We all know films are not real. While the stories they portray could be based in fact, the cinematic world they depict is carefully crafted for our entertainment. Toeing the line between the imagined and the real is what excites us, especially when it comes to horror stories. While we can comfort ourselves that what’s happening on our screens is not real, what goes on behind the scenes can be equally haunting – and dangerous.
Let’s look at some of the most haunted productions of all time – both on and off set.
One of the most famous haunted film productions is ‘Poltergeist.’ Originally released in 1982, it gained notoriety as the most cursed production of all time for the number of deaths associated with the picture. This included Dominique Dunne, who played Dana, the eldest Freeling daughter, who was strangled to death by her boyfriend mere weeks after the film’s release. This tragic list also includes Heather O’Rourke, who played Carol Anne Freeling, the little blonde girl who utters one of the most iconic lines in movie history: ‘They’re heeeeere!’ She died at 12 after suffering cardiac arrest due to surgical complications, and her ghost is said to haunt sound stage 19 at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles.
This film (originally made in 1973) carries such a troubled production story that it’s earned the reputation of ‘The Curse of the Exorcist.’ In total, nine people associated with the film died; there was also a mysterious fire on set that delayed filming by 6 weeks, the source of which was never determined; and Ellen Burstyn was so seriously injured on set that it left her with permanent spinal damage.
The ominous and catastrophic events surrounding the 1976 film ‘The Omen’ are unparalleled; it remains one of the most cursed productions to this day. The film is about the birth of the anti-christ, ‘the devil’s own son,’ and demonic forces have plagued its cast and crew. Star Gregory Peck’s own son committed suicide two months before filming began; animal handlers were attacked by Rottweiler dogs on set; and director Richard Donner’s hotel was bombed by the IRA. One of the spookiest (and most gruesome) stories involved Visual Effect Supervisor John Richardson and his assistant: both were involved in a car accident creepily similar to the photographer’s death in ‘The Omen.’ Richardson reported that the first thing he remembered seeing after regaining consciousness was a sign that read: ‘Ommen – 66.6 KM.’ The crash proved fatal for the assistant.
A word of advice for all those aspiring filmmakers out there who are fascinated enough to get involved in a spooky project: make sure you have proper insurance. Any accident or injury – supernatural or otherwise – sustained on your set could result in legal action made by clients, contractors as well as members of the public. Employee and public liability insurance can cover you for claims made by clients and contractors as well as a host of other benefits.
For example, a car insurance company recently analysed a number of famous movie car crashes from an insurance perspective and estimated how much they would actually cost. ‘The Blues Brothers’ comes in at number one with an estimated total of £5,000,000: not only do Elwood and Jake tear up an entire shopping mall, but they are also responsible for a number of personal injury claims, too.
As they say: ‘The show must go on…’
Photo: Flickr Creative Commons