by S.M. Belekurov
We could invoke the Lee family curse here, but for the sake of time and consistency of our theme we will skip it. We start with this dark, gothic cult classic where a young Brandon Lee in face-paint was shot and killed in a freak accident. In a flashback to his character’s death in the film, Lee was shot with a real .44 magnum. While a fully operational firearm was used in this scene, it was outfitted with blanks. Extremely loud, with the desired effect but harmless. When the gun is fired it ejects cardboard wadding. Unfortunately one of the brass shell casings had a metal tip pull free and it became lodged in Lee’s abdomen. A career with much potential was extinguished. Besides Lee’s death, there were several other dismal experiences on the set. A carpenter was burned severely when a crane he was riding struck some high power-lines. Also a sculptor drove his car through the studio’s plaster workshop leaving excessive damage in its wake. A crew member slipped and drove a screwdriver completely through his hand. A lorry full of equipment mysteriously caught on fire with no apparent cause. Fortunately no one was injured in this incident. The “curse” spread beyond the movie as well. Veteran stuntman Marc Akerstream, who was the stunt coordinator of “The Crow: Stairway to Heaven” TV series was killed while preparing an explosive stunt that involved a rowboat near the shore. Everything seemed in good working order, but when the explosion came a piece of debris shot up into the air, cleared a tree and struck Akerstream in the head. He was air-lifted to a nearby hospital where he died.
This Steven Spielberg/Tobe Hooper horror hit was about a family plagued by spirits whose graves were disturbed to create a housing development. Several occurrences among the cast have raised some eyebrows and led to speculation of a curse. Here are the major ones: 22-year-old Dominique Dunn (who played Dana Freeling) died on Nov. 4, 1982, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in L.A. This was four days after her ex-boyfriend choked her into a coma from which she never awoke. A couple of weeks earlier, Dunne had ended her abusive relationship with L.A. chef John Sweeney. On Oct. 30, 1982, he visited their former shared residence to plead for another chance. As all punk-ass abusive bullies do, he crossed a line. He ended up strangling her for what was later determined to be between 4 and 6 minutes, leaving her for dead in the driveway. On Feb. 1, 1988, Heather O’Rourke (who played Carol Anne Freeling) died of septic shock at the Children’s Hospital in San Diego, CA. What was first thought to be a normal bout of influenza culminated in cardiac arrest during the drive to the hospital. Bacterial toxins caused by a bowel obstruction were unleashed and worked their way into her bloodstream. Her heart was successfully restarted, but during a subsequent operation to remove the obstruction she died on the operating table. Because of the speed in which she went from a normal, healthy little girl to a tragically lost child actor, this was bound to fuel further rumors of a curse. There were numerous minor problems and strange occurrences on the set that we will not get into now.
THE EXORCIST (1973)
This Academy Award winning film was an adaptation of story by William Blatty based on a true account. It is still regarded today as one of the “scariest films of all time.” Many strange rumors are associated with this flick, such as several mysterious fires, including one that happened when no one was even on the set. The events are not as well documented as some in other movies; however it IS known that a priest was called upon to pray and administer blessings during the scene where the character playing the priest takes a headlong dive down a flight of stairs. There was also strange behavior exhibited by audience members at the screenings, including vomiting and hysterics. This is probably more in the realm of group hysteria but worth noting here.
This film is about a powerful American Ambassador and his wife who adopt a child, only to discover that their new son is the vessel for the Antichrist. On the first day of filming a crew member was in a car wreck that demolished a company car. Later the film crew shot a scene using lions at Windsor Safari park that was eventually cut from the movie. The day they finished shooting this scene, a guard was mauled and killed by 2 of the lions. The most unlikely event (from a statistical point of view) occurred as follows: A flight from LA to London with the film’s star, Gregory Peck, aboard was struck by lightning and an engine was knocked out of commission. Eight hours later, a plane on a different course was carrying the screenwriter David Seltzer when it was also struck by lightning. In yet another aeronautical disaster, the crew had hired a private jet to use on some ground scenes. The charter company became overbooked, and the Omen’s crew flight was cancelled. The jet departed with businessmen aboard and crashed into a road, colliding with a car. This car crashed into another car and no one survived. In another grim nod to synchronicity, the second car was carrying the pilot’s wife and child. The curse continued to plague the sequel “Damien: Omen II.” William Holden’s best friend was stabbed while on vacation and the entire cast came down with an extremely rare form of influenza, even though no other outbreaks were reported.
On Jan. 22, 2008, actor Heath Ledger was found dead in his fourth-floor apartment at 421 Broome Street. Loren Coleman points out that the apartment sits between Crosby and (of course) Lafayette Streets in Soho, NY. He also notes that Jan. 22, or 1/22, adds up to 23, which we know also has occult significance. This was the date of the first full moon of 2008. He further enlightens us that Broome Street was named after John Broome, who fought in the revolutionary war. He became Lt. Governor of New York from 1804 to 1810. Another John Broome (1913-1999) was a writer for DC comics. He wrote several Batman comics that featured a darker joker. Homage to Broome and artist Gil Kane appear in the novel “the Darkest Knight.” These are just the peculiarities surrounding the circumstances of Ledger’s death. His portrayal of the Joker was masterful, earning him a much deserved Academy Award.
In preparation for undertaking the role of the “clown prince of crime” Ledger sequestered himself from the public. For a month he researched the character and honed his performance. His portrayal was a much darker, more macabre version of the Joker, in keeping with the theme of the new Batman movies. Ledger’s Joker was said to be based on the first appearances of the Joker and the graphic novel “The Killing Joke.” He claimed he modeled his character on Sid Vicious and Alex DeLarge, the primary character in the classic film “A Clockwork Orange.” So it should come as no surprise that Ledger developed insomnia and admitted in a New York Times interview that he “slept an average of two hours a night” while playing “a psychopathic, mass-murdering, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy.” Ledger continued saying that “I couldn’t stop thinking, my body was exhausted, and my mind was still going.” No one is positive, but all indicators suggest that it was an accidental overdose that caused his death. Ledger consumed a deadly cocktail of the prescription drug Ambien and other over-the-counter sleeping aids. Upon hearing about Ledger’s death, Jack Nicholson, who played the Joker in a 90s incarnation of “Batman” movies made a cryptic remark. He told reporters “I warned him.” Later Nicholson amended that he was talking about the Ambien, but one does wonder.