Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Strange Reason Steven Spielberg Carried This DVD In A Trash Bag

If anyone ought to have a reverence for film, it's Steven Spielberg, who made his career in movies, winning awards and making his mark on modern culture in the process. He's worked in realism (as evidenced by 1993's "Schindler's List," 2002's "Catch Me If You Can," and 2012's "Lincoln"). He's also never shied away from the sci-fi/horror genre. From his breakout blockbuster "Jaws" in 1975 to "Poltergeist" in 1982 and the "Jurassic Park" series starting in 1993, Spielberg has made a name for himself by bringing the horrific to life.

With all that in mind, a rumor going around about him doesn't seem to make much sense. People say that he took pains to carry one particular DVD around not in a plush briefcase or even a recyclable grocery bag, but in a trash bag — a bag meant to hold literal garbage. Is that any way for a famous film director to treat a creation born of his own industry? It's difficult to imagine why he'd do it.

That DVD was definitely haunted

The DVD in question contained a copy of the low-budget horror film "Paranormal Activity," made in 2006 by director Oren Peli. Shot in one week with a handheld video camera, it told a creepy tale of a young couple whose suburban home is overtaken by a demon. Two years after the movie was made, the DVD found its way to DreamWorks, and Spielberg took it to his own home in Pacific Palisades to watch.

There, according to those who worked with him, something strange happened. Soon after the screening, Spielberg found unable to access his own bedroom. For no apparent reason, the door was locked — from the inside. A doorknob malfunction? A human error? Perhaps, but Spielberg was spooked after watching a film where an evil paranormal force is the reason doors open, pictures fall off walls, and lights flash on and off by themselves. He apparently went with "demonic possession" as a reasonable explanation for his experience and became convinced the DVD was haunted.

Does Spielberg know something about ghosts that we don't?

Spielberg called a locksmith. Determined to get that DVD far away from his house, he packed it up in a garbage bag and brought it back to the office, continuing to work on it and even rewriting the ending.

When "Paranormal Activity" came out in 2009, it was a box office hit — possibly, in part, due to that story about Spielberg's experience. The chain of events begs the question: Was the tale concocted to boost interest in the film? Along with the legend, a debate has entered the ethos, too. Some people believe it was a marketing ploy and others take it at face value, but the truth will likely never be proven.

All the while, however, no one seems to be asking the more pressing questions about Spielberg's reaction. Why did he believe a trash bag would provide protection against a paranormal force in the DVD? And to take the whole thing just one step further — did it work?