Now Streaming: CURSED FILMS, The Stories Behind Horror's Cursed Cinema
Starting tomorrow on Shudder, Jay Cheel's five part docu series Cursed Films takes a look at some of horror's most infamous films. Films not lauded for their contribution to the genre but for strings of tragic, untimely events that led to the loss of lives tied to each production.
Starting tomorrow night with The Exorcist for the next three week his series also takes a look at Poltergeist, The Omen, The Crow and Twilight Zone the Movie. While some events happened away from the production the latter two were well known for accidents that happened on set.
We’ve all heard some of these before. Poltergeist and The Crow were the first two films where I knew something bad had happened. I wasn’t too much of a horror fan when Heather O’Rourke passed away in ‘88 but I was a Bruce and Brandon Lee fan so his death on the set of The Crow in ‘93 hit me particularly hard. I was too young for the original The Omen and The Exorcist. I hadn’t paid much mind to Twilight Zone the Movie and didn’t know about the tragedy on set until recently when the Landis name popped up in the news again, for other reasons, and folks were quick to remind us what happened back then.
I don't believe that the point of the series is to dispel these myths but to remind viewers that behind every ‘curse’ real lives have been lost, some of it tragically. This is a somber reminder that real lives and human beings are what have driven these cursed myths to this point. That being said it is not all doom and gloom, the time for mourning has passed and what the series sets out to do is address the fascination and mythos into these tragic films that surround these five films.
And it is indeed very fascinating. Cheel pulls from the memories and experiences of people who worked on the films - like directors Richard Donner and Gary Sherman - and combines those with the expertise of practitioners - writers, black magicians and witches - who can explain why we are so fascinated with the tragedies surrounding each film.
ScreenAnarchy was able to look at episodes two and three, Poltergeist and The Omen. As interesting as the episode about Poltergeist was, that third episode about The Omen is truly fascinating because of its exploration into and inclusion of the dark arts to give these tragic events an ominous backdrop.
Off the hop the production was warned that making a film about the incarnation of evil in a small child would bring about the wrath of Satan himself. So naturally anything that happened thereafter was met with dubious consideration. Which is where reaching out to practitioners of the Dark Arts comes into play. Would Satan really be all that offended if there was a film made about the physical manifestation of his evil in a small boy? Would he not consider that, oh we don’t know, free advertising?
There was a string of coincidental events that preceded and followed the production. Two planes were struck by lightning and another flight crashed at the end of a runway, which was not the weird part about that one. There was a car crash after with an eerie fate like that of a character in the film. These were things that would make you go hmmmm. If you didn’t know about these events before they are fascinating discoveries for the less devoted viewers.
This third episode is where consulted experts are brought in and they begin to explain to us the viewer why we believe what we believe, how we choose to believe something. Is the horror genre the only one to have cursed productions?
Practitioners of the dark arts wonder allowed if Satan would really be all that upset if a film like The Omen was made. Would he really curse a film about him? I’d be more interested to see what he could do to a faith based production. That’s a cursed production I’d like to discover more about.
At half an hour each these episodes are concise and packed with information that is both entertaining and fascinating. I am sure that there is much more information that Cheel could have divulged and we could have digested. That is probably my only gripe about this series is that it is going to be done before we realize it and we will want so much more. We are only left to wonder what other famous cinema and horror curses could he explore for a second season.
Cursed Films begins Thursday, April 2nd, on Shudder with episode one on The Exorcist. The two episodes from this review, Poltergeist and The Omen, air on April 9th. Episodes about The Crow and Twilight Zone the Movie air on April 16th.