There’s something fun about watching a horror film. If you’re like me, you’ll probably view it from behind the nearest cushion/friend’s shoulder, but nonetheless, fear-factor aside, it’s always an exhilarating experience.
Psychologically it’s "safe" too. After all, the events that you’re watching aren’t real. The monsters are computer generated, the hapless victims are actors, and the terrifying slasher-scenes are just the product of someone’s imagination.
However, what happens when reality becomes scarier than fiction? What if the movie generates more than box office interest, and inadvertently calls up some supernatural attention too?
According to reports, that’s exactly what happened on these movie sets. Brace yourself. It’s about to get creepy in here.
Nine Haunted Movie Sets
If you’re going to produce a movie about the Devil, you can expect some sinister events along the way. Well, if you believe the numerous people who worked on the movie, things got bad pretty early on.
Even before filming started, the movie seemed to be cursed. Gregory Peck (the lead actor in the film) was in a plane that was struck by lightning. Eight hours later, Mace Neufeld’s (the producer) plane was also hit by lightning in a storm. Even worse, Peck’s son tragically committed suicide just two months before he arrived on set.
This, sadly, was only the start of it. During filming, Neufeld’s hotel was bombed by the IRA. A private plane carrying several crew members crashed, killing everyone on board. The dogs used in the film suddenly turned and attacked their trainer, for no apparent reason. Liz Moore, who worked as a designer on the film, was decapitated in a car accident, and rather strangely, was travelling to Ommen (a town in the Netherlands) at the time. And Alf Joint, who was working as a stunt man in the film, injured himself badly when he fell from the top of a building. Afterwards, he claimed that he was "pushed by an unseen force."
Harvey Bernhard, also a producer, started wearing a Christian cross to the movie set, stating that "the Devil was at work and he didn’t want that film made." Spooky.
'The Exorcism of Emily Rose'
Demonic possession is a scary subject matter to cover in a movie. However, according to a few of the cast members of The Exorcism of Emily Rose, the sinister events weren’t confined to the film set.
Jennifer Carpenter, who played Emily Rose, claimed that her radio would switch on by itself when she was trying to sleep. One day it played "Alive" by Pearl Jam, but only the lyric "I’m still alive," before switching off again.
Laura Linney, another actor, also claimed that her television set was turning itself on at night. Let’s face it, when supernatural beings start messing with the electrics, we know something’s seriously wrong, don’t we?
This is a classic horror movie, mainly because it’s a clever slow-burner which plays masterfully on your doubt. However, despite being a box office hit, it caused serious problems for William Castle, the producer.
After it was released, he received vicious anonymous letters through the post. One accused him of being a "believer of witchcraft" and "worshipper at the shrine of Satan," before predicting that he would rot during a "slow and painful illness." Soon after, Castle fell seriously ill, which convinced him that the movie was indeed cursed. According to eyewitnesses, he was heard to shout some strange things at the time, including “The story of Rosemary’s Baby was happening in life. Witches, all of them, were casting their spell, and I was becoming one of the principal players.”
This film is based on a true story, which makes it even more frightening, in my humble opinion. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s another movie set that was plagued by supernatural goings-on.
One of the most interesting incidents was when the Perron family (the real-life family upon whom the movie is based) visited the set. When they turned up, a violent burst of wind circled them, though the nearby trees were completely still. A couple of days after, the hotel that the actors and crew were staying in mysteriously caught fire.
Vera Farmiga, an actor in the film, had a particularly harrowing experience. Opening her laptop one night, she discovered three claw marks across her screen. And, on the day she finished filming, she found three similar claw marks running across her thigh. Joey King, another actor in the film, also had similar mysterious marks on her body.
If ever a horror movie was plagued by eerie goings-on, it was this one. In fact, many people involved with its making claimed that Satan himself was trying to stop the film being made. The events that occurred during the filming are almost too numerous to list, and included fires, sinister deaths and illness.
Jack MacGowran, one of the actors in the movie, died shortly after the filming was finished. Ellen Burstyn and Lina Blair also injured themselves badly during the shooting. Things kept getting stranger after the film was released, with many viewers fainting or vomiting while watching it. Even more dramatically, during a screening in Rome, a neighbouring church was struck by lightning. The giant cross fell from the roof and landed in the plaza below.
Ah, who doesn’t love a haunted doll, eh (definitely not me)? Annabelle’s an eerie film, made more sinister by the paranormal events that happened during its making.
John R Leonetti, the director, claims that at least two frightening things occurred while they were filming. He informed The Hollywood Reporter that:
‘We went into the apartment where we were shooting, and in the transient window about the living room window. It was a full moon, and there were three fingers drawn through the dust along the window, and our demon has three fingers and three talons.’
He claims he has a photo of it.
The second event was far more serious. After their first shooting of the demon in make-up, they took it to the green room. The actor playing the janitor was following a super-sized light fixture in the scene when suddenly, it fell on his head. This especially freaked out the cast and crew, because in the original script, the janitor is killed in the same hallway where this occurred.
'The Ghost of Goodnight Lane'
This isn’t such a well-known movie, but the strangeness that surrounds its creation is worthy of mention. The film itself is inspired by a real-life haunted movie set in Texas. At this set, the crew experienced countless supernatural events; equipment moving by itself, and even physical force used against them.
The producer of The Ghost of Goodnight Lane thought the tale was too good to pass by and started work on the film. For added authenticity, he decided to shoot the movie at the haunted set. If they were hoping for the ghost to put in an appearance, they weren’t disappointed. Lights continually flickered during filming, fixtures fell from the ceiling, and the crew members heard their names being called out when no one else was in the room.
For this tale, we need to go back in time a bit. Ti West (the director) was originally working on a film called The House of the Devil, and during that time, he and the crew stayed in the Yankee Pedlar Inn. He claimed that they repeatedly witnessed supernatural events during their stay, such as doors shutting by themselves, televisions switching on and off, and light-bulbs burning out with frightening speed.
Sounds like good material for a horror film, right? Well, that’s what West thought too, which is why he returned to the hotel to film The Innkeepers. Sure enough, the sinister events kicked right back into action. Sara Paxton, who was acting in the movie, claimed that she woke several times in the night, convinced that someone was in the room with her.
'The Amityville Horror'
No list would be complete without this—one of the world’s most famous "cursed movies." Some said that the film was cursed even before they started shooting when the body of a deceased fisherman washed up at the shores of the set.
In the recent version, the actor Ryan Reynolds apparently woke up every morning at 3:15 AM, just like his movie character (the exact time that the DeFeo murders occurred). In the original version, actor James Brolin said that he was haunted by supernatural entities while he was filming too. In fact, he was initially inspired to take on the role of George Lutz after reading the script at 2 AM. His trousers mysteriously fell to the floor, making him jump so badly he nearly pushed his head through the ceiling. After that, he felt there was more to the story than he’d originally (skeptically) thought.