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Movie Sets That Were Completely Cursed

Sure, making a movie sounds all glitzy and glamorous, but really, when the cameras start rolling, things can get dangerous. Filmmaking is full of possible perils, and stuff goes wrong on every single set. But some movies seem a little more hazardous than others. Sometimes, accidents keep happening, and mistakes become deadly...and that's when things get creepy. Because some film sets are more than just dangerous. Some actually feel like they might be cursed.

The Shining (1980)

Stanley Kubrick was never known as an easygoing director, but he really turned up the intensity for The Shining. According to actor Scatman Crothers, Kubrick demanded 87 takes of Shelley Duvall, Jack Nicholson, and Danny Lloyd silently walking across the street. That's taking auteur theory to a whole new level.

Though Nicholson and Crothers enjoyed making the film, Shelley Duvall was a different story. Kubrick tortured the actress by keeping her isolated from the rest of the cast and crew and constantly berating her. The worst was forcing her to do the "give me the bat" scene 127 times. Try pretending like Jack Nicholson is going to kill you once. That's already exhausting. Doing it 127 times will lead to a breakdown...which it did. Duvall was so stressed out that she actually began losing clumps of hair. After The Shining, Duvall largely retired from acting, and some wonder if Kubrick's bullying put an early end to her Hollywood career.

However, Duvall's terrible treatment wasn't the only tragedy to befall The Shining. Later in the shoot, a massive fire broke out and destroyed two sound stages, one of which was the set for the infamous "bat scene." They never found out what started the 11-alarm fire that was so destructive. Was it faulty equipment, human error, or perhaps the work of a certain caretaker?

Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)

Even before Twilight Zone: The Movie hit theaters in 1983, it was already one of the most infamous movies ever made, largely thanks to director John Landis. You see, the film was split up into four parts, each helmed by separate directors. The brains behind classics like An American Werewolf in London and Animal House, Landis was in charge of a segment called "Time Out," which features a terrible bigot played by Vic Morrow. Our prejudiced protagonist is sent to different periods of history (e.g. Nazi-occupied France and the 1950s American South) where he magically morphs into the victims of discrimination, thus getting a taste of his own racist medicine.

Eventually Morrow's character winds up in Vietnam, where he tries to save two Vietnamese children while an enemy helicopter looms overhead. To get the scene, Landis broke child labor laws by shooting in the middle of the night and letting the kids get near a number of explosions and pyrotechnic effects. Even though Landis was warned about the dangers, he went ahead with the scene anyway, allowing the helicopter to fly too close to the explosions. Tragically, as Morrow carried the children across a river, the chopper was hit by a fiery blast, and it crashed into the river, landing on top of all three actors. One of the children was crushed and drowned, while Morrow and the other child were decapitated.

This horrible tragedy brought about a number of lawsuits and criminal charges against the director, but despite his blatant defiance of safety, Landis was acquitted of accidental manslaughter. The families of Morrow and the children sued the production, and each case was settled out of court. The only good news to come out of this horrible event is that film safety was greatly increased after The Twilight Zone.

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

You wouldn't expect a childhood classic to be the scene of a number of horrifying accidents, but The Wizard of Oz wasn't always magical on set. The film got off to a bad start when Buddy Ebsen, the original Tin Man, had to be replaced after the aluminum dust from his makeup coated his lungs, forcing him to sit in an oxygen tent for two weeks to recover. And though it wasn't as deadly, Bert Lahr, the Cowardly Lion, had to wear a 90-pound costume made of real lion skin in 100 degree heat.

Margaret Hamilton, the Wicked Witch, suffered worst of all. Her costume caught on wire after a stunt gone wrong, giving the actress second- and third-degree burns. Complicating things, her green makeup was copper-based, which could've made her injuries even worse, so it all had to be removed with alcohol before she could get proper treatment. Things got even ickier when Hamilton's stunt double suffered burns and scarring on her legs from a surprise explosion. Several flying monkeys were hurt when their flying wires snapped, and Toto was injured when an extra stepped on her paw. It's amazing anyone ever made it out of Oz. But what about that munchkin who hung himself? Well, fortunately, that's just an urban legend.

The Passion of the Christ (2004)

Looks like God did not approve of the casting of His Son. Jim Caviezel played Jesus in his last moments on Earth in The Passion of the Christ, and the actor ended up with a lung infection, pneumonia, and hypothermia. His makeup gave him skin infections, and he generally didn't enjoy having a super tight crown of thorns on his head while he carried around a 150-pound cross.

But the very worst was on the Sermon on the Mount. As they were about to film the scene, Caviezel was struck by lightning. "People started screaming," Caviezel explained, "and they said I had fire on both sides of my head and a light around me." Crazier still, assistant director Jan Michelini was also struck by lightning...twice! It seems like the Almighty isn't a big fan of Mel Gibson movies.

Poltergeist (1982)

Poltergeist, the 1982 horror flick directed by Tobe Hooper, is possibly the most haunted movie of all time. Some believe the Poltergeist curse began with the scene when the mother falls into a pool and is surrounded by skeletons. According to actress JoBeth Williams, those bones were actually real human remains (because they're evidently cheaper than fake ones), and after that creepy scene, weird stuff started happening to the people involved with the franchise. For example, Dominque Dunn (who played the oldest daughter, Dana) was strangled to death by her boyfriend at age 22.

Hoping to ward off evil for the sequel, actor Will Sampson performed an exorcism on the set of Poltergeist II, but apparently, it wasn't enough. Within a few years, actor Julian Beck died of stomach cancer at age 60, and Sampson himself died of kidney failure at 53. Perhaps most shocking, Heather O'Rourke ("They're here") died of cardiac arrest due to a misdiagnosed intestinal condition, just a few months before the release of Poltergeist III. Sadly, she was only 12.

Unfortunately, the curse wasn't done. Richard Lawson barely survived a plane crash that killed 27 people, and in 2009, Lou Perryman was viciously murdered by a car thief. Hopefully, the curse has fizzled out now, but still, watch your back, Craig T. Nelson!

The Conqueror (1956)

Here are two thing we don't do anymore: put a white actor in "yellowface," and film a movie on a nuclear test site. Sadly, The Conqueror did both. Starring John Wayne as Genghis Khan, the film was poorly received. Even in 1956, the New York Times reviewer found Wayne's makeup off-putting.

Of course, racism wasn't The Conqueror's only problem. The film was shot in 120 degree heat, which wasn't too comfortable. A panther was added to the background to make things more exciting, which it did by attacking the lead actress. Then a flash flood destroyed the sets, but sadly, all that water couldn't wash away the radioactivity.

The canyon where they filmed was within fallout range of Yucca Flats, a nuclear test site. Unfortunately, the Duke didn't seem to care that his Geiger counter was going crazy, and shooting went on anyway. Even worse, producer Howard Hughes decided to bring 60 tons of radioactive dirt back to Hollywood for re-shoots. In the years following the film's release, 91 people involved with The Conqueror developed cancer, and 46 passed away...including John Wayne himself.

The Crow (1994)

The Crow is known for the tragic death of its star, Brandon Lee. The son of the legendary Bruce Lee, Brandon was killed by a lead tip of a dummy bullet (which had been placed in the pistol weeks before) that was lodged in the prop gun. When the blank went off, it shot the tip into Lee's abdomen, and he died 12 hours later. The fact that Brandon died young and under strange circumstances just like his father started rumors of the film being cursed. Some also claim Lee's death made the final cut, but in reality, that footage has been locked away and seen by only a few.

Though nothing else of that magnitude happened, The Crow was an unhappy set before the accident. Working through weeks of night shoots with constant fake rain, the cast and crew were always freezing, and everyone got sick. A huge storm blew through the area, and icicles hung off all the rain machines. But after Lee's passing, the cast and crew worked hard to finish the film so everyone could appreciate the young actor's talent and dedication. And watching the film, you can't help but wonder if Lee could've become an action superstar someday.

Rosemary's Baby (1968)

While Rosemary's Baby is an incredibly creepy film, the behind-the-scenes stories are just as eerie. Producer William Castle had his first real critical success with the picture, but he also got up to 50 letters of hate mail a day for bringing this demonic film to life. Shortly afterward, he started suffering from painful kidney stones, which kept him in and out of the hospital until he died in 1977. Then the film's composer suddenly died at 38 from a brain hemorrhage.

Director Roman Polanski made it out alive, but he suffered a horrible loss a year after the film's release when his wife and unborn child were brutally murdered by the Manson family. While Mia Farrow escaped bodily harm, she was served divorce papers by her husband Frank Sinatra during the middle of shooting. Stranger still, the movie was filmed inside an apartment building called The Dakota, and just five years later, Dakota-resident John Lennon was shot to death right outside the building, completing the eerie Manson-Polanski-Beatles triangle.

The Exorcist (1973)

Still one of the scariest movies of all time, it's not surprising that weird things happened on set of The Exorcist. For example, actor Jack MacGowran plays a character who's thrown out of a window, and Ellen Burstyn's character finds out about his death via an assistant director of the film within the film. In real life, MacGowran suddenly died of the flu, and according to Burstyn, she heard about his passing from her real-life assistant director. Cue the creepy music.

Of course, this is just the tip of the demonically-possessed iceberg. MacGowran was one of several deaths connected to the film. Max von Sydow's brother died while the veteran actor was filming, and actress Vasiliki Maliaros died before the film was released. Also, a mysterious fire burned the sets down, causing a two-month delay in shooting. Stranger still, director William Friedkin discussed the film on The Barry Gray Show, and the next day, Barry Gray was allegedly hit by a car. With all that, it's no wonder the crew started to think the real devil was at work.

Apocalypse Now (1979)

Sure, Apocalypse Now is one of the greatest movies ever made, but shooting the film was an absolute nightmare.The weather was horrible, Martin Sheen had to replace Harvey Keitel after two weeks, and the cast and crew were constantly battling tropical diseases. On top of that, the set was just far too realistic. The place was strewn with dead rats and filth, and the set designer planned on using actual dead bodies as props. Fortunately, the producer wasn't having it and ordered the corpses hauled off-set.

Making things more complicated, Marlon Brando was obscenely overweight, didn't know the script, demanded to be shot only in shadow, and wanted to improvise everything. As for Martin Sheen, he had a heart attack, and director Francis Ford Coppola suffered a seizure...before having a nervous breakdown and allegedly threatening suicide three times. Luckily, the film was a huge success, cementing Coppola as an all-time legend. Although, we're pretty sure he'll never shoot a war film in the jungle again.

The Abyss (1989)

James Cameron has made many successful blockbusters, but The Abyss isn't one of them. Only earning $54 million domestically on a $70 million budget, the failure had to sting even worse since the shoot was filled with nearly fatal accidents.

The main set of The Abyss was filmed inside an abandoned nuclear reactor, but while there was no radioactive material on the site, the cast and crew spent hours filming underwater. Ed Harris had to film a scene where his helmet fills with water while being dragged 30 feet down into a tank. When he couldn't hold his breath any longer, a diver waiting nearby would give him a regulator. Not surprisingly, he nearly drowned on one of the takes.

Scarier still, Cameron got so wrapped up in filming that his oxygen tank ran out. The director tried to use the underwater PA to call for help, but the nearby cinematographer couldn't hear him. This gets even worse when you realize Cameron was in a 7.5 million-gallon tank, 35 feet below, trapped in heavy equipment. He managed to get free of the gear, and as he began swimming to the top, a diver tried to give him some air. Unfortunately, this backup regulator was broken. Naturally, Cameron tried to break free, but the diver thought he was panicking, so he continued forcing the regulator in the director's mouth. Only by punching the man that came to save him and frantically swimming toward the light did James Cameron live to see another day.

Fitzcarraldo (1982)

A story of a man who lugged a ship over a mountain was never going to be an easy shoot, especially with Werner Herzog at the helm. True to his eccentric form, the director insisted on moving a real steamboat over a real mountain in the very real Peruvian jungle. Right off the bat, things got tricky when a war broke out between Ecuador and Peru, forcing production to halt...and this was just the beginning of the madness.

About 40 percent of the way through, lead actor Jason came down with dysentery and had to leave the film. Later, local tribespeople raided the camp, and two people barely survived being shot with arrows. When a crew member was bitten by a snake, he cut off his own foot to stop the venom from spreading. Throw in deaths from jungle diseases and a raving Klaus Kinski as the replacement lead, and you've got yourself a truly troubled film. Herzog himself said, "There were days when I had the feeling that there was a curse on the whole project. The real achievement of the film is that I finished it—that I would not stop, that I would not be scared away."

And really, if there's one thing scarier than the Peruvian jungle, it's Werner Herzog himself.

Roar (1981)

Noel Marshall was the executive producer on The Exorcist, and it seems like the movie's demonic curse followed him for quite awhile. A few years after his infamous possession flick, Marshall and his then-wife, Tippi Hedren, came up with a wild idea for a film. Since Hedren was known for her fondness of animals and even kept lions as pets for her two children, the couple thought it would be a great idea to make a movie with a bunch of killer cats!

As you've probably guessed, this didn't go well. Well, the lions were all fine, but the humans took quite a beating. A staggering 70 people were injured while making the film, including Melanie Griffith (Hedren's daughter), who needed 100 stitches and facial reconstructive surgery thanks to a feline friend. Cinematographer Jan de Bont had most of his scalp removed by a lion, and Marshall was attacked so often that he ended up hospitalized for gangrene. Hedren got gangrene, too, something she only realized when visiting Marshall in the hospital. And after all that trouble, the film grossed only $2 million at the box office.

The Omen (1976)

Dealing with the devil is a dangerous game, and The Omen is possibly the most cursed film of all. Producer Harvey Bernhard felt the film might be risky and later said, "The devil was at work, and he didn't want that film made." Before the shoot began, Gregory Peck's son committed suicide. Shortly afterward, two planes carrying cast and crew were reportedly struck by lightning, and things got especially creepy when the trainer in charge of the baboons was killed by a tiger a day after the monkey attack sequence.

Despite all the weirdness, the film was released in the UK on 6/6/76 to critical acclaim. But a few months later, a special effects artist who worked on the decapitation scene was involved in a terrible car wreck, and while he survived, his passenger didn't. In fact, she was decapitated. And according to some stories (though others are understandably skeptical), the accident took place near the town of Ommen, right by a sign that read, "66.6 kilometers."

On top of all that, stuntman Alf Joint was injured while working on World War II film...after performing a jump on The Omen. Even the 2006 remake wasn't safe from Satan's handiwork. According to director John Moore, all the footage of a scene where Damien's true nature is revealed mysteriously disappeared. "Occasionally, you lose a shot," Moore later said. "Maybe a roll. We lost 13,500 feet of film." Of course, the remake got off much lighter than the original, but that does make some sense. It only received a fraction of the curse because it was only a fraction as good.