Haunted Movie Sets Mar 18, 2015 23:13:46 GMT -5
Post by Graveyardbride on Mar 18, 2015 23:13:46 GMT -5
Haunted Movie Sets
For the most part, movie sets are not the magical theaters of dreams that behind-the-scenes documentaries and fawning features in magazines make them out to be. Usually, they’re either really boring, or really stressful, depending on one’s role. Teamsters, members of the crew and directors are working almost constantly for 18+-hour days and the actors spend more time mooching in their trailers than in front of cameras. The notable exception to this rule is horror movie sets. Strangely, they appear to be home to all manner of supernatural disturbances. You can chalk this up to either overzealous marketing people spicing up press releases by claiming their films are spooky both on and off camera, or you could be less of a party pooper. Perhaps the reason so many such films inspire stories of bizarre incidents during production – stuff going missing, lights flickering, a frankly worrying amount of things catching fire and people dying – is because, by toying with forces beyond our control, filmmakers are inviting the very spirits they hope to accurately document on screen. Whatever the reason, there’s been no shortage of films that were allegedly home to restless souls other than the actors. Following are some of them:
The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Scott Derrickson went on to direct the better-received/higher-grossing horror flicks Sinister and Deliver Us From Evil and will be at the helm of the upcoming Marvel superhero movie Doctor Strange (he was also responsible for that terrible remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still, but don’t hold that against him), but his breakthrough feature is actually fairly good and massively underrated. Half possession movie, half courtroom drama, The Exorcism of Emily Rose (above) is loosely based on the real-life case of Anneliese Michel, who suffered from epilepsy and died of neglect after her parents decided she needed to be exorcized instead of taking her to a doctor. In the film, it’s a little more vague whether she was just ill or something demonic was happening. The things that went on during shooting are similarly ill-defined: star Jennifer Carpenter claims she was visited by something in her hotel room. Her radio alarm also frequently switched on in the middle of the night and every time, it would play part of the same Pearl Jam song, specifically the lyrics “I’m still alive.”
The Possession. Despite the nondescript name, The Possession is anything but your average horror movie. Not quite as non-traditional as The Exorcism of Emily Rose, it still manages to come up with a fairly unique method of bringing evil into a home – a cursed Dybbuk box to which a young girl becomes attached, necessitating rabbi exorcists to come in and save the day – and it has an impressive cast. Jeffrey Dean Morgan leads as the girl’s father, who is less than enamored at the possibility that his little princess is the abode of an ancient evil. He was even less enamored off-screen, where Morgan (who has also starred in the TV series Supernatural) went from skeptic to a fully-fledged believer in the paranormal. Lights would explode for no reason, cold breezes would sweep through the set despite there being no doors open, and only during crucial scenes – i.e., the bits with ghosts. Worst of all was when the prop storage room caught fire and burned down, destroying the cursed Dybbuk box being used in the film.
The Conjuring. Yet another of those horrible movies by that sadist James Wan – who previously brought the world a plethora of nightmares with the likes of Saw, Dead Silence and Insidious, The Conjuring was a little different from his other works. It was still scary, but it was also based on an allegedly true story, following the investigation of real-life paranormal “experts” Ed and Lorraine Warren, who also investigated the Amityville haunting. The Conjuring dealt with a 1971 occurrence in a Rhode Island farmhouse, which the Warrens attempted to solve, with mixed results. As terrifying as the incidents on the screen were, apparently, there were just as many spine-chilling incidents on set as well. When the real-life Perron family, who owned the haunted house in the film, visited the set, they brought with them strange occurrences: inexplicable indoor wind, eerily still trees outside when a normal wind was blowing, and mother Carolyn – who didn’t want to visit – felt a “presence” at home before collapsing and being taken to the hospital.
Annabelle. Things got worse with The Conjuring when it came to the spin-off because Annabelle (above) was far worse and the set was allegedly even more haunted than that in the previous film. According to Annabelle director John R. Leonetti (who was also the cinematographer in The Conjuring), two major incidents happened on set during filming. Now before divulging them, it’s probably important to note this horror flick also was supposedly based on a real-life case by paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. The first was when they were “prepping” to shoot and Leonetti saw three lines drawn in the dust on the window above the living room – mirroring the three fingers of the demon in the film. Much worse was an incident witnessed by producer Peter Safran. While shooting a scene wherein the demon kills the janitor in the hallway, a lighting fixture fell onto the actor playing the role of the janitor.
Behind the Candelabra. And now for something completely different. Steven Soderbergh’s HBO movie chronicled the life of pianist Liberace, a particularly extravagant and eccentric star of his time who was always rumoured to be gay, but never officially “came out.” Nonetheless, the film depicts Michael Douglas as Liberace, clearly in a relationship with Matt Damon’s Scott Thorson, on whose memoir the film is based. The scariest thing that happens over the course of Behind the Candelabra was likely the interior design of Liberace’s home or Damon’s post-plastic surgery face. As you can imagine, it’s not a particularly spooky film because it’s not supposed to be, and yet, even this seemingly light and fun production was blighted by a dreadful specter that followed the filmmakers about ... sort of. Both Damon and Douglas have spoken in interviews about an eerie presence they felt during filming. The National Enquirer reported both actors said they felt a “cold damp air swish by, reeking of a potent men’s cologne,” and Douglas had a cold hand tap him on the shoulder, but when he turned, no one was there.
Ghost. Then there’s Ghost, which is technically about the supernatural, but about as far as one can get from the likes of The Conjuring and The Possession while still in a somewhat similar ballpark. Jerry Zucker’s classic schmaltzy romantic drama has Patrick Swayze kicking the bucket, but finding himself unable to properly pass into the afterlife until he’s tidied up some unfinished business, including making sure his girlfriend, Demi Moore, doesn’t get killed as well. Despite the fact the film is pretty light when it comes to most people’s “reality” of the paranormal – Whoopi Goldberg’s clairvoyant is a total fraud, tricking people out of their money before it turns out Swayze’s spirit can actually communicate with her – the filming did actually have its share of legit hauntings. This is primarily because it was shot on Paramount’s Stage 19, a notoriously haunted part of the studio which has been home to ghost stories since Orson Welles made Citizen Kane there. Nowadays the various terrifying tales about Stage 19 are attributed to the spirit of Heather O’Rourke, who died soon after filming Poltergeist on the notorious set. She also had a small role on Happy Days, which was filmed on the same stage.
The Amityville Horror. By this time, everybody knows the original “case” that inspired The Amityville Horror is a total fabrication. The original 70s film was based on the allegedly non-fiction book about the haunting of a Long Island house which turned out to be full of totally made-up sensationalistic stuff. The author was later discredited for including the more outlandish claims in his work. Nevertheless, some legitimately spooky stuff has followed the film adaptations of the book, with some of the most extreme happening during the 2005 remake starring Ryan Reynolds and Melissa George. A few weeks before shooting, a dead body washed up on shore near the set. When production started, Reynolds reported that several crew members had all started awakening at exactly 3.15 in the morning, mimicking what happened to his character in the movie. Those same cast members also sensed a presence in their rooms. Then there was another real-life tragedy connected to the production. Kathy Lutz – played by Melissa George in the film – died of emphysema while the movie was being filmed. George Lutz attempted to sue the filmmakers, claiming he hadn’t consented to the movie, but died of a heart attack before the case was resolved.
The Ghost of Goodnight Lane. Alin Bijan’s low-budget film is a lesser-known entry in the canon of haunted house movies, but it’s included here for a reason. The Ghost of Goodnight Lane (above) is based on the stories of an actual movie set which has born any number of spooky stories about mysterious incidents, which tend to be attributed to some malicious spirit that has made the particular film studio its home. Bijan not only chose to make a film based on those stories, but also thought it would be a good idea to shoot it on the haunted set itself. This, of course, means some of the ensuing stories about dodgy goings-on during production were PR stunts, but at the same time, they’re really quite scary. Five people had died at the studio before he turned up to make The Ghost of Goodnight Lane and the cast and crew experienced their own hauntings while there. Star Billy Zane was especially spooked, seeing flickering lights and ceiling fixtures collapsing and hearing “voices” call his name.
The Exorcist. William Friedkin really should have taken a hint. His adaptation of William Peter Blatty’s best-selling novel about a young girl who finds herself possessed by the Babylonian demon Pazuzu and the efforts of two Catholic priests to exorcize her, has become a classic of the horror genre, thanks to powerful performances, groundbreaking special effects, and the haunting use of Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells.” But it might remain equally as infamous for the “Exorcist Curse” that blighted the production, cast and crew during filming and beyond. While the film was in the making, there was a studio fire that destroyed the entire sets for the MacNeil’s house, which had to be rebuilt from scratch and set production back six weeks. Luckily no one was on the set at the time, but this indicates the origin of the fire has never been explained. Oh, and Reagan’s bedroom was fine. Friedkin did acquiesce to having a priest bless the set before filming started to quash the fears of those working on the film. But this didn’t save actor Jack MacGowran, who died a scant few weeks following the film’s release. The priest was called back multiple times during filming, but still the strange incidents continued. Linda Blair was injured during a scene in which she thrashes about on the bed and Ellen Burstyn was thrown across the room more violently than Blair could have managed. Apparently, the devil hates negative publicity.
Rosemary’s Baby. The malevolent forces at work in the 1968 supernatural thriller Rosemary’s Baby took an even more ominous tone when strange ailments beset the crew and true evil struck the family of producer Roman Polanski. A year after the release of the film about evil descending upon an expectant mother, members of the Charles Manson family murdered Polanski’s wife, Sharon Tate, and her unborn child. Then after receiving death threats over the movie’s Satanic theme, producer William Castle suffered kidney failure and was rushed to the hospital. Castle recalled one particular letter which read: “Bastard. Believer of Witchcraft. Worshiper at the Shrine of Satanism. My prediction is you will slowly rot during a long and painful illness which you have brought upon yourself.” During his hospitalization, Castle raged the movie was cursed, repeatedly crying out, “Rosemary, for God’s sake drop that knife.” Unbeknownst to Castle, the film’s composer, 38-year-old Krzysztof Komeda, had been admitted to the same hospital because of a blood clot. Komeda’s death was the result of a brain hematoma, eerily reminiscent of what befell Hutch in the film, but the cause of the hematoma remains unclear.
Sources: WhatCulture and CBS News.
See “The Curse of Rosemary’s Baby.”