inspired by a real-life family but what some may not know is that this movie was shot in the exact home in Long Island, New York, from a murder case which occurred in November 1974. The oldest boy, (Butch) Ronald DeFeo Jr, shot and killed six members of his family.
Daniel Lutz recently admitted that his step-father (George) was engaged in occult activity.
During the period that the Lutz family was living at 112 Ocean Avenue, Stephen Kaplan, a self-styled vampirologist, was called in to investigate the house. Kaplan and the Lutzes fell out and Kaplan went on to write a critical book entitled The Amityville Horror Conspiracy with his wife Roxanne Salch Kaplan. The book was published in 1995 and Stephen Kaplan died of a heart attack in the same year. On the night of March 6, 1976 the house was investigated by Ed and Lorraine Warren, a husband and wife team described as demonologists, together with a crew from the television station Channel 5 New York. During the course of the investigation a photograph was taken allegedly showing a demonic boy with glowing white eyes.
Outside Ed Warren’s office an old chapel clock ticked away the moments with quiet, mechanical precision. All else stood still. It was the middle of a cold, dark night in New England.
Inside the office, a brass lamp lit the desk where Ed Warren, a pensive, gray-haired man of fifty sat working. Hundreds of books surrounded him, most bearing strange, arcane titles on the mysterious lore of demonology. Above the desk hung photographs of monks and grim-faced exorcists, standing with Ed Warren in abbeylike settings. For Ed, working in the still silence of night, it had been a wicked day — one that was not yet over.
Just before the hour the clock movement came alive in a series of clicks and relays, finally churning up three somber, resonating bongs. At the third stroke Ed looked up, listened into the darkness, then went back to writing. It was three o’clock in the morning, the true witching hour, the hour of the Antichrist. And now, unbeknownst to him, Ed Warren was on borrowed time.
Only hours before, Ed and Lorraine Warren had returned to their home in Connecticut after having been called in to investigate claims of a “haunted house” on Long Island’s south shore, in a pleasant residential suburb of New York City. In December 1975, the house had been purchased by George and Kathleen Lutz, who moved into it around Christmas of that year with their three young children. A year before the Lutzes bought the house, the eldest son of the previous owner murdered the six sleeping members of his family at 3:15 in the morning of November 13, 1974, with a .35 caliber rifle.*
*The New York Times, November 15, 1974
On January 15, 1976, the Lutzes fled from the house, contending that they had been victimized by manifest supernatural forces. It was a case that later came to be known as The Amityville Horror.
By the end of January 1976, the press had become fully aware of the Lutz family’s claim of a bizarre experience in the house, and promptly called experts into the case. The experts brought in were Ed and Lorraine Warren. The Warrens were consulted because, in professional circles, they are considered to be perhaps this country’s leading authorities on the subject of spirits and supernatural phenomena. Over the course of some three decades, Ed and Lorraine Warren have investigated over three thousand paranormal and supernatural disturbances.
The question the news media had essentially wanted answered was whether there was a “ghost” in the house at the time.
The answer the Warrens gave at the end of their three-day investigation, however, was something no one had bargained for. Indeed their answer literally strained credulity.
“Yes,” the Warrens disclosed at the time, “in our judgment, there was a spirit that had plagued the Lutzes in the house. But they also concluded, “no ghost was present.”
What did this paradoxical statement mean? Did this imply there were other kinds of spirits than ghosts?
Incredibly, the answer the Warrens gave was “Yes!”
“There are two types of spirits that are encountered in true haunting situations,” the Warrens explained on March 6, 1976. “One is human; the other, however, is inhuman. An inhuman spirit is something that has never walked the earth in human form..” The Warrens’ sobering information was not merely well-intentioned speculation — because fully two weeks before, Ed and Lorraine Warren had been confronted by an inhuman spirit in their own home. The visitation happened to Ed first. Ed Warren’s office is located in a small, cottage-sized building attached to the main house by a long enclosed passageway. As Ed sat working on preliminary details of the Amityville case that fateful February morning, the latch at the end of the passageway snapped open, followed by the percussive boom of the heavy wooden door. Footsteps then started toward the office…..
The house was also investigated by the parapsychologist Hans Holzer. The Warrens and Holzer have suggested that 112 Ocean Avenue is occupied by malevolent spirits due to the past history of the house.
In 1978, James Brolin was hesitant when he was first offered the role of George Lutz. He was told that there was no script and that he must obtain a copy of Jay Anson’s novel and read it as soon as possible. Brolin started the book one evening at seven o’clock and was still reading at two o’clock in the morning. He had hung a pair of his pants up in the room earlier and at a really “tense” part in the book, the pants fell down from wherever they had been hanging. Brolin jumped out of his chair, nearly crashing his head into the ceiling. It was then that Brolin said, “There’s something to this story.” He agreed to do the movie.
In 2005, a dead body washed up on the shore at the house a few weeks later, right before they started shooting the movie. Evidently, it was a fisherman. Ryan Reynolds claims that he was actually waking up every night at the same time as he did in the movie. My Ghostly Experience… I had a ghostly experience in South Carolina. I was staying there for about 4 days and attending a wedding on the weekend. I stayed at my friend’s grandmother’s house. I needed to use the bathroom connected to her bedroom because the other one was occupied.
On my way out, I noticed that she had at least 50 lipsticks displayed on her bureau. Who wouldn’t take a peek? I opened one of them to see what color it would be when, all of a sudden, there was a huge bang on her closet door. I placed the lipstick back in its place and stupidly apologized for touching it! The next night, we were getting ready for a poker game, so I eagerly dashed to the bedroom to grab the cards from my suitcase. I stopped dead in my tracks before exiting the room as I noticed a silhouette of a man in the reflection of the glass covering a landscape painting.
I said, “Don’t scare me- I see you hiding around the corner!” There was no response. My eyes were locked on the silhouette as I waited for my friend to pop out and scare me. Then I hear him and his grandmother talking in the kitchen. I dropped the cards and ran into the kitchen to tell them what I saw. Grandma decided to let us in on a little secret. Evidently, her brother who passed away years ago likes to pay a visit every so often- right where I saw his form in the reflection! I slept on an inflatable bed in the living room for the next two nights.
The Exorcism of Emily Rose
When we first entered the set for ‘The Exorcism of Emily Rose’ we were directed into a giant barn built on the inside of the building. The barn, which is were the actual exorcism of Emily Rose will be performed, had giant stained windows at the top front entrance that looked like a cross. It looked like it was subtle and not meant to be something that will strike you as the first thing you’d notice because the windows were brown just like the rusty exterior. Inside, were they set up for the conference, the walls were dusted and aged and the structure holding everything together was made of wood.
In front of us they projected the first ever still from the film and it was stunning. The cinematography is being done by Tom Stern who has done brilliant work on films like ‘Million Dollar Baby and ‘Mystic River.’ Picture the look of ‘The Ring’ only a little less gut wrenching a little more mystical. The image was of Emily Rose (Jennifer Carpenter) with her back to us. She is walking towards something in a night gown. To the right of her is a creepy tree that looked like something out of a vintage Tim Burton film. It leaned to the left while all the branches curved to the right. The image instantly had us all in chatter, there was white noise everywhere.
To the right were a few monitors where we could watch the filming, which was going on right behind the wall. They were doing all wide shots that day so we couldn’t sit and watch them film right in front of us. So we plugged in our headsets so we could listen in on what will be one of the many courtroom sequences.
For those of you who don’t know, in an extremely rare decision, the Catholic Church officially recognized the demonic possession of a 19-year-old college freshman back in the ‘70’s. The film is told in terrifying flashbacks as they chronicle the haunting trial of the priest accused of negligence resulting in the death of the young girl believed to be possessed. Inspired by true events, the film stars Laura Linney as the lawyer (Erin Bruner) defending the priest (Tom Wilkinson) who performed the controversial exorcism.
On the monitor we saw Campbell Scott who plays the prosecutor exhibiting a hilarious- yet cool as hell- mustache. In the scene he is questioning Father Moore about the exorcism he performed. In this scene he is trying to humiliate Father Moore and make him lose creditability. After his attempt Laura Linney (Erin Bruner) brings some new evidence to everyone’s surprise- a tape that Father Moore had of him performing the exorcism. When asked to play it, the scene cuts- leaving us all in suspense.
Laura Linney is such a phenomenal actress. She is perfect for this movie because it gave off a sort of ‘Mothman Prophecies’ feeling, which she also starred in. She messed her lines up quite a few times, but when she got them right it was worth the retake because she is so incredibly believable. Everything seemed dead on, like this could be a really kick a** movie, until we heard a few horribly cheese filled lines. Scott is trying to make Father Moore look like an ass and Father Moore is talking about this apparition of a cloaked individual he keeps seeing, which he implies he thinks is the devil taunting him. When asked why this devil is taunting him Father Moore replies with, “It was as if he was saying, ‘The game is on,’” in reply to this absurd line Scott exclaims, “Well you’re really god’s gunslinger aren’t you?” The first time I heard this line I looked over at John Fallon of Arrowinthehead.com and Sean Clark of Dreadcentral.com and the three of us busted out into laughter, we couldn’t contain ourselves. I had tears coming form my eyes. Fallon said we were like a bunch of high schoolers, but it didn’t matter because it was too late, the game was on! Every time we heard that line- the next 6-10 times- we laughed our a** off. It was pretty embarrassing because we couldn’t stop- I even tried removing my headset, but then John would chuckle and I’d break out into a laughing fit all over again.
But the good news is that they shot the scene a few times with some different dialogue, so hopefully the game won’t be on. On the other side of things there was a chilling moment when Father Moore exclaims, “I’ve seen him ever since,” when referring to the cloaked figure appearing after he began the exorcism.
After they cut for a few we had the chance to walk around a bit. Everything looked like it was from a period piece. There was a room constructed with a phlegm green couch and yellow curtains- circa 1970’s. The courtroom look and appeal also felt like it was dated, and Laura Linney’s hairstyle was perfect for the time. On a table hiding in the corner was Emily Rose’s tombstone, which was a marble red and very beautiful. I really wish I could have taken a picture next to it. On my way out of the courtroom set up, we all started gazing over an image for the court case. What was it an image of? We accidentally got to see the end result of Emily Rose in all of her glory. What did it look like, well lets see- well unfortunately I can’t tell you that, when they found out what we were looking at I thought Sony was going to have to hire some snipers to take us all out before we left…
The leading actress was haunted in the middle of the night on a few occasions when her stereo kept turning on. She said it was playing only part of a Pearl Jam song over and over, “I’m still alive”!
Three Men and a Baby
There have been stories of a little ‘ghost’ boy in the window behind Ted Danson walks through the house. It was also rumored that a nine-year old boy committed suicide in the house where they filmed, but according to Snopes.com, they filmed indoor scenes on a studio set in Toronto- not an actual residence. They claim that what appears to be this ghost was actually a cardboard cut out of Ted Danson behind the curtain that the props workers forgot to take off the set.
The parents moved soon after and the film studio rented it shortly thereafter. It was told that the boy’s mother sued the film studio after they refused to remove the image from the film.
According to the original script, the “standee” was a cardboard cutout reference used for advertising of a dog commercial but this was cut from the finished version of the film. Some feel this story was propagation due to the boost of a sequels release.
This trilogy series, Omen comes from the end times prophecies of Christianity, in which a child (Damien Thorn), which has the “666” birthmark, is possessed by a demonic force which turn out to be the Antichrist in the following sequels.
The Omen has a chilling effect on the viewer and the producer effectively uses crosses, even wallpaper of a room with pages of the Bible to ward off evil spirits.
In 2005 a documentary entitled “The Curse of ‘The Omen'” was shown on British television. The production of The Omen was plagued with a series of incidents which some members of the crew attributed to the operation of a curse. They wondered if these events were due to supernatural forces trying to prevent the filming of the movie. Instances include the following:
Scriptwriter David Seltzer’s plane was struck by lightning.
Star Gregory Peck, in a separate incident, had his plane struck by lightning.
Richard Donner’s hotel was bombed by the Provisional IRA .
Gregory Peck canceled his reservation on a flight. The plane he had originally chartered crashed, killing all on board (a group of Japanese businessmen).
A warden at the safari park used in the “crazy baboon” scene was attacked and killed by a lion the day after the crew left.
Rottweilers hired for the film attacked their trainers.
On the first day of shooting, the principal members of the crew got in a head-on car crash.
On a Friday the 13th in 1976, special-effects designer John Richardson — fresh off masterminding a brutal decapitation scene in “The Omen” — skidded into a collision that left his assistant, who was in the passenger seat, sliced in half.
Director John Moore attributed two days of ruined footage to such supernatural occurrences, telling reporters that a malfunctioning remote-control camera kept registering “Error 666,” a message that repairmen insisted did not exist.
The Curse of The Omen
In a strange event, Pete Postlethwaite (Father Brennan) not only lost his brother while he was filming the movie, but before he passed, his brother was in a card game in which he drew three sixes. Postlethwaite is reluctant to put together a connection, but adds “I think things like that do happen and it’s just sometimes we’re not sensitized enough to see the problem.”
Released on June 6, 2006 (6/6/06), at 06:06:06 in the morning! This symbolically represents the Number of the Beast. Its Box Office earnings were reportedly the highest opening for a Tuesday gross in the domestic United States, by earning more than $12 million. The film earned $12, 633, 666 on its first day. Notice the last three digits of 666. Fox’s President of Distribution admittedly was ‘having a little fun’ at the manipulation of the last three numbers.
The Crow is a 1994 American film adaptation of the comic book of the same name by James O’Barr (who himself makes a cameo in the film). During the actual filming rumors that “The Crow” set was cursed, many accidents happened.
A carpenter was severely burned after the crane in which he was riding struck high-power lines.
Then a disgruntled sculptor who had worked on the set drove his car through the studio’s plaster shop, doing extensive damage. Later, another crew member slipped and drove a screwdriver through his hand.
A lorry full of equipment mysteriously went on fire.
It was directed by Alex Proyas and starred Brandon Lee, and gained instant notoriety even before its release, when Lee was accidentally killed during filming.
On March 31, 1993, there were eight days left before shooting of the film was to be completed. The scene being filmed involved Lee’s character Eric Draven walking into his apartment and witnessing the brutal rape of his fiancée by thugs. Lee’s character would then have been shot and killed along with his fiancée by the thugs. As the scene was being filmed, Brandon Lee was killed after Michael Massee (who played the villain Funboy) fired the gun at Lee as intended. The bullet unseated from a dummy round was lodged in the barrel of the handgun. The bullet was not noticed and the gun was loaded with a blank cartridge. When the blank was fired, the bullet shot out and hit Lee in the abdomen. After Lee’s death, a stunt double, Chad Stahelski replaced Lee in some scenes to complete the film. Special effects were used for digitally compositing Lee’s face onto the double. Michael Masse, the actor who plays funboy, was not to blame. An unknown person in the production film, wanted the film to look real, but little did this person know that it would personally injure him.
The original footage featuring Lee’s actual death was destroyed immediately, without even being developed. It is as yet unknown who was responsible for the presence of live rounds in Massee’s gun.
Rosemary’s Baby is a 1967 best-selling horror novel by Ira Levin, his second published book. Just outside of the Dakota, a landmark apartment building on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, John Lennon was shot, this is the building Rosemary was living at in the film. The Dakota Building on Manhattan’s Upper West Side was renamed The Bramford for the film.
The movie was filmed partially on location at the the Dakota, off Central Park West in New York City. The Dakota apartment building has had a series of ghost sightings and strange happenings. A little girl, appearing in 19th century clothes, said “today is my birthday,” to a workman and the next day a co-worker was killed, Patterson recounted. He also noted bad luck that befell some of the people involved in the film Rosemary’s Baby which was partially filmed at the Dakota, such as producer William Castle who received death threats. Interestingly, a scene in the movie that depicts where a woman jumped from a balcony, is the same part of the sidewalk where John Lennon was shot, notes Author R. Gary Patter.
Directed by Roman Polanski, whose pregnant wife actress Sharon Tate was murdered in 1969 by Charles Manson and his followers, who titled their death spree “Helter Skelter” after the 1968 song by The Beatles, one of whose members, ‘John Lennon,’ would one day live (and in 1980 be murdered) in the Manhattan apartment building called The Dakota – where Rosemary’s Baby had been filmed.
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 Farrow actually ate raw liver for a scene in the movie.
The book that Rosemary reads in the cab is the Book of Ceremonial Magic, by A.E. Waite, Chapter IV: The Rituals Of Black Magic: Section 4: The Grimoire of Honorius. The italic section has been entered into the natural flow of the text; the previous paragraph has been shortened to make space for it.
But even before Sharon Tate’s death, producer William Castle has begun using the c-word. In April 1969, days after receiving death threats and hate mail relating to the film, Castle is rushed into hospital with kidney failure. At one point he cries out “Rosemary, for God’s sake drop that knife.” As he convalesces, he discovers that in the same hospital is Krzysztof Komeda, the Polish composer who wrote the score for the film and an old friend of Polanski’s and Tate’s. Komeda will die of a brain clot before the month is out, a death which echoes that of Rosemary’s friend Hutch in the film.
Two years later, Polanski would undergo his own form of exorcism by tackling a film version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, most memorable for a scene in which Lady Macduff and her children are murdered on Macbeth’s orders. It was a brave attempt at catharsis, but the stain of the Manson tragedy and the Rosemary’s Baby curse has remained with him.
This film was #23 on Bravo’s 100 Scariest Movie Moments for its scene where Rosemary is raped by Satan.Some make comparisons of the film’s Satanic cult elements to the true-life torture and murder of Sharon Tate (Polanski’s wife) by the Charles Manson cult followers, just one year after the movie’s release. Tate, who was pregnant at the time of her murder, was two weeks away from her due date.
Maurice Evans played Rosemary’s concerned friend “Hutch” who is hexed and murdered by the cult. Evans played Samantha’s warlock father on the TV sitcom Bewitched. The sitcom would make several coy references in 1968-1969 to Rosemary’s Baby as a new movie about witches “which show us as quite evil”.
The Dakota building-Outside shots of the movie’s Bramford apartment building were in fact The Dakota, the future home of Mia Farrow’s friend John Lennon, and his wife and son, Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon. Coincidentally, the Manson Family named their murder spree “Helter Skelter,” after the song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
The Beatles song “Dear Prudence,” which, like “Helter Skelter,” was also a track on the Beatles’ White Album, was written about actress Mia Farrow’s sister, Prudence. Twelve years after the release of Rosemary’s Baby, John Lennon was murdered outside The Dakota. The spot where Lennon was killed–the front entrance tunnel of the building–is shown in several shots.
Twilight Zone-The Movie
Landis wrote a screenplay about an embittered white man named Bill Connor. Connor is first seen railing vulgarly in a bar against Jews, blacks and Asians. The bigot leaves the bar and steps into a series of scenes: Nazi-occupied France where SS troops chase him, mistaking him for a Jew. He flees from the Nazis only to find himself in the Jim Crow American South where Ku Klux Klansmen see him as black and try to lynch him. He escapes from them and is in Vietnam, attacked by American GIs who think he is the enemy.
Although Landis wanted to make a moral point with this film, the story had an ethical problem at its heart. The ordeal endured by Connor seems to equate courageous American GIs in Vietnam trying to protect the South Vietnamese from Communist invaders from the North, with such groups as the Nazis and the Klan.
To star as the repulsive Connor, Landis hired Vic Morrow, a middle-aged actor best known for playing tough guys, usually villains.
When Landis submitted this script to Warner Brothers executives for their approval, two raised objections. Lucy Fisher, vice-president in charge of production, and Terry Semel, president of the studio, thought that the central character was so negative that audiences would not be able to care about him.
After a meeting with Fisher and Semel, Landis hit upon the idea of having Bill redeemed from his bigotry. Running away from the American soldiers firing at him and an attack from a U.S. helicopter in Vietnam, he would come upon two Vietnamese orphans. Moved by their plight, the man would rescue them from an air attack, bravely carrying them across a river to save their lives. At the end, as an entire village is dramatically blown up in the background, the former racist would reassure the youngsters, “I’ll keep you safe, kids! I swear to God!”
These script changes were approved.
However, Landis ran into an obstacle in the form of California’s child labor laws. Twilight Zone casting agents Michael Fenton and Marci Liroff of Fenton-Feinberg Casting told Landis and associate producer George Folsey Jr. that those regulations forbade children to work an hour past curfew and that a teacher-welfare worker had to be present when kids worked. Liroff remembered herself telling the director that the scene struck her as “kind of dangerous.” Fenton told Landis that, since the children were not going to have speaking parts, they were extras and could not be hired through Fenton-Feinberg Casting. Ron LaBrecque wrote in Special Effects that Liroff claimed, “Fenton’s response was a diplomatic way to avoid involvement in a questionable venture.”
Employers could get waivers to work kids later than that but Landis did not seek one. The exact reason for this failure later became a matter of intense dispute. Either he thought he would not get the waiver because the hour was too late or he knew he could not get approval to have kids around a helicopter and explosives.
The director decided to break the law. He would employ the kids illegally and pay them out of petty cash to avoid putting their names on payroll.
The making of the movie had consequences which overshadowed the film itself. During the filming of a segment directed by John Landis on July 23, 1982, actor Vic Morrow and child actors Myca Dinh Le (age 7) and Renee Shin-Yi Chen (age 6) died in an accident involving a helicopter being used on the set. The helicopter was flying at an altitude of only 25 feet (8 meters), too low to avoid the explosions of the pyrotechnics used on set. When the blasts severed the tail rotor, it spun out of control and crashed, decapitating Morrow and Le with its blades. Chen was crushed to death as the helicopter crashed. Everyone inside the helicopter was unharmed.
The accident led to legal action against the filmmakers which lasted nearly a decade, and changed the regulations involving children working on movie sets at night and during special effects-heavy scenes. Hollywood also avoided helicopter-related stunts for many years, until the CGI revolution of the 1990s made it possible to use digital versions. As a result of the accident, one second assistant director had his name removed from the credits and replaced with the pseudonymous Alan Smithee. The incident also ended the friendship between director Landis and producer Spielberg, who was already angered before the accident that Landis had violated many codes, including using live ammunition on the set.
The Superman curse refers to a series of misfortunes that have plagued creative people involved in adaptations of Superman in various mediums, particularly actors who have played the role of Superman on film and television. The curse basically states,
If you intend to play the strongest man on Earth, you will either die or end up in the weakest position possible.
The curse is somewhat well-known in popular culture, largely due to the high-profile hardships of Superman actors George Reeves and Christopher Reeve. Other sources deny the curse, stating that several Superman-related actors, such as Bud Collyer and Teri Hatcher, went on to success after their association with the franchise and that many hardships of “cursed” individuals are common in their respective fields. Nevertheless, the uncertainty proved to be taken seriously among many movie stars when several of them turned down multi-million dollar deals to play a role in the most recent film adaptation.
Writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster created Superman in the 1930s but their employer DC Comics held the copyright to the character. In 1946, the two sued DC, arguing that they were inadequately compensated for the character. The New York Supreme Court limited their settlement to $60,000 each, a small sum compared to the millions of dollars Superman comic books, films, television series, and merchandise grossed. In 1975, in response to a campaign launched by Siegel and Shuster and joined by many prominent comic book creators, DC agreed to pay the two lifetime pensions of $35,000 a year and give them credit in every adaptation of the character. While Siegel and Shuster were respected in comic book fandom for Superman, neither went on to work on any other high-profile comic books after Superman. Some tellings of the curse state that Siegel and Shuster themselves cursed the character out of anger for the injustice.
Brothers Max and Dave Fleischer founded Fleischer Studios, which produced the original Popeye, Betty Boop and Superman cartoons. Shortly after bringing Superman into animation, the Fleischers began feuding with one another and their studio slumped financially until they were forced to sell to Paramount Pictures. Paramount ousted the Fleischers and rearranged their company as Famous Studios. Although Dave Fleischer went on to a career as a special effects advisor at Universal Studios, Max died poor at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital.
Kirk Alyn played Superman in two low-budget 1940s serials but failed to find work afterwards, saying that casting directors thought he was too recognized as Superman. He eventually retired to Arizona.
George Reeves played Superman in the 1951 film Superman and the Mole Men and the ensuing television series Adventures of Superman. Like Alyn, he was recognized only for the role. On June 16, 1959, days before he was to be married, Reeves was found dead of a gunshot wound at his home, his Luger was found by him. The death was ruled a suicide but other theories persist.
In 1963, U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s staff approved of a Superman story in which the hero touts the president’s physical fitness initiatives, scheduled to be published with an April 1964 cover date. On November 22, Kennedy was shot and killed but, at the request of successor Lyndon Johnson, DC published a reworked version of the story
Director Richard Donner was fired after the release of Superman and subsequently replaced with Richard Lester on Superman II. His later films have never managed to achieve the success of his pre-Superman career.
Comedian Richard Pryor, who had previously suffered from a drug addiction that lead to an almost fatal accident, starred as an anti-hero in 1983’s Superman III, but later took Superman’s side near the end of the movie and became a hero. Three years later, he announced that he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He died of cardiac arrest on December 10, 2005.
Richard Lester, who was the credited director for Superman II (1980) (though Richard Donner directed many sequences which were ultimately used in the film) and entirely directed Superman III (1983) was so distraught by the death of Roy Kinnear during the shooting of The Return of the Musketeers (1989) that he quit directing. Kinnear bled to death following a broken pelvis which he sustained by falling from a horse.
Marlon Brando, who played Superman’s biological father Jor-El in Superman: The Movie (1978) underwent various personal tragedies later in his life:
In May 1990, Brando’s first son, Christian, shot and killed Dag Drollet, 26, the lover of Christian’s half-sister Cheyenne Brando, at the family’s home above Beverly Hills. Christian, 31, claimed the shooting was accidental. After a heavily publicized trial, Christian was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to ten years in prison.
The tragedy was compounded in 1995, when Cheyenne, said to still be depressed over Drollet’s death, committed suicide by hanging herself. She was only 25 years old.
Marlon Brando’s notoriety, his family’s troubled lives, his self-exile from Hollywood, and his obesity attracted considerable attention in his later career. On July 1, 2004, Brando died at the age of 80. The cause of his death was intentionally withheld, with his lawyer citing privacy concerns. It was later revealed that he died of lung failure brought on by pulmonary fibrosis. He had also been suffering from liver cancer, congestive heart failure and diabetes, which was causing his eyesight to fail.
Both John Haymes Newton and Gerard Christopher, who starred as the title character in the Superboy television series (1988–1992), fell into obscurity after their respective tenures as the character. The same case can be made for Stacy Haiduk, who played love interest Lana Lang on the show.
Lee Quigley (who played the baby Kal-El in the 1978 Superman movie) died in March 1991, at the age of fourteen, after inhaling solvents.
Christopher Reeve played Superman in the Superman saga (Superman: The Movie and three sequels) throughout the 1980s. On May 27, 1995, Reeve was paralyzed from the neck down after being thrown from his horse in a cross country riding event. He died on October 10, 2004 due to heart failure stemming from his medical condition.
Margot Kidder, who played Superman’s love interest Lois Lane opposite Reeve suffered from intense bipolar disorder. In April 1996, she went missing for several days and was found by police in a paranoid, delusional state.
On July 2, 1996, on the anniversary of their grandfather’s suicide, Superman IV (1987) co-star Mariel Hemingway’s older sister Margaux was found dead at age 41. She had taken an overdose of sedatives. Though Margaux’s death was ruled a suicide, Mariel disputed this finding.
Lane Smith, who played Clark Kent and Lois Lane’s boss Perry White on the Lois & Clark television series, was diagnosed with the rare Lou Gehrig’s Disease in April 2005 and died of the disease on June 13, 2005.
Dana Reeve, the widow of Christopher Reeve and co-founder of the Christopher Reeve Foundation with her late husband, publicly revealed that she was diagnosed with lung cancer on August 9, 2005, despite the fact that she was not a cigarette-smoker. She died of the cancer on March 6, 2006 at the age of 45.
Jeph Loeb, writer of Superman comics and the Smallville TV series lost his son, Sam Loeb, due to cancer.
It can be noted that actors who played villains in the movies have not suffered from the curse. Some of the villain actors experienced just the opposite. Gene Hackman (who played Lex Luthor) for example had a hugely successful acting career even long after the Superman movies despite his recent retirement. The same can be said for Terence Stamp (who played General Zod in Superman: The Movie and Superman II), and Kevin Spacey in Superman Returns (2006).
Rebel Without a Cause
All three of the main stars (James Dean, Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo) died under tragic circumstances. Dean was killed in a traffic accident on September 30, 1955 aged 24, Wood drowned on November 29, 1981 aged 43, and Mineo was murdered on February 12, 1976 aged 37. In addition, Nick Adams is often linked to the urban legend surrounding this film. Adams, often considered “The Poor Man’s James Dean”, attemped to let the spirit of Dean live vicariously through Adams in his work, which was notably most successful with The Rebel (TV series). But following an Oscar nomination for Twilight of Honor, his career began to decline and he allegedly died of a drug overdose on February 7, 1968 aged 36 (although several people, including his own daughter, believe he may have been killed).
His friend Nick Adams, who had re-dubbed some of Dean’s speeches in Giant after the accident, died in 1968 from a mysterious drug overdose. Co-star Natalie Wood drowned in equally unusual circumstances in November 1981, and another RWAC star, Sal Mineo, died five years earlier in a knife fight. Troy McHenry, a Beverly Hills doctor, bought the engine from Dean’s Porsche and had it installed in his own car, but was killed the first time he drove it.
The Ring is a 2002 American remake of the 1998 Japanese horror film, Ring (which was also known as Ringu). Both movies are based on the novel, Ring by Koji Suzuki. It was directed by Gore Verbinski and starred Naomi Watts and Martin Henderson. This movie was number 20 on the cable channel Bravo’s list of the 100 Scariest Movie Moments. The story begins with two teenage girls discussing the events of the previous weekend, during which one of them, Katie Embry (played by Amber Tamblyn), went to a cabin in the mountains to spend time with some friends. While talking, the subject of a supposedly cursed videotape is brought up. The other girl, Rebecca ‘Becca’ Kotler (played by Rachael Bella), states that anyone who watches this video receives a phone call, in which a voice says, “you will die in seven days.” Then, exactly seven days (to the minute) after viewing the tape, the viewer dies.
The Cursed Videotape is a fictional item in the Ring cycle series of books and films. Seemingly a normal home-recorded videotape, the tape carries a curse that will kill anyone who watches it, within seven days. In the earlier Japanese films, it is explained as a traditional curse, though given a far greater explanation in later films and in the novels. The American and Korean versions largely follow that of the earlier Japanese explanations.
“There were a couple things that happened on the set of ‘Final Destination 3’ that could have been moments you could have used in the film,” actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead said earlier this year. “I remember during the firework scene, a firework shot off and almost hit somebody in the eye; it kind of shot right in front of him. That was a really scary moment … it was like something right out of the movie!”