The Most Infamous Cursed Movies Of All Time

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.

  • Christopher Reeve played the titular hero in 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 passed in 2004 due to heart failure stemming from his medical condition. 

    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. She was found dazed and filthy, wandering the streets of Los Angeles. Richard Pryor, who appeared in Superman III, passed from multiple sclerosis only a few years later. 

    Believe it or not, this franchise wasn't the only troubled  Superman series - spurring the nickname the "Superman curse." George Reeves, who played the Man of Steel in the 1950s television program Adventures of Superman, passed at the age of 45 in 1959. The official finding was that he ended his own life, but some believe he was a victim.

    • Actors: Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman, Marlon Brando, Margot Kidder, Ned Beatty
    • Released: 1978
    • Directed by: Richard Donner

    Available On:


  • A number of principals involved in John Wayne's The Conqueror succumbed to cancer in the years following the film's release. Director Dick Powell passed from cancer less than seven years after the movie's 1956 debut. Actor Pedro Armendáriz was diagnosed with terminal cancer in the early '60s, filmed one last movie (the James Bond thriller From Russia With Love) to leave his family with money, then took his own life in 1963. Actress Agnes Moorehead passed from cancer a decade later, in 1974. Thereafter, both principal stars, John Wayne and Susan Hayward, were diagnosed with cancer and passed within four years of one another.

    Combine this with the knowledge that above-ground atomic tests were run at Nevada's Yucca Flats - very near where the movie was filmed, in Utah's Snow Canyon State Park - and it seems obvious what happened. It's speculated that the cast and crew were exposed to radiation while making the movie (a controversial take on Genghis Khan), which caused their cancers. This theory was dismissed as an urban legend, as the passings could likely be traced to either the unhealthy lifestyles or coincidence.

    • Actors: John Wayne, Susan Hayward, Agnes Moorehead, Pedro Armendáriz, John Hoyt
    • Released: 1956
    • Directed by: Dick Powell
  • How's this for a statistic: four actors who appeared in Poltergeist films passed within six years of the first movie's release. Dominique Dunne, who played Dana in the first movie, was slain by her former boyfriend at age 22. Julian Beck, who played Henry Kane in Poltergeist II: The Other Side, passed in 1985 of stomach cancer at age 60. He had been diagnosed before he had accepted the role. Will Sampson, who played Taylor the medicine man in Poltergeist II, passed as a result of post-operative kidney failure in 1987, at age 53.

    Heather O'Rourke, who starred as Carol Anne Freeling in all three Poltergeist films, passed in 1988 at age 12 after being misdiagnosed with Crohn's Disease. During the course of being treated for a disease she didn't have, O'Rourke became ill and suffered cardiac arrest. Her family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Kaiser Permanente Hospital, which treated her for Crohn's rather than the actual condition - a bowel obstruction - that in part led to her passing. The case was settled out of court.

    • Actors: Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams, Beatrice Straight, Dominique Dunne, Oliver Robins
    • Released: 1982
    • Directed by: Tobe Hooper

    Available On:


  • Director Roman Polanski's deeply unsettling film about a pregnant woman who may be in the thrall of a Satanic cult carries with it a number of unsettling stories from behind the scenes. Most famously, one year after the movie's release, Polanski's wife, actress Sharon Tate, was struck down by the Manson Family. She was eight months pregnant with the couple's first child at the time.

    The film's producer, William Castle, suffered painful gallstones immediately following the film's production, eventually requiring a series of treatments and surgery. Composer Krzysztof Komeda passed from an unexpected fall. Castle later wrote in his memoirs that it felt like Rosemary's Baby was coming true in real life and that the cast and crew were being stalked by witches.

    • Actors: Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon, Sidney Blackmer, Maurice Evans
    • Released: 1968
    • Directed by: Roman Polanski

    Available On:


  • Actress Judy Garland became a cinematic legend playing Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz, but her personal life proved rocky after the film, in large part due to abuses heaped on her by the studio. She suffered four divorces, a string of infamous insecurities and neurosis, financial instability, and addiction struggles before passing from an overdose at age 47.

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

    Uncle Henry and Auntie Em met with bad luck following Oz. Charley Grapewin - who played Henry - passed in 1956, just before the film debuted on television, where it became a staple. Clara Blandick, who played Auntie Em, ended her own life when she was 81 years old.

    The production of Wizard was similarly troubled, as a number of notable misfortunes took place on set. Several actors playing flying monkeys accidentally broke the wires holding them up and crashed down to the set (they had a net to prevent grievous injury). 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 she took time off to recover, a stand-in tried to replicate the stunt in her stead, only to be burned in the same fashion.

    • Actors: Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley
    • Released: 1939
    • Directed by: Victor Fleming

    Available On:


  • Atuk

    Atuk is so cursed it never made it to the screen. The screenplay, based on the satirical novel The Incomparable Atuk, about an Eskimo who moves to New York City, has been kicking around Hollywood since 1971 when producer Norman Jewison bought the book rights.

    Most major actors attached to the project have passed. John Belushi passed a few months after agreeing to star in the film. Comedian Sam Kinison signed to play the lead in 1988 and even filmed a few scenes, but the production fell apart due to disagreements between the actor and pretty much everyone else. He passed not long thereafter in a car accident. 

    In 1994, John Candy was attached but passed from a heart attack. A few months later, Michael O'Donoghue, a friend of Candy's who, according to rumor, went over the script with the actor, passed unexpectedly of a cerebral hemorrhage. Chris Farley was attached when he passed of a heart attack and, according to unverified rumors, Phil Hartman was also interested in or attached to the script when his wife ended his life.