The Accursed Production
The Curse Of....
Better Name

(permanent link) added: 2013-05-20 06:08:03 sponsor: AgProv edited by: Larkmarn (last reply: 2014-02-28 07:01:28)

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Mainly film, but might also be TV. Is there a trope for this situation. A film, or film series, is made, sometimes with the added thrill of it having a supernatural dimension, and during or shortly afterwards, a series of (most probably) coincidental tragedies and disasters start afflicting the cast and production crew? I can think of two examples of "cursed" productions: the Exorcist series, where news coverage and popular legend points to inexplicable deaths, tragedies, and ill-fortune coming to people associated with the production. (An Aesop might be - don't tempt the Devil or call his name or he'll surely come. see "radio"). And the Superman movie series - think Christopher Reeve's personal tragedy, of falling off his horse and becoming paraplegic; or the actress who played Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) going completely insane the way she did. Tragedies happen, and no causal link or actual curse is presumed. But popular imagination aided by sensational news reporting attributes a "curse" and makes it a trope...


  • The movie of A Confederacy of Dunces has been in Development Hell for years, initially since every fat comedian announced to be playing the lead died (John Belushi, John Candy, Chris Farley), and then when Will Farrell and a supporting cast was announced, the head of the Louisiana State Film Commission was murdered. Then Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. And that seems to be the end of the attempts to make the film for now.
  • The Exorcist
    • Actress Ellen Burstyn suffered a lifelong, crippling, spinal injury when a special effects stunt went inexplicably wrong - the wire she was on to simulate her possessed daughter throwing her across a room pulled with ten times the expected force, badly injuring her back.
    • the child star Linda Blair later on developed mental illness that some excited people thought was demonic possession.
  • Poltergeist. This movie is popularly thought to have attracted a curse. It has been pointed out that real corpses were used as props in some scenes.
    • Dominique Dunne, who played Dana in the first movie, died in November 1982 at age 22, after being strangled by her abusive former boyfriend John Thomas Sweeney.
    • Julian Beck, 60,who played Henry Kane in Poltergeist II: The Other Side, died in September 14, 1985 of stomach cancer (diagnosed before he had accepted the role).
    • Will Sampson, 53, who played Taylor the medicine man in Poltergeist II, died as a result of post-operative kidney failure and pre-operative malnutrition problems in June 1987.
    • Heather O'Rourke, who played Carol Anne in all three Poltergeist movies, died in February 1988 at the age of 12 after a hospital misdiagnosis led her to be treated for the wrong ailment.
  • Superman
    • Christopher Reeves' famously became paralyzed due to a riding accident.
    • Margot Kidder was said to suffer real life Sanity Slippage following the movies.
  • The Return Of The Musketeers (1988)
    • British character actor Roy Kinnear died on set when a horse he was riding became uncontrollably wild and galloped away, eventually bucking him off into a wall. He died a day later from complications to a broken pelvis.
    • Director Richard Lester was so shaken by the incident that he retired prematurely from the film business, despite a series of successes.
    • Kinnear's family successfully sued the film makers for negligence.
  • The Wizard of Oz
    • Four months after the movie was released Frank Morgan, who played the Wizard, was involved in a serious car accident.
    • His chauffeur/house servant was killed in the December 1939 smash in New Mexico and Frank’s wife Alma was injured. Frank and his son George escaped unharmed.
    • Like Linda Blair, Judy Garland's post-child star life was plagued with depression, mental illness, and other calamities. Some have said the Curse even encompassed her daughter, [[Film/Cabaret Liza Minelli]].

  • BBC Radio Scotland in the late 1960's decided to really spice up Hallowe'en broadcasting, by having a simulated Black Mass in the studio to broadcast to the nation. This was despite objections from the Church. The play's producer went home that night, trying to shake off a conviction that something bad would happen. He found his house empty save for a scribbled note from his wife to say she'd had to rush their daughter to A&E. finding them at the hospital, he discovered earlier that evening a feral rat had got into the house and badly bitten the child's face, leaving a permanent scar. Next day he recounted this to a Church of Scotland minister who was broadcasting a God-slot. The priest listened, then said:
    Well, what can ye expect? You called on the Wee Man and he answered you knocking on his door. Only he didnae come to the studio. He made it a wee bit more personal than that, aye."

  • The mystique that has developed concerning Shakespeare's Macbeth. Macbeth universally is thought of as this trope embodied. For that reason it's usually referred to as The Scottish Play by superstitious actors.
  • When Lawrence Wright put his thirteenth play on the stage in 1938 titled On With The Show, he avoided prompting fear among traditionally superstitious actors by saying that it was actually his fourteenth. The fates now thwarted, he went ahead. First, the theatre burnt down and all the props were destroyed. On the replacement smaller pavilion one musician slipped and sprained his wrist while two others were rushed away with gastric troubles. A main character lost his voice while another had to have all his teeth pulled out, leaving him helpless throughout the run. A dancer was ordered to take complete rest, two members of the chorus suffered from sprained ankles and a separate dancer fell upstairs and hurt her leg. The manager collapsed one day while the wardrobe organiser fell and sprained her arm. It was then discovered that there were thirteen people in the cast, thirteen musicians in the band and thirteen songs in the show.

Real Life
  • The Conqueror.
    • Years after the making of this film, members of the cast and crew, most notably the superbly mis-cast John Wayne, were diagnosed with cancers and leukemia. Until somebody pointed it out, the common link to the film was never realized. It turned out to have been shot in a North American desert in Nevada, not far away from a nuclear test site. The cluster of cancers was due to having lived and worked on the film set, where the fall-out was densest... this is unique and belongs in Real Life, as the cause of the "curse" - thirty years on - was so unmistakeably clear- with ample evidence to back it.
    • Even worse, they trucked the hot (radioactive) dirt from the desert back to Hollywood to finish off the sets they were building for verisimilitude. Ridiculously sad all the way round.
  • According to the magazine Fortean Times, the clothes and personal possessions of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, have brought misfortune to those who have bought or otherwise acquired them. FT has accumulated quite a few examples of this:
    • At least two American entrepreneurs who intended to tour Diana exhibitions around the USA, centred on the clothes and her personal style, have become ruinously bankrupt. One, Kate McEnroe, even lost her main job as a TV executive amid allegations of financial embezzlement and misrepresentation. Maureen R. Dunkel, a similarly motivated entepreneur, crashed owing over $1,500,000 dollars.
    • Diana dresses
      • Caterer Tomasso Butti paid $120,000 for Diana dresses, with the hope of opening a chain of Diana-themed eateries. He is now bankrupt and legal proceedings drag on.
      • One buyer of a Diana dress died suddenly a year later.
      • One man bought a Diana dress for $240,000 - which had already passed through the hands of McEnroe, Dunkel, Butti and others - as "a surprise for his wife." Let us hope she appreciated the gift.
    • The nominated charity, the Diana Trust, was embroiled in a long and mutually ruinous lawsuit with the noticeably mercenary Franklin Mint, who were producing Diana tat for money and even though their business flourished in the wake of her death, had reneged on a promise to donate to the charity. The charity suffered big losses, and the bad publicity nearly killed the Franklin Mint. Franklin Mint had paid $150,000 dollars for a particular dress, so as to have exclusive use of it for their Diana dolls.
    • Diana's former butler, Mr Borrell, appears to have become a recluse surrounded by his memories and mementos of her.
    • And of course, there is the meltdown suffered by Egyptian multimillionaire Mohammed-Al-Fayed (who lost his son in the crash) who in his grief blamed the deaths on a British establishment conspiracy, and still does today. The fact a drunken or otherwise intoxicated driver in his employment might have been the cause of death is something he vehemently denies.

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