Film The 10 Most Infamous Cursed Movies of All Time

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A list of troubled or "cursed" movies, looking at deaths, illnesses and mysteries surrounding some of the most infamous film productions of all time. A variety of films have been released that are thought to carry with them a "curse," due to the troubles faced by the cast and crew either during or immediately following the film's production. These incidents range from the tragic (as in the accident that cost "Superman" star Christopher Reeve the use of his legs) to the simply unfortunate (such as "Tower Heist" director Brett Ratner's use of a homophobic slur costing him a gig as Oscar producer.)

What are some of the most well known movie curses? Regardless of whether you believe these creepy stories about cursed films truly represent something supernatural - or if they are simply regrettable coincidences - nevertheless the existence of so many such productions is uncanny and fascinating.

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Christopher Reeve played the titular hero in the '70s and '80s Superman franchise (including "Superman: The Movie" and three sequels.) The actor was paralyzed from the neck down after being thrown from his horse in a cross country riding event in 1995, and subsequently died in 2004 due to heart failure stemming from his medical condition.  But Reeve isn't the only person involved in the "Superman" films to face personal struggles. Margot Kidder, who played Lois Lane, suffered a bout of mental illness in 1996, and was found dazed and filthy, wandering the streets of Los Angeles. Richard Pryor, who appeared in "Superman III," died of multiple sclerosis only a few years later.  Amazingly, this was not the only troubled retelling of the Superman story. George Reeves, who played the Man of Steel in the 1950s television program "Adventures of Superman," died at the age of 45 in 1959. The official finding was suicide, but some believe he was murdered or the victim of an accidental shooting.

Superman is a 1978 superhero film directed by Richard Donner. It is based on the DC Comics character of the same name and stars Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder, Glenn Ford, Phyllis Thaxter, Jackie Cooper, Trevor Howard, Marc McClure, Terence Stamp, Valerie Perrine, and ...more

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Actors: Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve, Terence Stamp Margot Kidder, + more

Initial Release: 1978

Directed by: Richard Donner

Also Ranked

#65 on The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies of All Time

#8 on The Best Gene Hackman Movies

#11 on The Greatest Film Scores of All Time

#100 on The Greatest Soundtracks of All Time

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"Tower Heist," originally conceived by star Eddie Murphy as an African-American nod to the "Ocean's Eleven" films, opened in November to a disappointing first weekend (especially considering the all-star cast.) But the film's string of disappointments went beyond the financials.

The film's director, Brett Ratner, lost his job as producer of the forthcoming Oscar telecast just days after the film opened. (While promoting "Tower Heist" at a Q&A session, Ratner stated that he felt "rehearsals are for f*gs," and the ensuing controversy over his use of the homophobic slur led to his resignation from the Academy Awards show.)

Far more tragically, rapper Heavy D, who had a cameo in "Tower Heist," was found dead in his driveway only 5 days after the the movie was released.

Tower Heist este un film de comedie din 2011, regizat de Brett Ratner după un scenariu de Ted Griffin. ...more

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Actors: Kate Upton, Eddie Murphy, Joan Rivers, Ben Stiller Matthew Broderick, + more

Initial Release: 2011

Directed by: Brett Ratner

Also Ranked

#83 on The Best Movies of 2011

#634 on The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films

#24 on The Best Eddie Murphy Movies

#20 on The Best Ben Stiller Movies

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How's this for a statistic: Four actors who appeared in "Poltergeist" films died within 6 years of the first movie's release. They include:

Dominique Dunne, who played Dana in the first movie, and died at age 22 after being murdered by her former boyfriend.

Julian Beck, the 60-year-old actor who played Henry Kane in "Poltergeist II: The Other Side," died in 1985 of stomach cancer. He had been diagnosed before he had accepted the role.

Will Sampson, 53 years old, played Taylor the medicine man in "Poltergeist II. He died as a result of post-operative kidney failure in 1987.

But most infamous and wrenching was the loss of young Heather O'Rourke, who starred as Carol Anne Freeling in all three "Poltergeist" films. In early 1987, O'Rourke was misdiagnosed with Crohn's Disease. During the course of being treated for this disease she did not have, O'Rourke became more ill and eventually suffered cardiac arrest. Her family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Kaiser Permanente Hospital, which had treated her for Crohn's rather than the actual condition - a bowel obstruction - that in part led to her death. The case was eventually settled out of court.

Poltergeist is a 1982 American supernatural thriller film, directed by Tobe Hooper and co-written and produced by Steven Spielberg. It is the first and most successful entry in the Poltergeist film series. Set in a California suburb, the plot focuses on a family whose home is invaded by malevolent ...more

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Actors: Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams, Heather O'Rourke, Zelda Rubinstein Beatrice Straight, + more

Initial Release: 1982

Directed by: Tobe Hooper

Also Ranked

#258 on The Greatest Film Scores of All Time

#153 on The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies

#160 on The Greatest Movie Themes

#589 on The Most Rewatchable Movies

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Actress Judy Garland became a cinematic icon after playing Dorothy Gale in "The Wizard of Oz," but her personal life nevertheless proved rocky in the years after the film, including four divorces, a string of infamous insecurities and neurosis, financial instability and addiction struggles. She died of an accidental overdose of barbiturates at age 47.

And problems for the "Wizard" cast didn't stop there. Four months after the movie was released, Frank Morgan, who played The Wizard himself, was involved in a serious car accident. Though he was left largely uninjured, his wife Alma suffered a crippling knee injury that would plague her for the rest of her life, and his chauffeur was killed. Morgan died in 1949, never seeing the film become a staple of television and an all-time childhood favorite.

Finally, both Uncle Henry and Auntie Em met with bad luck following "Oz." Charley Grapewin - who played Henry - died in 1956, just before the film debuted for the first time on television (where it would become a staple.) Clara Blandick, who played Autnie Em, committed suicide at the age of 81 by taking an overdose of sleeping pills and putting a plastic bag over her head.

SO troubled was the production of "Wizard," there were a number of notable accidents on set while the film was being made. Several actors playing flying monkeys would accidentally break the wires holding them up and come crashing down to the set (though thankfully a net had been placed there to prevent grievous injury.) As well, the actress playing the Wicked Witch of the West - Margaret Hamilton - was badly burned while filming a scene in which she explodes into flames. When Hamilton took time off to recover, a stand-in tried to replicate the stunt in her stead... only to be burned in the same fashion while filming the same scene.

The Wizard of Oz is a 1939 American musical fantasy film produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and the most well-known and commercially successful adaptation based on the 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. The film stars Judy Garland; Terry the dog, billed as Toto; Ray Bolger, Jack ...more

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Actors: Judy Garland, Margaret Hamilton, Frank Morgan, Billie Burke Ray Bolger, + more

Initial Release: 1939

Directed by: Mervyn LeRoy, Norman Taurog, King Vidor, George Cukor Victor Fleming

Also Ranked

#4 on The Best Musical Movies of All Time

#202 on The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies of All Time

#6 on Musical Movies With the Best Songs

#375 on The Most Overrated Movies of All Time

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Director Roman Polanski's deeply unsettling film about a pregnant woman who may be in the thrall of a cult of Satanists carries with it a number of unsettling stories from behind the scenes as well.

Most famously, one year after the movie's release, Polanski’s own wife - actress Sharon Tat - was murdered by the Manson Family. (Tate was eight months pregnant with the couple’s first child at the time.)

Additionally, the film's producer - William Castle - suffered from painful gallstones immediately following the film's production, eventually requiring a series of treatments and surgery. The film's composer, Krzysztof Komeda, was also impacted by the curse - he died suddenly from an accidental fall. Castle later wrote in his memoirs that it felt like the movie "Rosemary's Baby" was coming true in real life, and that the cast and crew were being stalked by witches.

Rosemary's Baby is a 1968 American psychological horror film written and directed by Roman Polanski, based on the bestselling 1967 novel of the same name by Ira Levin. The cast includes Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon, Ralph Bellamy, Maurice Evans, Sidney Blackmer, and Charles Grodin. It ...more

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Actors: Mia Farrow, Tony Curtis, John Cassavetes, Charles Grodin Ruth Gordon, + more

Initial Release: 1968

Directed by: Roman Polanski

Also Ranked

#261 on The Most Overrated Movies of All Time

#270 on The Greatest Film Scores of All Time

#362 on The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies

#212 on The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars

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A seemingly surprising number of principals involved in the making of the John Wayne film "The Conqueror" succumbed to cancer in the years following the film's release. Director Dick Powell died of cancer less than 7 years after the movie's 1956 debut. Actor Pedro Armendáriz was diagnosed with terminal cancer in the early 1960s, filmed one last movie (the James Bond thriller "From Russia With Love") to leave his family with some funds, and then took his own life in 1963. Actress Agnes Moorehead died of cancer a decade later in 1974. Thereafter, BOTH principal stars - John Wayne and Susan Hayward - were diagnosed with the disease and died within 4 years of one another.

Combine this with the knowledge that above-ground atomic tests were run at Nevada's Yucca Flats - very near the area where the movie was shot, in Utah's Snow Canyon State Park - and it seems obvious what happened. The cast and crew were exposed to radiation while making the movie (a rather ridiculous take on the Genghis Khan story) and then proceeded to die from the disease. This theory has largely been dismissed as an urban legend in later years, as the deaths could likely be traced to either the unhealthy lifestyles of some of the afflicted or just to the typical proportion of people who eventually contract cancer during the course of their lives.

The Conqueror is a 1956 CinemaScope epic film produced by Howard Hughes and starring John Wayne as the Mongol conqueror Genghis Khan. Other performers included Susan Hayward, Agnes Moorehead, and Pedro Armendáriz. Directed by actor/director Dick Powell, the film was principally shot near St. George, ...more

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Actors: John Wayne, Susan Hayward, Agnes Moorehead, Pedro Armendáriz John Hoyt, + more

Initial Release: 1956

Directed by: Dick Powell

Also Ranked

#46 on The Best Susan Hayward Movies

#99 on The Best John Wayne Movies of All Time, Ranked

#40 on The Best Movies of 1956

#22 on The Best Agnes Moorehead Movies

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The Omen

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"The Omen" is a film about a couple raising a child that may in fact be the son of the Devil. (Shades of "Rosemary's Baby"!) So it's only natural that there would be some superstitious rumblings around the production to begin with. But the making of "The Omen" really was surrounded on all sides by tragedy.

Two months before filming was due to begin on the film, star Gregory Peck's son committed suicide. Later that year, when Peck was flying to London to make the movie, his plane was struck by lightening. As if that weren't enough? A few weeks later, executive producer Mace Neufeld was flying to London and his plane was ALSO struck by lightening. (I thought that wasn't supposed to strike twice!)

Neufeld's hotel was later bombed by the IRA, as was a restaurant where a number of the cast and crew were planning to dine. A tiger handler on the site was killed in a freak accident. Another plane hired to do aerial work on the film ended up crashing while working on another production, killing everyone on board.

Even after the film was finished, strange troubles and tragedies seemed to abound. Eight months after working on the film, special effects consultant and designer John Richardson suffered injuries in a head-on car collision in Holland that killed his assistant, Liz Moore. A road sign by the crash read: Ommen, 66.6 km. Richardson was in Holland working on the war film "A Bridge Too Far," along with a colleague from the set of "The Omen," stuntman Alf Joint. While performing a standard stunt on "A Bridge Too Far," jumping off of a rooftop into a large inflatable cushion below, Joint slipped awkwardly and was badly hurt. He later told friends he felt like he had been pushed.

Rumors of the curse of the "Omen" have abounded for years, and director Richard Donner, Neufeld and others associated with the film eventually spoke in interviews about the superstitions. Actor Harvey Stevens - who played young Damien in the movie - and Gregory Peck both refused to speak about the curse for the remainder of their careers.

The Omen is a 1995 mystery film directed by Jack Sholder. ...more

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Initial Release: 1995

Directed by: Jack Sholder

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Mel Gibson's retelling of the Biblical story of Christ's death faced numerous challenges while filming, and they weren't even related to the infamous director's run-ins with the law.

Star Jim Caviezel, who starred in the film as Jesus, suffered numerous injuries during the production, including being struck by lightning during filming (witnesses reported seeing actual smoke rising from his head), dislocating his shoulder while carrying the crucifix, and having a portion of his flesh ripped off accidentally while being fake-whipped.

The film's assistant director, Jan Michelini, was also struck by lightning - TWICE - on the movie's set. John Debney, who wrote the score for the film, has referred to the job as the most difficult assignment of his life, and claims that he closely felt the presence of Satan in his studio while working on the film.

The film's release also brought with it a slew of tragedies. On the movie's opening day, actor Carl Anderson - who played Judas in the film "Jesus Christ Superstar" - died following a prolonged fight with leukemia. As well, Kansas advertising sales manager Peggy Scott, died after suffering heart failure during the film's brutal crucifixion scene.

The Passion of the Christ is a 2004 American epic biblical drama film directed by Mel Gibson and starring Jim Caviezel as Jesus Christ. It depicts the Passion of Jesus largely according to the New Testament Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. It also draws on pious accounts such as the Friday ...more

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Actors: Monica Bellucci, Jim Caviezel, Claudia Gerini, Rosalinda Celentano Francesco Cabras, + more

Initial Release: 2004

Directed by: Mel Gibson

Also Ranked

#48 on The Most Overrated Movies of All Time

#274 on The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars

#78 on The Best Movies Based on True Stories

#687 on The Most Rewatchable Movies

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