Most Cursed Movie Sets of All-Time

By Rick Gonzales | Published

the crow

Most Cursed Movie Sets of All-Time

Horror movies are almost always a massive draw at the box office. There is something to be said about being scared in the safe confines of a movie theater or in front of one’s television set. Maybe it’s the relief when the credits roll, and you know the scares are only on the screen. Or are they? As you will soon see, some movie sets have fallen prey to the unexplained.

“Cursed” can be one way of describing it, when crazy, unimaginable, and even deadly things happen on a movie set. It could be something before the cameras roll, it could be something while the cameras are rolling, or it could be that the curse follows those who were making the film.

Here are 10 of the most cursed movie sets of all time. Not all the films on our list are horror films and not all “curses” were horrific (thankfully).

10. Cleopatra (1963)

Some curses can be self-made. In this instance, the production of Cleopatra was troubled almost immediately. The historical epic first was plagued by screen legend Elizabeth Taylor’s poor health which caused delays and three actors to walk. Taylor decided she didn’t want to film in Hollywood, so a relocation to London was in store causing the production costs to shoot through the roof.

To make matters even worse, Richard Burton was brought on as one of the three replacement actors, and from the moment he met Taylor, sparks flew. The problem with that was the two stars were married. Their torrid love affair was the talk of the set, finally finding the tabloids.

best war movies

9. Apocalypse Now (1979)

Sometimes, “curses” on movie sets can be attributed to situations out of one’s control. This was the case with Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, the Vietnam War movie he filmed in the Philippines.

There was brutal weather (typhoons) the production team had to deal with which caused massive delays, a lead actor who just didn’t fit Coppola’s vision had to be replaced, and the replacement actor (Martin Sheen) ended up suffering a near-fatal heart attack. It was so serious that he even had his last rites read to him. Then there was the challenge of dealing with Marlon Brando.

8. The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Ever since the 1939 musical The Wizard of Oz was released, the production has been described as being cursed. First up was the original Tin Man, Buddy Ebsen. The silver makeup applied to him made him so sick that he had to drop out of the film, ending up hospitalized. His replacement, Jack Haley, also experienced some sickness but was able to power through. Margaret Hamilton – The Wicked Witch of the West – also suffered during filming.

During one scene when she is making her escape from Munchkinland, she suffered third-degree burns on her hand and second-degree burns on her face. Her stunt double also suffered major burns. Judy Garland, the film’s star, was constantly berated about her physical appearance, so she constantly took drugs to suppress her appetite. Because of exhaustion, Garland was taken to the studio hospital on a number of occasions to try to get some rest.

7. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Some curses are not man-made and offer no explanation for the events that transpired on or around the movie set. While making Rosemary’s Baby, a horror film about a young woman giving birth to the devil, a number of horrifying incidents occurred. The first was when the movie’s composer, Krzysztof Komeda, was at a party when a friend accidentally pushed him over an escarpment. Komeda was in a coma for fourth months before perishing.

Producer William Castle was next. He was then hospitalized for severe kidney stones that were so painful he began to hallucinate scenes from the movie. But the worst was yet to come. Roman Polanski, the film’s director, was married to Sharon Tate, who was pregnant with their first child. Tate, and her unborn baby, were one of the five victims of the Manson family murders.

6. The Conjuring (2013)

The Conjuring franchise has been based on the true-life stories of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. As if the films aren’t creepy enough, tales from the movie set can also be a bit hair-raising. After a couple of weeks of shooting, Joey King found herself covered in bruises although none of her scenes required any stunts.

Vera Farmiga, who played Lorraine Warren, often times found herself waking up between 3 and 4 AM (the Devil’s hour) and also found claw marks on her leg and laptop. Crew members were witness to items in the Warren’s artifact room moving.

Finally, one of the girls on set claimed to have said, “Something really bad is going to happen out here today,” and sure enough it did. The girl’s elderly mother took a tumble and broke her hip so badly that she needed surgery to repair it.

5. The Crow (1994)

Tragic and cursed. What transpired on the movie set of The Crow prompted major changes in the safety regulations for prop weapons. Brandon Lee was just coming into his own as a powerhouse actor, following in his father’s, the late Bruce Lee, footsteps. The Crow was going to be his big film and the production was nearing its end when tragedy struck. A prop gun used to fire a shot at Lee’s The Crow accidentally fired a dummy round into the actor.

There was talk of curses, as his father was said to have perished because of punches he took on his final film set. Maybe there is something to the curse of the Lees.

4. Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)

Another film and another cursed movie set. Well, that is the conclusion that many came to after the tragic events that marked the filming of Twilight Zone: The Movie. It was actually one horrific event that culminated in the deaths of three people, actor Vic Morrow and two child actors, Myca Dinh Le (7) and Renee Shin-Yi Chen (6). Their deaths, caused by the rotor blades of an out-of-control helicopter, brought much change (yet again) to Hollywood movie sets, but sadly too little, too late.


3. Poltergeist (1982)

The curse that was said to have followed the actors from Tobe Hooper’s 1982 Poltergeist reared its fatal head one time too many. It was said by special effects makeup artist Craig Robinson during a deposition that production used real skeletons during filming and that was the cause of the death curse.

The first actor to succumb to this was Dominique Dunne who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend only a few short months after Poltergeist premiered. Three years later, actor Julian Beck died of stomach cancer and in 1987, actor Will Sampson was lost to post-operative kidney failure.

Perhaps the biggest loss of all came when Heather O’Rourke, who starred as Carol Anne, passed away from congenital stenosis of the intestine at the young age of 12, right before her filming on Poltergeist 3 was set to conclude.

2. The Omen (1976)

Talk about a cursed movie set. The Omen was fraught with numerous bizarre incidents that included a stuntman being viciously attacked by a rottweiler and producer Harvey Bernhard almost being struck by lightning. On three separate occasions, the planes of screenwriter David Seltzer, star of The Omen and screen legend Gregory Peck, and producer Mace Neufeld were also almost struck by lightning. Peck himself also found himself lucky when he avoided a plane flight that crashed and killed everyone on board.

The worst of all, though, came when John Richardson, special effects designer, and his wife Liz Moore, both of whom were working on another film, were in a head-on collision. Richardson was able to survive the fatal accident, but Moore was tragically decapitated.

1. The Exorcist (1973)

Death and destruction plagued the movie set of the 1973 horror film, The Exorcist, which tells the story of 12-year-old Regan (Linda Blair) who becomes possessed by the demon Pazuzu. While the film was a horror on screen, it was behind the scenes that things got truly horrific.

The first incident occurred when a bird flew into a circuit breaker which caused a massive fire on the set. The only thing not destroyed in the fire was the bedroom where exorcism scenes were to be performed. Both Blair and her co-star Ellen Burstyn constantly complained of back issues, but what really had production staff thinking curse was the deaths that followed.