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Film Curses


2 April 2015 - 17 April 2015



Introduction


Have you ever been thinking that your life might be scripted? You are not alone. If so, then the writer of the script may have had a few surprises for fellow script writers. It could be considered as a form of collegiate buffoonery, something that could get out of hand easily if it involves unlimited powers. People have been wounded and killed in bizarre accidents and coincidences in a way that some movies appear to have been accompanied by a jinx, an evil curse. Curses appear to have a preference for movies that deal with evil and satanic issues. I have digged up some new information about one of the strangest events of all.



A Rebel Without A Cause


It is said that the 1955 film Rebel Without A Cause has a curse attached to it. James Dean died in a car crash after working on this picture. The story about the James Dean's cursed car attracted some attention, but the facts mentioned in the car curse legend are mostly unverifiable. Part of the tale is that Troy McHenry, a physician who bought the engine from Dean's Porsche, and had it installed in his own racing car, was killed the first time he drove it [1].

What is less known, is that James Dean's car accident happened in the weekend that the film was first on screen. Only weeks earlier, Dean had filmed an advert for the National Highways Committee, in which he asked America's youth to drive safely "because the next life you save may be mine" [1]? The story of this curse does not seem overly convincing to everyone, but this is just an appetiser. The best is saved for last.



Superman's curse


George Reeves, who played Superman from 1952 to 1958, died of a gunshot wound at age 45 under disputed circumstances. Christopher Reeve played Superman in the Superman film series from 1978 to 1987. He was paralysed from the neck down after being thrown from his horse in a cross-country equestrian riding event on 1995. The names Reeves and Reeve are remarkably similar. The widow of actor Christopher Reeve, Dana Reeve, died of lung cancer in 2006 at the age of 44 despite being a non-smoker.

Margot Kidder, who played Superman’s love Lois Lane, later suffered a psychosis. She did not think of a curse as she noted: "When my car crashed this August, if I hadn't hit a telegraph pole after rolling three times, I would have dropped down a 50ft to 60ft ravine. Why don't people focus on that?" There are also a number of actors that played Superman that were not affected by the curse, such as Dean Cain, Brandon Routh, Bob Holiday and Henry Cavill. The curse might therefore be more of a Reeve(s) thing and Superman might be the connection.



Brandon and Bruce Lee


Brandon Lee, son of kung-fu star Bruce Lee, died on the set of The Crow in 1993 in circumstances eerily similar to the plot of the film his father was making when he died in 1973. Bruce Lee was shot with a gun he thought was unloaded. His son died in 1993 when he was shot by a gun that is supposed to be loaded. Brandon Lee's character in The Crow is shot dead the night before his wedding while Lee was due to marry his fiancee immediately after filming stopped [1].



Poltergeist


Each of the three Poltergeist films was marked by deaths. There have been four deaths among the cast. First there was the murder of lead actress Dominique Dunne in 1982 by her former boyfriend, a year after the release of the first film. It was followed by the death of actor Julian Beck in 1985, who died at age 60 of stomach cancer when production of Poltergeist II began. Will Sampson, who played a role in Poltergeist II, died at age 53 in 1987. Finally, the 12-year-old actress Heather O'Rourke died from septic shock, less than a year after the release of Poltergeist III [2].



The Exorcist


The 1973 horror film The Exorcist is another specimen of horror that involves satanism. Despite having a Christian message, it was one of the most controversial horror films ever made. Many people were traumatised by the movie. Especially young girls were vomiting, fainting, and freaking out. The film was based on the 1971 novel The Exorcist that itself was based on a real story from 1949.

The film set was plagued by constant electrical glitches. In October 1972, the crew was spooked with speculation that the Devil himself was interfering with the production. Just after the filming started, the actor Max Von Sydow, learned that his brother had died. In January 1973 actor Jack MacGowran suddenly died of Influenza, only days after completing his scenes for the movie.

Two actresses were wounded during recording. Their screaming in the film was not acting as the film director decided that using those scenes would contribute to the realism. When the film made its premiere at the Metropolitan Theater in Rome there was a raging thunderstorm. A nearby church was struck by lightning, and a 400 years old large long cross came tumbling down. The public was spooked and the cross was not moved from the spot for days.



Rosemary's Baby


Roman Polanski's 1968 film Rosemary's Baby tells the story of a young Manhattan woman whose husband trades their unborn child in a Faustian pact with a group of devil worshippers. A year after its release, Polanski's wife, the actress Sharon Tate, was murdered by the Manson Family, a small, fringe Californian sect headed by Charles Manson, when she was pregnant with their first child. Ominously, one film critic, who reviewed the film before her murder, described the satanists as resembling a small, far-out Californian religious sect [1].

Charles Manson had a score to settle with the former owner of the home, music producer Terry Melcher as he had refused to record Manson’s music. The Manson family went to the house, where they killed Tate and four others. The next day, they killed two more people, including a woman named Rosemary LaBianca [3].

Charles Manson had become obsessed with the Beatles' White Album. He attributed his so-called visions about a coming race war to this record. It is therefore remarkable that John Lennon was shot and killed by Mark David Chapman in the same Manhattan apartment building Rosemary lived. The Beatles' White Album hit, Dear Prudence, referred to Rosemary Baby lead actress Mia Farrow’s younger sister, Prudence Farrow, who the band had met in India [1].

Already before Sharon Tate was killed, the curse manifested itself. Producer William Castle was taken to a hospital with kidney failure. At some point he yelled "Rosemary, for God's sake drop that knife." As he recovered, he found out that a Polish composer who worked on the film music score was in the same hospital. He died of a brain clot, which was similar to the death of Rosemary's friend Hutch in the film [1].
 
The Omen poster
 



The Omen


The 1976 horror film The Omen is probably the most cursed movie ever. It was advertised with with a 666-logo inside the film's title and uplifting slogans like "You have been warned, if something frightening happens to you today, think about it. It may be The Omen," the cheery notice "Good morning, you are one day closer to the end of the world," and a conclusion stating "Remember, you have been warned."

In The Omen, the wife of the American ambassador to Italy gave birth to a son, who died almost immediately. A priest then convinced the ambassador to replace his son with an orphan without telling his wife. Mysterious events soon started to haunt them. The child turned out to be evil. Possibly it was the Antichrist. The Omen was first released on 6 June 1976 in order to make it refer to the number 666. The length of the film is 111 minutes.

These ingredients made The Omen an ideal candidate for a hefty curse. Two months before the filming started, the son of lead actor Gregory Peck committed suicide. When Peck went to the film set of The Omen, his plane was hit by lightning. Curiously, a few weeks later executive producer Mace Neufeld’s flight was also hit by lightning. Producer Harvey Bernhard was just missed by a lightning bolt in Rome. Later, the hotel Neufeld was staying in was bombed by the IRA [1].

A plane hired by the studio to take aerial shots was switched at the last moment by the airline. The people who took the original plane were all killed when it crashed on takeoff. An animal handler who worked on the film set died two weeks after working on the film when he was eaten alive by a large feline [1]. Accounts differ on whether it is a tiger or a lion.

Stuntman Alf Joint was badly injured and hospitalised when a stunt went wrong when he was on the set on A Bridge Too Far in the Netherlands, less than a year after The Omen was finished. He was almost killed when he jumped off a building and missed the inflatable safety-bags that were meant to cushion his fall. He told that he felt that he had been pushed even though there was nobody near him at the time [1].

The most bizarre thing that happened, probably is the following. On Friday 13 August 1976 special effects consultant John Richardson was driving through the Netherlands with Liz Moore. They were also working on A Bridge Too Far. They became involved in a car accident that killed his Liz Moore. She was decapitated in a scene that is said to have been eerily similar to one of the most gruesome scenes Richardson had designed for The Omen. The story goes that the accident happened near a road sign stating a distance of 66.6 kilometers to the town of Ommen [1].

There are no road signs in the Netherlands giving distances in fractions of kilometres. Only kilometre markers use fractions. Near Raalte is a junction where the N348 joins the N35 towards Ommen and Nijverdal. This location currently corresponds with kilometre marker 66.6 on route N348. A road sign stating the direction towards Ommen is less than fifty metres away from this whacky kilometre marker. I am familiar with the location because I lived in nearby Nijverdal as a child. At first glance, this might have been the crash location.

After I made an inquiry in April 2015, a local newspaper named De Stentor did some research into this matter and contacted a former police officer from the area. According to the police officer, the accident indeed took place near Raalte on the N348 between Raalte and Deventer, close to the Overmeenweg, at a distance of six kilometres from the current location of the 66.6 kilometre marker. He told that he still remembers the car crash very well [5].

According to the police officer, the accident happened when he was on service. A man and a woman had parked their car on a parking lot alongside the N348. When they drove away in the direction of Deventer, they entered the wrong lane and collided head-on into an oncoming vehicle driven by a resident of Nijverdal. The view there is somewhat limited because of two gentle curves in the road. There was no road sign mentioning Ommen near the crash site [5].

The woman was killed on the spot, the car was completely destroyed and disposed to fire station. Later it turned out that the couple were foreigners involved in the production of the film "A Bridge too Far", the police officer told the newspaper. He suspects that Richardson, who was used to driving on the left side of the road, was distracted and not paying attention when he left the parking lot. He also mentioned that the accident happened during a weekend [5].

In a Channel 4 programme Richardson said the following: "It was certainly very odd because it happened on Friday 13th," and that "right opposite the point where the accident happened, was an old mile-post with nothing but sixes on it," and finally "what spooked me even more was when I discovered it was on a road to a place called Ommen.” [4]. He did not mention that there was a road sign with Ommen. He only mentioned the kilometre marker. The 66.6 kilometre marker may have been moved after 1976, for example because the route of the road has changed. He may also have misread the 60,6 kilometre marker.

Based on the current location of the marker and the details given by the police officer, another possible scenario is that Richardson was brought to Raalte or a hospital in Zwolle, and crossed the junction of the N348 with the N35. There he may have noticed kilometre marker 66.6, and immediately after that a road sign stating the direction towards Ommen. This may have freaked him out to the point that it became part of the legend of the curse. Recollections of an event that happened decades ago are often not accurate, and this applies to the memories of the police officer as well as Richardson.



Concluding remarks


It is at least remarkable that the 66.6 kilometre marker is now near a road sign stating the direction to Ommen on the same road that was the scene of the car crash. What are the odds for such a feat to occur if the accident happened on another location and the kilometre marker was moved? Alan Tyler, who made a documentary about the curse on The Omen, noticed that odd things happened when he was working on it. The strangest was that he had two different camera crews filming in separate locations and but that all the footage showed the same fault. It did not seem to do with something satanic, but it made him wonder [1].

When I was writing this article after I received the email from De Stentor, a few curious things happened. When I took a glance at my stock portfolio, out of three stocks I owned, one had a quote of € 13.13 while another position had a total value of € 1,313 (500 * 2.626). It was somewhat eerie because the car crash is said to have happened on Friday the 13th. That evening I had an appointment, but it was cancelled because the car of the man that was going to meet me broke down. He came from Almelo. The route to Almelo from Sneek where I live is via Nijverdal and the N35 through the junction with the N347. The alternative route is via Ommen.

Another rather curious occurrence was that a search for "Ommen 666" in Google produced a link to a website called www.hondentrainingsneek.nl. At first glance, it appears to be a site for dog training in Sneek. It seems not a good idea to visit this website. It is fishy. Somehow "Ommen 666" is inserted into topic titles, such as "Dog Training Terry Ommen 66.6km". The text itself is incoherent with a few references to Ommen 66.6 in it [6]. This is noteworthy because I currently live in Sneek, previously lived in Nijverdal, while my enquiry produced the previously unknown fact that Richardson crashed into the car of a resident of Nijverdal.



References


1. Curse of The Omen and other Hollywood hexes - Barry Didcock, Scotland Herald, 2012: http://www.heraldscotland.com/...; backup copy: http://www.naturalmoney.org/omencurse.html
2. 'Poltergeist' Curse, Snopes.com, 1995-2015: http://www.snopes.com/movies/films/poltergeist.asp; backup copy: http://www.naturalmoney.org/poltergeist.html
3. Charles Manson - Wikipedia (as on 11 April 2015): http://www.naturalmoney.org/charlesmanson.html; current version: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Manson
4. Curse or coincidence?... ‘Conspiro Media’ re-examines the grisly chain of events connected to those involved in the ’70s horror-flick, ‘The Omen’..., conspiromedia.wordpress.com, 2014: https://conspiromedia.wordpress.com/...; backup copy: http://www.naturalmoney.org/curseorcoincidence.html
5. Email exchange with De Stentor - Naturalmoney.org, 2015: http://www.naturalmoney.org/stentormails.html
6. Dog training Terry Ommen 66.6km - Hondentrainingsneek.nl, 2010: http://www.naturalmoney.org/...; original source (not advised): http://www.hondentrainingsneek.nl/train-je-hond/hondentraining-terry-ommen-66-6km/