Friday, April 27, 2012

Curse You!

Watching horror movies when I was younger was, by society's standards, a transgression. It was something you watched at a sleepover that was going to scare you and even though your parents told you not to, but you still did it. Horror movies were something you whispered about, stole glances of the VHS covers and told your friends about when you wanted to scare them. So what's scarier than a horror movie where the line between fictional and real begins to blur?

The Poltergeist

I remember hearing about this one in a desolate corner of my elementary school playground. Between the first and the third Poltergeist films 4 cast members died. Like, for real died. The deaths varied from domestic abuse, to cancer to septic shock. The origins of this curse stem from the fact that real human skeletons were used in the water scenes and the actors who passed away all touched them at some point.

It doesn't help when Jo Williams (the mom in the first two films repeatedly told reporters that the paintings on her wall would be tilted at odd angles when she returned home from filming and that the skeleton props used in the first movie were actually possessed by angry spirits. While it may make for great convention fodder it comes off as a tad disrespectful 30 years later.

The Omen

AKA The cursed movie that proves lighting can strike a production more than once. On top of several planes being struck by lightning that were all carrying various members of the creative team, on Friday the 13th of August 1976, special effect consultant John Richardson crashed his car in Holland. His assistant was sliced through by the car's front wheel. Scrambling out of the wreckage, Richardson looked up and saw a road sign: Ommen, 66.6km. I've never seen a road sign that reads 66.6km, wouldn't it be 67? Fucking Holland.

Rosemary's Baby

Regular readers know, I loves me some Rosemary's Baby. I, however, very rarely feel comfortable discussing the ins and out of Polanski's personal life but this is another eerie coincidence. Apparently Charles Manson was also obsessed with the film, after brutally murdering a heavily pregnant Sharon Tate, Manson scrawled "Helter Skelter" on a wall in the room. John Lennon was later murdered outside the famous apartment building The Dakota in New York City, the same building used in Rosemary's Baby.

Twilight Zone: The Movie

John Landis, whom in theory I have no problem with, needed to follow some fucking rules on this one. He had lead actor Vic Morrow and two child actors working outside of actor's union regulations and subsequently managed to kill all three of them, with a fucking helicopter. There was a trial where Landis was charged with manslaughter and child endangerment, which was eventually settled out of court.


Who's to say these incidents are real or not? For every unsettling feeling there is another that indicates that we are using the deaths of real people as our own entertainment. Is it harmless or dehumanizing? Nowadays it seems that these "incidents" are fewer and fewer as the demand for "real" (read: found footage) horror escalates. The PR teams that grew up on these "curses" are now the people selling these films to us.

When real tragedies occur, the surviving stars do their best to keep their comments respectful. But when the creepiness stops just short of ending someone's life, Hollywood's PR machine acts like it's hit the jackpot."When we were putting together the press tour for 'Amityville,' Ryan Reynolds and the other stars kept bringing up everything from the real-life deaths that surrounded the shoot to the fact that Ryan kept waking up in the middle of the night around the same time that his character did," said one of the film's publicists. "It's some creepy stuff, but to those of us behind-the-scenes on horror movies, it helps us to help fans believe that such supernatural things can occur."(Source)

Personally, these stories were like crack when I was little. It made watching these films seem like I was transgressing as much as the productions were. Now, it just seems as sad as it does far fetched. Let's leave the scary on the screen. 

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