Horror movies have been popular for over a century now. There was a short, silent film involving supernatural elements back in the late 1890’s, after all, and horror movies clearly are not going anywhere.
In case you are curious, that film from the late 1890’s was called “Le Manoir du Diable”. It could be considered the world’s first horror movie.
New scary movies are being released constantly, but a lot of people seem to genuinely prefer the classics. What fans of those classics probably do not know is that the productions of those films were negatively impacted by strange, dangerous, and sometimes deadly occurrences. The stories of the productions might actually be scarier than the movies themselves.
Many of the films on this list are classics, but recent films have also seen their fair share of bad luck.
1. The Crow
The hit film, which came out in 1994, was based on the comics. The main character Eric Draven, who was portrayed by actor Brandon Lee, is murdered along with his wife. He ends up coming back to life so that he can get his revenge on his killers. The story is dark, but the film’s on-set tragedies are even darker.
When production was just beginning, a crane hit a power line, resulting in severe burns to a carpenter. Later on in the production, a horrible storm resulted in most of the cast getting ill. Machinery was covered in icicles.
Of course, the most tragic aspect of the film’s production was the death of star Brandon Lee, who was the son of Bruce Lee. The character was supposed to be shot by a thug with a .44 revolver, and there was an accident involving the prop gun used in the scene.
When the scene was being shot, Brandon Lee fell backwards, and minutes went by before anyone realized that he was actually shot. The shooting was ruled an accident. Using special effects and stand-ins, the film was completed. Lee only had a few scenes left to shoot.
He was 28 at the time of his death, and he was engaged to be married.
“The Crow” was released in May of 1994 and was a box office hit. It earned more than $50 million in the United States.
“Annabelle”, which came out in 2014 and was directed by John R. Leonetti, is a prequel to “The Conjuring”, which came out in 2013.
This movie takes place during the 1960’s and tells the story of an evil porcelain doll as it finds a home with a couple expecting their first child. Unfortunate things happen.
Just like with “The Conjuring”, there was a bizarre mishap on the set.
The actor portraying the demon was fully made-up for the first time, and a pretty serious injury occurred. The “demon” was walking down a hallway; when he was doing so, for whatever reason, a light fixture would fall. It ended up hitting the head of an actor. That actor was portraying a janitor in the movie.
Coincidentally, in the film, the demon actually ends up killing the janitor in that hallway.
Many believe the doll upon which Annabelle is based is actually possessed by evil spirits. It is kept in an occult museum inside a glass case, and it is regularly blessed by a priest.
3. The Omen
The year 1976 brought us “The Omen”, which was directed by Richard Donner. This movie is about the adoption of a little boy named Damien, who just happens to be the Antichrist. Those who suspect Damien or investigate his parentage tended to end up dead. It starred Gregory Peck, and the film was nominated for two Academy Awards. It was also the highest-grossing film of the year.
It may have been a great film, but there is a lot of tragedy associated with the movie. There were a lot of lightning-related incidents, for example. Screenwriter David Seltzer and star Gregory Peck were both on planes that were hit by lightning as they were on their way to begin production. Producer Harvey Bernhard was almost struck by lightning while in Rome, and Executive Producer Mace Neufeld’s plane also got struck by lightning.
Furthermore, Gregory Peck’s son committed suicide in 1975, just two months before filming of “The Omen” began. At one point, Peck almost took a plane headed for Israel—that plane ended up crashing, killing everyone.
Another distressing event related to “The Omen” is when special effects director John Richardson and Liz Moore, his assistant, got into a serious car accident when the film was in post-production. This crash took place in June of 1976, and Moore was beheaded, much like the decapitation in “The Omen”.
The animals used in the film were also dangerous to the cast and crew; the Rottweilers used in the movie managed to injure their trainers after they bit through their protective gear.
In 1982, the classic film “Poltergeist” was released. It was directed by Tobe Hooper and is known for showcasing children conversing with sentient beings via the family’s television. It is considered a classic horror film, but if you do not consider the film creepy enough on its own, there were a number of behind-the-scenes incidents that are sure to creep you out.
Dominique Dunne, the actress who played Dana Freeling, and Heather O’Rourke, the actress who played Carol Anne Freeling, both died at young ages. While only 22 years old, Dominique Dunne was killed by her ex-boyfriend. She was strangled. Years later, Heather O’Rourke passed away at the age of 12; she perished due to septic shock, which caused cardiac arrest. Doctors reportedly misdiagnosed the girl’s condition, which resulted in a treatable illness developing into a fatal one.
Oliver Robins, the actor who portrayed the character of Robbie Freeling, nearly lost his life because of the movie. The animatronic clown used for the movie began to strangle the actor, and he was saved because Steven Spielberg intervened.
To this day, it is not known why the clown did what it did.
It should be mentioned that the clown constantly tormented the character of Robbie Freeling throughout the course of the film.
5. The Exorcist
The Exorcist came out in 1973 and was a major commercial success. If you’re not familiar, a character named Regan MacNeil ends up possessed by a demon, so Fathers Damien Karras and Lankester Merrin perform an exorcism on the 12-year-old girl.
It is considered one of the best horror films of all time, but what happened behind the scenes could be considered more terrifying than what happened in in the movie.
Before the film even took off, shooting ended up being delayed because a fire scorched most of the set. The cause of the fire was nothing more than a pigeon caught in the electrical work; curiously, though, there was one room not devastated by the fire. It was the room that belonged to the character of Regan—the demon infested girl.
After filming finally started, Ellen Burstyn—who portrayed Chris MacNeil—was badly hurt on the set. In the scene where Regan throws Chris across the room while possessed, something went wrong, resulting in Burstyn injuring her spine permanently. The scream of pain heard in the film was a genuine one—there was no acting involved.
When the film premiered, there was a church dating back to the 16th century across the street. The church was hit by lightning as moviegoers entered the theater; as a result, the church’s cross fell to the ground.
Also, two of the film’s stars—Vasiliki Maliaros and Jack MacGowran—passed away while the film was going through post-production. In the movie, both Maliaros’ and MacGowran’s characters died.
6. Twilight Zone: The Movie
“Twilight Zone: The Movie” was released in 1983. There are four different segments to the film, and one involves the character Bill Connor, who is portrayed by Vic Morrow; it is based on the 1961 episode “A Quality of Mercy.”
That segment of the film follows Connor as he travels through time to some of the most prejudiced periods in history. Because of the experience, the character—a bigot—decides to change his ways; as a result, he saves two Vietnamese kids from American soldiers.
In real life, however, instead of lives being saved, lives ended up being lost.
Director John Landis hired two young children—they were only six and seven years old—under the table in order to get around California’s child labor laws. In the scene in which Connor and the kids utilize a helicopter to get to safety, several explosions occur. As a result of the aforementioned explosions, the helicopter ended up crashing. Both of the child actors as well as Morrow perished.
Before the shot was filmed, costar Dick Peabody remembers Morrow wondering, “How did I let them talk me into doing this scene?” He also commented that he should have asked for a body double.
7. The Exorcism of Emily Rose
“The Exorcism of Emily Rose”, which came out in 2005 and stars actress Jennifer Carpenter, tells the story of the tragic death of Emily Rose. Emily was a 19-year-old American teenager who died as a result of malnutrition and self-inflicted wounds after an exorcism was attempted.
An attorney named Ethan Thomas, who is portrayed by actor Campbell Scott, makes the argument that Emily was affected by schizophrenia, not demonic possession. He claims that the church’s unprofessional conduct is what caused her death.
The lawyer for the defense, who is played by Laura Linney, makes the argument that science cannot explain Emily’s condition. She defended the parish priest who performed the church-sanctioned exorcism.
Happily, there were no deaths or dangerous close calls on the set of film; however Jennifer Carpenter did claim that, every night, her radio would randomly turn on. It played the song “Alive”, by Pearl Jam.
Other cast members also reported the phenomenon—as well as televisions randomly turning on—which resulted in the set’s radios being removed.
8. The Possession
2012’s “The Possession” is a horror film that revolves around an allegedly haunted dybbuk box and the characters who encounter it. A dybbuk is considered a restless spirit that is often malicious. They are supposed to be able to haunt people and even possess the living.
While the film is about the consequences of purchasing the dybbuk box, filming in an allegedly haunted location resulted in skin-crawling experiences for the cast and crew.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan spoke of how, in the middle of scenes, lights would explode; there were also cold drafts that would pass through the set’s rooms, resulting in doors slamming shut.
The odd thing is that the shooting location wasn’t drafty. Furthermore, the reported mishaps only occurred during scenes—never during set up or between takes.
The spookiest incident occurred just a few days after filming wrapped. The props used in the movie were put into storage—just in case anything would need to be reshot.
The storage facility in Vancouver burned to the ground, which destroyed all of the props.
The dybbuk box used during production of the film was one of the props. Curiously enough, there wasn’t any sign of an electrical fire or arson. According to the film’s director, the fire department does not know the cause of the fire.
9. Rosemary’s Baby
The film “Rosemary’s Baby”, which came out in 1968, tells the story of a pregnant woman named Rosemary and her husband; the two move to an old apartment building in New York City. Rosemary soon starts to think that something is not quite right with her unborn child and comes to believe that an evil cult wants to take it for use in its rituals.
It was based on a 1967 novel—it was also called “Rosemary’s Baby”.
Actress Mia Farrow played Rosemary in the film.
William Castle, a producer of the film, received several death threats for producing the movie due to its satanic themes; one of the threats said that Castle believed in witchcraft. That threat accused him of worshipping Satan, and then threatened that Castle would die from a painful and long illness.
Not long after, Castle was hospitalized for a kidney-related disease. While in the hospital due to his illness, he was known to shout for “Rosemary” to put down a knife.
Roman Polanski was the director of “Rosemary’s Baby”. As you probably know, his wife and friends were tragically killed by the Manson Family.
Krzysztof Komeda, who composed the music for the film, fell down a steep slope in Los Angeles; that resulted in a coma. Komeda would die a few months later after being transported to his home country of Poland.
It has been said that Komeda woke up from his coma only one time. That time was when “Rosemary’s Lullaby”, a song he composed, was played.
10. The Conjuring
“The Conjuring”, which was directed by James Wan and came out in 2013, is based on a real-life investigation conducted in the 1970’s by paranormal hunters Ed and Lorraine Warren. The Warrens were asked to assist the Perron family with weird disturbances in their farmhouse in Rhode Island.
The movie received positive reviews and is actually one of the highest-grossing horror films ever. It was scary, but what happened behind the scenes is also sort of spooky. For example, when members of the Perron family visited the film’s set in North Carolina, a strong wind blew through—which wouldn’t be so troubling, except that none of the trees moved.
Also, Lili Taylor (who portrayed Carolyn Perron) had an unfortunate experience. While on set, she reportedly experienced a dark and foreboding presence—very much like the one Carolyn Perron actually experienced in the early 1970’s. This feeling followed her, and Taylor later tripped and fell, resulting in injuries that put her in the hospital.
It has also been reported that the phone calls between the Lorraine Warren and the screenwriters constantly suffered static and would frequently go dead.
Just reading about a few of these films might be enough to creep you out a bit, but people like to be scared. There are a lot of theories about why horror movies are so popular, but one thing is for certain: filmmakers are not going to stop making them.
You want proof that horror isn’t going anywhere? A movie revolving around an evil doll was mentioned in our list, but true horror fans know that there’s a far more iconic evil doll than the one in “Annabelle”—Chucky, from the “Child’s Play” series. The most recent “Chucky” movie was released last year, and the first one was released in 1988. Chucky has been terrorizing audiences—and also making them laugh—for two decades now.
There is talk of making another film, which makes sense considering the last film ended on something of a cliffhanger.
According to the voice of “Chucky” and other industry insiders, there is even talk of a television series based on the killer doll.